According to a Study of the European Commission 50% of the scientific publications published in 2011 are free available over the Internet according to the open access principle. The EC sees with this result the begin of the breakthrough of a world wide trend to make scientific results available with no costs. The share is more than twice as high as expected.
The company which made the research on behalf of the EC, Science-Metrix, utilized a special search program and analyzed more than 320,000 articles from central archives such as arXiv , PubMed Central, and ResearchGate. These articles were downloaded and checked for their copyright notice. Worldwide 40% of these papers were available without any restrictions. The CEO of Science-Metric, Archambault, estimates the rate even higher due to the fact that not all open access publications could be found. Within the study 22 scientific subjects mainly from the EC but also from countries worldwide such as Brazil, Japan, Canada, and USA have been considered. The highest percentage of free available publications have been found in Brazil (60%), the lowest rate was found in Japan (40%).
Most free available articles are with the scientific disciplines of general science and technology, research in biomedicine and mathematics and statistics. The highest restrictions on access are with the disciplines of social- and human science, in applied research and within engineering.
In two additional reports Science-Metrix investigated the promotion of open access articles and free access to unpublished research raw data. According to the results for 48 of the biggest science institutions both ways of open access are acceptable. In the so called “golden way” scientists publish their articles not using the infrastructure of well established publishers, often resulting in paying high fees. In the so called “green way” scientists first use the infrastructure of well established publishers, and after some time the articles are put online by the scientists themselves.
For Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, science commissioner of the EC, the results are very promising and show that open access will have sustainability.