24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Strategy Session: Usage of Open Access Journals

September 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Strategy Sessions | Leave a comment

Usage of Open Access Journals: Findings from Top 11 Science and Medical Journals

Jayati Chaudhuri, Science Reference Librarian, University of Northern Colorado; Mariyam Thohira, Electronic Serials Librarian, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Reported by Barbara M. Pope

Chaudhuri and Thohira studied the use of open access journals based on citations from science and medical journals from 2004, 2006, and 2008 to determine whether usage is increasing.  They hypothesized that there would be an increase.

Chaudhuri began with an overview of open access and the different types of open access journals, including true open access and hybrid open access journals.  In addition, she mentioned that green open access journal articles are articles published in traditional journals, but are also placed in an open access repository.  Chaudhuri noted that there are many open access repositories and it is impossible to estimate the prevalence of green open access articles, because they are difficult to find.  She pointed out several open access mandates, such as the Harvard University Open Access Mandate, which was adopted by the Harvard faculty, and the NIH Open Access Mandate for NIH-funded research.

Thohira defined a use as a citation, and they based their findings on citations in 11 key medical and scientific journals from randomly chosen issues published in 2004, 2006, and 2008.  Thohira added that they had four questions:

  1. What subjects showed an increase in the use of open access and hybrid open access journals?
  2. How does open and hybrid open access use vary among the journals analyzed?
  3. What is the overall pattern of open access and hybrid open access journal use?
  4. How does the use of open access and hybrid open access journals compare with each other?

After collecting and analyzing their data, Thohira noted they found that biology has the highest use of open access and hybrid open access journals, followed by medicine and mathematics.  All three disciplines showed an increase between 2004 and 2008.  Usage of physics and chemistry journals had the least use and had no patterns.  Among specific journals, Science had the highest use, followed by PNAS, JAMA, and The New England Journal of Medicine.  Both Science and Nature showed a clear increase, while other titles increased some.

The speakers concluded that the use of open access journals has increased.  However, use was higher for hybrid open access journals than true open access journals.  While some disciplines had low use, Chaudhuri and Thohira noted that researchers in science and medicine are utilizing them.  When the speakers were asked what this means for libraries, Ms. Chaudhuri responded that she had not realized the amount her library was spending on journals which are available as hybrid open access journals with short embargoes.  As a result of the data, she noted she was able to make strategic collection development decisions for her library.


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