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.