‘Bronze’ open access supersedes green and gold
Publishers can deny access to the majority of open-access articles at their discretion.
This article was originally published at Nature Index in March 2018
Most open-access articles are not accompanied by a license, severely curtailing their use, a recent survey of 100,000 articles sampled from the CrossRef database has revealed.
Without a license, articles are free to read, but can’t be redistributed or reused, for example, in presentations or course material, says Heather Piwowar, co-founder of the open science not-for-profit ImpactStory, who led the analysis. Without explicit permission, they also can’t be mined by computer software. “As artificial intelligence and machine learning become increasingly important tools, we need our research literature open and available for computational approaches to synthesize it, summarize it, and discover new patterns,” she says.
Piwowar’s study, published in PeerJ, shows a steady growth in open access since the 1990s, so that by 2016 it accounted for more than 40% of all research articles. This increase was driven by articles published in so-called gold open-access journals, in which all articles are free to read immediately upon publication, as well as hybrid journals, where authors can pay to release individual articles from behind a paywall.
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