OER14 homeApplication › Mr Simon Cotterill

Trends in open access to research publications: case study of 274 oncology journals

Tuesday 9:00-10:30 (3), Marlborough Suite

Type: Short paper

Theme: Open policy, research, scholarship and access

#oer14 #abs104


Simon Cotterill, Senior Research Associate, Newcastle University, [email protected]



The advent of the Internet and the growing requirements from research funders for Open Access (OA) is changing the Publishing industry and its relationships with academia. This analysis of Oncology-related journals provides a case study of these trends and discusses implications for stakeholders.


Oncology-related journals were identified from multiple sources (Entrez, DOAJ, CancerIndex.org, and publishers Websites). Criteria were broadly inclusive with the requirement that the journal is current and specifically related to oncology. Journals were assessed for their level of OA (open, ‘hybrid’ or none), embargo times, and up-front costs for ‘Gold’ OA (access to the full published article). To estimate the proportion of articles from ‘hybrid’ journals that are ‘Gold’ OA, we analysed a sample of 14 journals, which had deposited in PubMed Central (PMC). Using Entrez, all articles published in 2012 from these journals were assessed to see how many had free full-text access in PMC, as a proxy for ‘Gold’ OA. Also the type of ‘Green’ OA (self-archiving) was checked for the journals against the ROMEO database.

Preliminary Results

274 oncology journals were identified and of these 54 (20%) were immediate full OA, 14 (5%) were fully OA after an embargo period (typically of 12 months), 87 (32%) had some articles open access (‘hybrid’), and 119 (43%) no indication of open access. Of the 54 journals with full and immediate OA 19 were launched within the last 4 years. From the sample of ‘hybrid’ journals we analysed 8,182 articles and found that 2,430 (29%) were available free via PMC. Articles for which funder/grant information was recorded were more likely to be included in PMC (75% of 2,151 articles) compared to those that didn’t (13% of 6,031), p<0.0001.


The Internet has provided the foundations to make the results of publically funded research publically available, in its broadest sense, in that clinicians, researchers, patients and other members of the public have rapid free access to research findings. Increasingly it is a requirement of funding that researchers publish in OA (Green or Gold). This has accelerated the changes that the Internet is having on the traditional research publishers and their relationships with academia.

We found growth in dedicated ‘Open’ journals. These are competing with established journals, most of which are now ‘hybrid’, giving the choice to pay to make articles OA. ‘Esteem’ remains an important factor in researchers choice of journal and in contributing to peer review, but now OA is another dimension to consider. With the changing technologies and growth in journals it is unclear about financially sustainability or quality impact, but it brings more opportunities for junior researches, and potentially decreased time-lags to final publication.

To get an individual article published for ‘Gold’ OA there is often little cost difference between selecting a ‘traditional’ journal or an ‘Open’ Journal. However, it raises big issues for Universities/funders in paying for OA and for publishers who are dependent on under threat library subscriptions. The definition of ‘Green’ OA was variable, and its value for stakeholders unclear.

A link to the slides from this paper can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/SimonJCotterill/oer14-oa-journalscasestudy


Entrez / PubMed – National Library of Medicne (USA). Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed [Accessed 25th Nov 2013]
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Available from http://www.doaj.org/ [Accessed 25th Nov 2013]
CancerIndex.org. Available from http://www.cancerindex.org/clinks9.htm [Accessed 25th Nov 2013]
SHERPA ROMEO database. Available from http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/ [Accessed 25th Nov 2013]
SJR Journal rankings. Available from http://www.scimagojr.com/journalrank.php?category=1306 [Accessed 25th Nov 2013]


Further details

Keywords: open access, research, oncology, gold open access, green open access

Mr Simon Cotterill, Senior Research Associate, Newcastle Univesity

Twitter abstract: Trends for increasing Open Access to Research Publications: Case Study of 274 Oncology Journals