Open-access Research Makes a Bigger Splash

Sophie Hebden | SciDev.Net | May 17, 2006

Scientific papers published in online journals that are open-access have a bigger impact and are cited more frequently than papers readers must pay for, according to a new study. The findings will strengthen calls for more online scientific journals to switch to the open-access model and make research freely available.

Journal subscriptions are too expensive for many scientists in developing countries, making open-access their sole means of keeping up to date with research in the rest of the world. The author of the study, published this week (15 May) in PloS Biology, concludes that, "open-access is likely to benefit science by accelerating dissemination and uptake of research findings".

Gunther Eysenbach, a health policy specialist at the University of Toronto, Canada, monitored the number of times each of 1,500 papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were cited in later studies. The journal has a 'hybrid' publishing model, meaning that authors can choose to pay a US$1,000 fee to publish their papers for immediate free access on the journal's website. All other papers become open-access six months after publication.