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Tracking the Rise of Open Access? Try Web of Science

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The new Web of Science interface has a feature that allows one to refine search results by the category of “Open Access”.  This opens up some interesting possibilities for analysis for researchers as well as for librarians.  For example, a quick search can help shed light on general trends in open access publishing by subject area. Searching the topic of bird migration in the Web of Science (1987-present) yields approximately 5,500 records, of which about 300 (or 5%) were published in an open access resource.  Looking at the last 15 years in 5-year increments reveals an upward trend in open access for this subject area. In years 1999-2003, just about 1% of the records in Web of Science on this topic were published in open access sources.  In the next 5-year period, 2004-2008, 5% were open access.  In years 2009-2013, 10% of the search results came from open access sources.  It will be interesting to replicate this search in 5 more years to see where the numbers fall.

-Eric Snajdr