Half Of 2011 Papers Now Free To Read

Richard Van Noorden | Nature | August 20, 2013

Boost for advocates of open-access research articles.

Search the Internet for any research article published in 2011, and you have a 50–50 chance of downloading it for free. This claim — made in a report1 produced for the European Commission — suggests that many more research papers are openly available online than was previously thought. The finding, released on 21 August, is heartening news for advocates of open access. But some experts are raising their eyebrows at the high numbers.

There has been a steady move over the past few years towards getting research papers that are funded by government money into the public domain, and the best estimates2, 3 for the proportion of papers free online run at around 30%. But these are underestimates, argues Éric Archambault, the founder and president of Science-Metrix, a consultancy in Montreal, Canada, that conducted the analysis for the European Commission.