Reconsidering the gold open access citation advantage postulate in a multidisciplinary context: an analysis of the subject categories in the Web of Science database 2009-2014

Authors : Pablo Dorta-González,  Sara M. González-Betancor, María Isabel Dorta-González

Since Lawrence in 2001 proposed the open access (OA) citation advantage, the potential benefit of OA in relation to the citation impact has been discussed in depth.

The methodology to test this postulate ranges from comparing the impact factors of OA journals versus traditional ones, to comparing citations of OA versus non-OA articles published in the same non-OA journals.

However, conclusions are not entirely consistent among fields, and two possible explications have been suggested in those fields where a citation advantage has been observed for OA: the early view and the selection bias postulates.

In this study, a longitudinal and multidisciplinary analysis of the gold OA citation advantage is developed. All research articles in all journals for all subject categories in the multidisciplinary database Web of Science are considered.

A total of 1,137,634 articles – 86,712 OA articles (7.6%) and 1,050,922 non-OA articles (92.4%)- published in 2009 are analysed. The citation window considered goes from 2009 to 2014, and data are aggregated for the 249 disciplines (subject categories).

At journal level, we also study the evolution of journal impact factors for OA and non-OA journals in those disciplines whose OA prevalence is higher (top 36 subject categories). As the main conclusion, there is no generalizable gold OA citation advantage, neither at article nor at journal level.