What happens when a journal converts to Open Access? A bibliometric analysis

Authors : Fakhri Momeni, Philipp Mayr, Nicholas Fraser, Isabella Peters

In recent years, increased stakeholder pressure to transition research to Open Access has led to many journals converting, or ‘flipping’, from a closed access (CA) to an open access (OA) publishing model.

Changing the publishing model can influence the decision of authors to submit their papers to a journal, and increased article accessibility may influence citation behaviour. In this paper we aimed to understand how flipping a journal to an OA model influences the journal’s future publication volumes and citation impact.

We analysed two independent sets of journals that had flipped to an OA model, one from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and one from the Open Access Directory (OAD), and compared their development with two respective control groups of similar journals. For bibliometric analyses, journals were matched to the Scopus database.

We assessed changes in the number of articles published over time, as well as two citation metrics at the journal and article level: the normalised impact factor (IF) and the average relative citations (ARC), respectively. Our results show that overall, journals that flipped to an OA model increased their publication output compared to journals that remained closed.

Mean normalised IF and ARC also generally increased following the flip to an OA model, at a greater rate than was observed in the control groups. However, the changes appear to vary largely by scientific discipline. Overall, these results indicate that flipping to an OA publishing model can bring positive changes to a journal.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.14522

Attracting new users or business as usual? A case study of converting academic subscription-based journals to open access

Author : Lars Wenaas

This paper studies a selection of 11 Norwegian journals in the humanities and social sciences and their conversion from subscription to open access, a move heavily incentivized by governmental mandates and open access policies.

By investigating the journals’ visiting logs in the period 2014–2019, the study finds that a conversion to open access induces higher visiting numbers; all journals in the study had a significant increase, which can be attributed to the conversion.

Converting a journal had no spillover in terms of increased visits to previously published articles still behind the paywall in the same journals. Visits from previously subscribing Norwegian higher education institutions did not account for the increase in visits, indicating that the increase must be accounted for by visitors from other sectors.

The results could be relevant for policymakers concerning the effects of strict policies targeting economically vulnerable national journals, and could further inform journal owners and editors on the effects of converting to open access.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00126