Updated list of highly cited open-access journals

Yesterday the National Contact Point Open Access OA2020-DE (Germany) published an updated list of of frequently cited open-access journals.

The list comprises 800 Open Access journals; it is based on data from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) that is enriched with SNIP-Scores (Source Normalized Impact per Paper). SNIP relies on citation information from Scopus and measures contextual citation impact: It weights citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field and therefore balances differences in citation practices between scientific fields.


Germany: Implementation of a competence and networking platform in the field of Open Access

On the 20th of May, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) announced a funding programme for implementation of a competence and networking platform in the field of Open Access.

Here is some information from the call for proposals…


“With the funding initiative for the competence and networking platform in the area of Open Access, the BMBF is aiming to

  • bundle provision and communication of information on Open Access;
  • offer training opportunities for audiences from different locations and disciplines;
  • improve networking and cooperation between the actors involved from the scientific community.”


“Public and private universities as well as non-university research institutions, scientific institutions and comparable institutions are eligible to apply. (…)

Research institutions that receive basic funding from the Federal Government and/or the federal states can only be granted project funding for their additional project-related expenses or costs under certain conditions in addition to their institutional funding.

The funding of economic activities is excluded.”

Duration and amount of funding:

“A joint project is to be funded over a project duration of up to 36 months by means of full financing. A total of up to 800,000 euros p.a. is available for this purpose (distributed over all sub-projects). (…) The planned start of funding is 1 January 2020.”

Norway and Elsevier meet a eighteen million Euro agreement including a Gold Open Access clause


The Norwegian consortium for higher education and research and the publishing house Elsevier agreed two days ago to a national license. This provides Norwegian researchers not only access to articles published in Elsevier’s journals (including the society journals as The Lancet or CELL Press) but also the opportunity to publish their results Open Access. Seven universities and 39 research institutions will benefit from the two-year agreement.

A comment in the Financial Times gives a little more insight in the contract. It mentions, among other things, the sum that will be paid to Elsevier under the agreement and puts it at nine million euros. This means an increase of three percent over the previous agreement, which did not cover Open Access publishing. The article goes on to explain that Elsevier expects about 2,000 publications per year. If one assumes that the calculation is based on publish and read fees, as it is proposed by advocates of the Open Access transformation through national consortia with major publishers, the fee per article would be €2,250 is €4,500.

[begin update]
Many thanks to MarthaR for pointing me to a Nature article that indicated that the sum of €9m per year is charged, in other articles this did not indicated. However, an article in The Scientist explicitly states that the total volume is €18m so that the fee per article is €4,500. This was also confirmed by a mail from the Norwegian consortium.
[end update]

In similar agreements, e.g. in Finland, an Open Access publication was by far not allowed in all Elsevier journals. But according to Openaccess.no the contract covers up to 90 percent of the articles published by scientists from members of the consortium. Only the society journals (about 400 in total) will be excluded.

Inside Higher Education cites Nina Aslaug Karlstrøm, a representative of the consortium, with an interesting detail: “[If] the number of articles exceeds the allocated amount, a list-price article processing charge must be paid if it is to be published open access”. Therefore the nine million euros are Elsevier’s minimum revenue from this contract.

Just as with the Wiley DEAL in Germany, this agreement also strengthens the allegedly unpopular Hybrid Open Access, which was even disallowed by Plan S. The agreement with Elsevier in France is different and should strengthen Green Open Access.

Better than the German Wiley DEAL? The Couperin Consortium reaches a price reduction of more than 13% over four years in an agreement with Elsevier

ElsevierFor some, this may seem better than the Wiley Deal in Germany: French universities and research institutions have agreed in principle, through their Couperin consortium, to renew their national licence with Elsevier. In a letter sent on April 11 to Elsevier by Lise Dumasy, president of Couperin, details of the agreement, which is valid for 4 years, effective as of January 1 this year, are revealed.

With this agreement, French universities and research institutions will have access to the publisher’s “Freedom complete edition” journal bundle including e.g. The Lancet and Cell Press. However, the consortium does not guarantee to the publisher that all its members will adhere to the national licence.

Here are the main points:

  • Most surprising: This agreement provides for a gradual 13.3% reduction in license costs over 4 years -5% in 2019, -4% in 2020, -3% in 2021 and -2% in 2022, in total -13.305% over four years.
  • There is 25% discount on article processing charges (APC). There will also be a compensatory clause if these APCs increase by more than 3.5%. Excluded from this discount are – as I understand it – only the society journals, e.g. The Lancet and the Cell Press titles. Included are all Open Access journals and hybrid journals. The 3.5% threshold refers to annual price increases.
  • Regarding Green Open Access the agreement allows automatic access 12 months after formal publication to the “accepted author manuscript” (AAM) or post print directly on Elsevier’s service Sciencedirect. After 24 months the pdf file of this manuscript will be deposited on the HAL platform (the CNRS Open Access Repository). The license to make AAMs available is more restrictive than most Creative Commons licenses. It allows reading, downloading, printing, translating, text & data mining but does not allow redistribution or re-use (neither commercial or non-commercial).

Finally, the agreement includes the progressive deposit (from 2020 to 2022) of articles published between 2002 and 2012, which will make it possible to apply text & data mining.

Here you can read the letter sent by the president of the Couperin consortium to Elsevier. I would also like to draw your attention to Martin Clavey’s posting that I have mainly reported here. Information about the Wiley DEAL mentioned at the introduction can be found in Marcel Knöchelmann’s posting on Le Publikateur.

What is Open Access about? Debates at the heart of the Open Access movement

Yesterday, the National Contact Point Open Access (Germany) sent a mail to several mailing lists in which it pointed to a list of highly cited Open Access journals. According to the mail, this list could be helpful in motivating scientists to publish in Open Access journals [translated by the author of this posting]: “From now on, an overview is available under the resources category with approx. 700 highly cited Open Access journals from all scientific disciplines. The aim of this overview is to make established and relevant Open Access journals visible to researchers and to increase their findability. In this way we are helping researchers to identify suitable and influential Open Access journals from their discipline to submit their manuscripts.” The list relies on the journal metric Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) (based on Elsevier’s database Scopus), which differs from the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) mainly by considering average citation rates of the discipline when calculating the impact (or SNIP score) of a specific journal.

In an answer Katja Mruck, editor of the Open Access journal Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung FQS (not in the list mentioned above), commented critically on this list. For example, she pointed out that in order to be indexed in relevant citation databases (like Scopus or the Web of Science, the latter is used to calculate the JIF), FQS would have to adapt its characteristics to the specifications of the databases, e.g. by

  • publishing less articles and issues per year
  • covering a smaller thematic spectrum
  • ask FQS-related authors to place their publications strategically, namely in journals that are already indexed in these databases, and to cite FQS-articles.

Screenshot, taken from https://oa2020-de.org/en/pages/frequentlycitedoajournals/ [2018-10-30]
None of this has been done because the journal obviously has attractive characteristics, which unfortunately are not represented in a citation count. Katja Mruck answers the questions about the quality and visibility (the characteristics with which the journals mentioned in the list were associated, see the screenshot above) of FQS [translated by the author of this posting]: “Quality? FQS articles are reviewed double-blind and, in the case of a publication recommendation, are only published after they have been editorially proofread in the mother tongue. Visibility? We have over 20,000 registered readers worldwide, plus those who use FQS but are not registered. Relevance? A look at the contents and authors could answer this question.”

She concludes with a pessimistic statement: “So from the heart of the OA movement we are now challenged to do things we would rather not do in order to remain in the heart of the OA movement.”

Unfortunately, I agree with her. Arguments used to promote Open Access are sometimes (or even often) ambivalent. For example, the impact argument, according to which Open Access boosts impact and which, reciprocally, is intended to strengthen support for Open Access. On the one hand, everyone complains about impact measures; on the other hand, scientists are lured with them. Yes, I know that SNIP has advantages over the JIF, but it (just like any other metric, especially the Altmetrics which are not better than citation measures) cannot extrapolate quality from quantity – especially since the quantity found is the result of multiple selections. I have the same problem with the argument that Open Access fosters economy – if we follow this argument, then it is not a big step to assess a publication’s quality by its economic value – and then journals like FQS are worse off than STM journals and may easily be considered worthless. But quality has nothing to do with SNIP, JIF or return of investment. The argument that Open Access really has advantages immanent to science (acceleration of science, transparency, dissemination and participation, science as a public good) is, at least in my opinion, becoming more and more marginalized.

There may also be reasons for this, because large-scale attempts to promote Open Access often come from institutions, e.g. the European Union (I recommend in this context this publication by Jutta Haider), that are concerned with impact and economic exploitability, not least to document the economically efficient use of public funds. And I have to admit this, too: These institutions may really have the power to promote Open Access (albeit possibly under conditions that I don’t like in the end), but unfortunately their commitment to Open Access couldn’t be stimulated with the above-mentioned scientific-immanent arguments, but only in the impact-economy-framework.

What remains? Perhaps that good Open Access journals, which have no measurable citation impact (as questionable as it may be) and no economic exploitability, have wrongly little significance in the alleged qualitative evaluation outside their community – and which for this reason are not recommended to scientists as a venue for publication. In case of doubt, does an Open Access Journal therefore have to decide against a format acknowledged in its community and adapt it to the market mechanisms of scientific publishing and the economic area if it wants to be assigned characteristics such as “quality, visibility, and relevance“?

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Open Access Sources in Wikipedia

Taken from: https://wikimediafoundation.org/2018/08/20/how-many-wikipedia-references-are-available-to-read/, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Creators: Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz.

In a study published two days ago, Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz examined the proportion of scientific references in Wikipedia articles that were published in Open Access. For the survey, the authors checked data for works referenced in Wikipedia against data from unpaywall.org. According to Redi, Taraborell & Orlowitz “less than half of the official versions of scholarly publications cited with an identifier in Wikipedia are freely available on the web:  29% are free-to-read at the source, while an additional 10% have a free-to-read version available elsewhere.” The authors also report major differences in the availability per subject: About “55% of publications in space-related articles are open. On the contrary, if you are interested in chemistry, you will very likely have to pay to read the publications cited in your favorite Wikipedia articles or rely on an institutional subscription: 83% of publications in chemistry articles across languages are paywalled.”

However, the authors do not address an interesting question: How could the proportion of references in Wikipedia that are accessible free of charge be increased if more green Open Access versions were linked?

A more intensive linking of these works would require that Wikipedia authors and editors

  • have no difficulties in finding Green Open Access versions
  • do not distrust Green Open Access versions (e.g. because they consider these unciteable or are not sure whether these fully match the publisher’s version)


Further information:

Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz: How many Wikipedia references are available to read? We measured the proportion of open access sources across languages and topics. https://wikimediafoundation.org/2018/08/20/how-many-wikipedia-references-are-available-to-read/



Open Access and Symbolic Gift Giving

Open Divide: Critical Studies on Open AccessThe anthology “Open Divide? Critical Studies on Open Access” will be officially published on April 1, but can already be ordered now, e.g. via Amazon.

Therefore I published my contribution to Open Divide online today: Open Access and Symbolic Gift Giving.

The abstract to my piece is:  “Open access has changed. At the beginning of the millennium, it was portrayed in a romanticizing way and was embedded in a conceptual ensemble of participation, democratization, digital commons and equality. Nowadays, open access seems to be exclusive: to the extent that commercial players have discovered it as a business model and article fees have become a defining feature of gold open access, open access has increasingly transformed into a distinguishing feature and an exclusive element. Scientists are beginning to make the choice of a university or research institution as an employer based on whether or not they can afford to cover the article fees for publications in high-impact but high-priced journals. Surprisingly, this transformation of open access is not the subject of any noteworthy discussion in specialist or journalistic publications, but instead the ideals of the digital commons of knowledge still prevail in these venues. Even so open access is increasingly becoming an instrument that creates exclusivity, exclusion, distinction and prestige. These functions, however, are obscured by symbolic gift giving strategies and presented as altruistically staged, so that in the discourse of the open access community and in media reporting on open access, the both euphemistic and largely obsolete prosocial story-telling of open access dominates. The paper also discusses the question of whether the concept of open access was not overstrained by the hopes placed in it.”

The list of all articles in the anthology with links to texts available as Open Access publications can be found here.

Here is the bibliographic information on Open Divide:
Open Divide? Critical Studies on Open Access
Editors: Joachim Schöpfel and Ulrich Herb
Price: $35.00
Expected: April 2018
Publisher: Litwin Books
ISBN: 978-1-63400-029-1

Stagnating Open Science compliance for doctoral theses?

When citing or referring please provide this DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.6714038

Recently, I gathered data from the Bielefeld Search Engine BASE on the percentage of journal articles, books and doctoral theses published Open Access, licensed under Creative Commons Licenses and under Open License between 2013 to 2017.

Since dissertations have been published electronically and Open Access for a long time, they have traditionally been a document type that was more Open Science compliant than others. For example, the Open Access repository software OPUS, which is widely used in Germany, was in earlier years used exclusively for the electronic publication of doctoral theses. Unfortunately, this pioneering role could not be held: A look at the data provided by BASE shows that the Open Science penetration among theses published stagnates.  BASE knows three categories of accessibility: Open Access, Unknown, Non Open Access. In the following tables and graphs, figures reported as “Open Access” have been categorised by BASE as Open Access. The following tables show data from BASE as follows:

  1. Indexed theses, books and journal articles (2013-2017)
  2. Indexed theses, books and journal articles published Open Access (2013-2017)
  3. indexed theses, books and journal articles under Creative Commons licenses (2013-2017)
  4. indexed theses, books and journal articles, which are published under Open Licenses in the sense of the Open License, i. e. reflect terms of use of the Open Source (2013-2017)

Open Licenses means licenses that fulfill the requirements of the Open Definition. This applies only to two Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY and CC-BY-SA.

Doctoral Theses total101,264108,253111,555108,69777,731
Doctoral Theses
published Open Access
Doctoral Theses
under Creative Commons Licenses
Doctoral Theses
under Open Licenses
Books total68,25764,98267,13061,23646,187
published Open Access
under Creative Commons Licenses
under Open Licenses
Journal Articles total1,768,7911,957,0582,131,6042,005,2681,696,182
Journal Articles
published Open Access
Journal Articles
under Creative Commons Licenses
Journal Articles
under Open Licenses


Doctoral Theses
percentage: Open Access
Doctoral Theses
percentage: CC-licensed
Doctoral Theses
percentage: Openly licensed
percentage: Open Access
percentage: CC-licensed
percentage: Openly licensed
Journal Articles
percentage: Open Access
Journal Articles
percentage: CC-licensed
Journal Articles
percentage: Openly licensed

Although doctoral theses already had a high share of Open Access by 2013 (43%), by 2017 it had risen by only 5% (2017: 48%). At the same time, the proportion of books published Open Access rose by 14% (from 20% to 34%) and articles by 17% from 44% (2013) to 61% (2017). The same effect can be seen in the proportion of CC-licensed items: Their share rose by 4% (from 9% to 13%) for doctoral theses, by 9% for books (from 4% to 13%) and 8% for articles (from 10% to 18%) between 2013 and 2017. However, the share of openly licensed items is most pronounced: it did not increase for doctoral theses, but remained at 2% between 2013 and 2017; in the same period it increased by 5% (from 1% to 6%) for books, and by 5% (from 5% to 10%) for articles. Even though this figure is illustrative, they show that although dissertations were published in earlier years more compatible with Open Science than books and articles, their penetration with Open Science stagnated and today they are compared with books and articles less compatible with Open Science.

The proportion of books available under CC licenses rose sharply compared to the number of doctoral theses licensed under CC licenses and reached the same percentage in 2017.

As the proportion of doctoral theses available under Open licenses stagnated the percentage of openly licensed books outnumbered theses already in 2016.

The data to this posting is available as:

Ulrich Herb (2018). Numbers of Articles, Books and Dissertation theses indexed in BASE and percentages of items published Open Access, under Creative Commons Licenses and under Open Licenses (2013-2017) [Data set]. Zenodo.
Online: DOI:10.5281/zenodo.1189807

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Viele Daten, hohe Hürden: Eine Bilanz aus dem Projekt Open-Access-Statistik

Im Bibliotheksdienst ist heute ein Artikel zu einem bereits  seit längerem beendeten Projekt erschienen: Open Access Statistik. Er geht zurück auf einen Beitrag zum Workshop “Fachportale, Fachinformationsdienste, Wissenschaftsnetzwerke” am Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung (ITAS) in Karlsruhe. Besonders bemühte ich mich um

  • eine Einordnung der – verglichen mit internationalen Diensten, wie ResearchGate, Academia oder Mendeley – strengen rechtlichen Vorgaben
  • die Beschreibung der methodischen Vorzüge des Projekts, das diesbezüglich die Altmetrics weit übertrifft.

Die bibliographischen Daten zum Artikel lauten:

Ulrich Herb. (2018). Viele Daten, hohe Hürden: Eine Bilanz aus dem Projekt Open-Access-Statistik. Bibliotheksdienst, 52(3-4), S. 290–302. DOI:10.1515/bd-2018-0034

Die Veranstalter machten die Hybrid-Open-Access-Publikation möglich – ohne Zahlung einer Autorengebühr. Parallel publizierte ich den Artikel auf Zenodo unter https://zenodo.org/record/1195627.

P.S. Ich musste gerade feststellen, dass bei meinem oben verlinkten Altmetrics-kritischen Artikel einiges im Argen liegt: Unter anderem löst die DOI nicht auf, von Design und Usability zu schweigen. Daher änderte ich den Link von der Plattform des Verlags zum rasch eingespielten Zenodo-Deposit. Wer den Mumm hat, kann sich die Verlagsversion mal ansehen. Leider frage ich mich, wie man Wissenschaftler vom nicht-kommerziellen Gold Open Access überzeugen will, wenn die Plattformen teils derart unattraktiv sind.

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“Data from: Open access levels: a quantitative exploration using Web of Science and oaDOI data” published

Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman shared accompanying data to their article “Open access levels: a quantitative exploration using Web of Science and oaDOI data” on Zenodo:

Kramer, Bianca, & Bosman, Jeroen. (2018). Data from: Open access levels: a quantitative exploration using Web of Science and oaDOI data [Data set]. Zenodo. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.1143707

The data is provided under a Creative Commons Zero – CC0 1.0 License.

The article itself is available as:

Bosman J, Kramer B. (2018) Open access levels: a quantitative exploration using Web of Science and oaDOI data. PeerJ Preprints 6:e3520v1 DOI:10.7287/peerj.preprints.3520v1

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