The influence of funding on the Open Access citation advantage

Authors : Pablo Dorta-González, María Isabel Dorta-González

Some of the citation advantage in open access is likely due to more access allows more people to read and hence cite articles they otherwise would not. However, causation is difficult to establish and there are many possible bias. Several factors can affect the observed differences in citation rates.

Funder mandates can be one of them. Funders are likely to have OA requirement, and well-funded studies are more likely to receive more citations than poorly funded studies. In this paper this hypothesis is tested. Thus, we studied the effect of funding on the publication modality and the citations received in more than 128 thousand research articles, of which 31% were funded.

These research articles come from 40 randomly selected subject categories in the year 2016, and the citations received from the period 2016-2020 in the Scopus database. We found open articles published in hybrid journals were considerably more cited than those in open access journals.

Thus, articles under the hybrid gold modality are cite on average twice as those in the gold modality. This is the case regardless of funding, so this evidence is strong. Moreover, within the same publication modality, we found that funded articles generally obtain 50% more citations than unfunded ones.

The most cited modality is the hybrid gold and the least cited is the gold, well below even the paywalled. Furthermore, the use of open access repositories considerably increases the citations received, especially for those articles without funding. Thus, the articles in open access repositories (green) are 50% more cited than the paywalled ones.

This evidence is remarkable and does not depend on funding. Excluding the gold modality, there is a citation advantage in more than 75% of the cases and it is considerably greater among unfunded articles. This result is strong both across fields and over time