When will everything be Open Access?

We recently published an article in PeerJ using Unpaywall data to assess the growth and scope of OA. We’re proud of it. By using data from Unpaywall–now the largest open database of OA articles ever–and teaming with a world-class group of coauthors, we had both the data and the expertise to finish with (hopefully) a real useful product.

We won’t summarize the whole paper here (the abstract on PeerJ does a decent job of that), but we did think it would be fun to share one figure that didn’t make it into the paper:


In the study, we found that OA is increasingly likely for newer articles since around 1990. That’s the solid line part of the graph, and is based on hard data.

But since the curve is so regular, it was tempting to extend it so see what would happen at the current rate of increase. That’s the dotted line in the figure above. Of course it’s a pretty facile projection, in that no effort has been made to model the underlying processes. #limitations #futurework 😀. Moreover, the 2040 number is clearly too conservative since it doesn’t account for discontinuities–like the surge in OA we’ll see in 2020 when new European mandates take effect.

But while the dates can’t be known for certain, what the data makes very clear is that we are headed for an era of universal OA. It’s not a question of if, but when. And that’s great news.


Bringing article fulltext to your Impactstory profile

Your work’s impact helps define your identity as a scientist; that’s why we’re so excited about being the world’s most complete impact profile. But of course the content of your work is a key part of your identity, too.

This week, we’re launching a feature that’ll bring that content to your Impactstory profile: if there’s a free fulltext version of one of your articles, we’ll find it and automatically link to it from your profile.

We’ll be automatically checking tons of places to find where an article’s freely available:

  • Is the article in PMC?
  • Is it published in a journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals?
  • Is it published in a journal considered “open access” by Mendeley?
  • Does PubMed LinkOut to a free and full-text resource version?
  • If it’s in none of these, is it in our custom-built list of other open sources (including arXiv, figshare, and others)?

Of course, even with all these checks, we’re going to miss some sources–especially self-archiving in institutional repositories. So we’ll be improving our list over time, and you’ll be able to easily add your own linkouts when we miss them.

We’re excited to pull all this together; it’s another big step toward making your Impactstory profile a great place to share your scholarly identity online. Look for the release in a few days!