By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Differing Assessments of Open-Access ProgressThe Plan S program based in Strasbourg has issued a report with a topline outcome reading, “It is clearly disappointing that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the journals in the ‘transformative journals’ program [from 16 transformative agreement publishers] failed to meet their open-access growth targets” in calendar year 2022.
As a result, the program reports, 1,589 journals are to lose their “transformative journals” program status at the end of this year.
Also this week, however, Taylor & Francis has a more upbeat report—albeit looking at a different sample and contextual framework within its own purview of operation. The Taylor & Francis report cites “significant acceleration of humanities and social-sciences open-access” in the United Kingdom.
The company’s focus is the Jisc and Taylor & Francis Transformative Agreement opened in 2021, and the message is a loud vote for transformative agreements, the study’s text reading, “One of the key drivers of this transition is transformative agreements between publishers and institutions. [These agreements] aim to help institutions to transition to an open-access future by enabling more researchers to publish open-access and increase their research impact.”
The company says that in its operations in partnership with the nonprofit Jisc, it has determined that “In the last two years, 7,900 articles by humanities and social-sciences authors at participating United Kingdom institutions were published open-access in Taylor & Francis journals, more than six times the number in 2019-20.”
In terms of geographical concentrations, Taylor and Francis says it saw “downloads from most countries across the world.” Between 2020 and 2022:
- Central American activity reported 365-percent growth
- Asia saw 220-percent growth
- North American activity grew by 197 percent
- African activity showed a gain of 186 percent
- The Caribbean saw 146-percent growth
In an interesting detail, the report points to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the prevalence of related open-access work.
A total “1,161 articles (16 percent) published open-access via the transformative agreement in 2021 and 2022 are aligned with at least one SDG.”
In addition, “104 articles in 2021 and 2022 align with multiple SDGs, particularly Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8); Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7); Climate Action (Goal 13); and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).
A Focus on Humanities and Social Sciences
The company points up the well-known problem normally found in funding open-access work in the humanities and social sciences, a tradition of researchers in those sectors “having less open-access funding than their peers in STEM.”
As an example, the report looks at work in history, which “with 250 open-access articles in Taylor & Francis journals, was the subject area with the highest number supported by the agreement. The proportion of open-access history articles with an author at a participating United Kingdom institution rose from just 10 percent in 2020 to 74 percent last year.”
Taylor & Francis reports, “Especially high rates of open-access acceleration were seen in some specialist areas. In teacher education in 2020, there were no open-access articles by authors at institutions which later participated in the agreement. After two years, that number had risen to 81 percent of supported authors publishing open-access.”
The report goes on to say that similar levels of open-access growth have been observed by the study’s results in Middle East studies, sexual diversity studies, and physical education.
Emphasizing the point, Taylor & Francis’ humanities and social-sciences director of publishing, Jessica Vivian, is quoted, saying, “We have seen articles gain considerably more impact by being published open-access in subject areas that would not have traditionally had any funding, such as literature, history and politics.”
In terms of what the trends touted in the report might mean for readership, the assessment of performance by open-access articles produced in the Jisc and Taylor & Francis includes several points:
- There was an increase of 432 percent tracked in open-access articles between 2020 and 2022
- Activity in terms of traffic is reported to have amounted to 16.2 million article downloads, including 3.5 million downloads in the United States
- Articles published open-access in this partnership reportedly received an average of 2.18 scholarly citations, whereas non-open-access articles by researchers at the same institutions are said to have gleaned 1.33 citations
- The company says that 499 agreement articles were cited in governmental, intergovernmental, and think-tank policy documents
- A total 4,170 news stories about supported articles were generated through 1,140 outlets operating in in 70 countries