Open access (OA) can be defined as the practice of providing on-line access to scientific information that is free of charge to the user and that is re-usable. A distinction is usually made between OA to scientific peer reviewed publications and research data.
In Horizon 2020 open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications (primarily articles) is mandatory; however, researchers can choose between the open access route most appropriate to them.
For open access publishing (gold open access), researchers can publish in open access journals, or in journals that sell subscriptions and also offer the possibility of making individual articles openly accessible (hybrid journals). In that case, publishers often charge an article processing charge (APC). These costs are eligible for reimbursement during the duration of the Horizon 2020 grant. For APCs incurred after the end of the grant agreement, a mechanism for reimbursing some of these costs is being piloted and implemented through the OpenAIRE project. Note that in case of gold open access publishing, a copy must also be deposited in an open access repository.
For self-archiving (green open access), researchers deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript in a repository of their choice. In this case, they must ensure open access to the publication within six months of publication (12 months in case of the social sciences and humanities).
This page provides an overview of the state of play as regards the uptake of open access to scientific publications in Horizon 2020 from 2014 to 2017, updating information from 2016.
Two datasets have been used for the analysis presented in this note: one dataset from the EU funded OpenAIRE project for FP7 and H2020 and one dataset from CORDA for H2020, which also provides supplementary information on article processing charges and embargo periods. The datasets are from September and August 2017 respectively.
The OpenAIRE sample includes primarily peer-reviewed scientific articles but also some other forms of publications such as conference papers, book chapters and reports or pre-prints. It is based on information obtained from Open Access repositories, pre-print servers, OA journals and project reports and contains some underreporting since OpenAIRE has difficulties tracking hybrid publications and publications in repositories which are not OpenAIRE compliant. The CORDA sample contains only peer-reviewed scientific articles and is based on project self-reporting. The figures in this note measure open access in a broad sense and not the compliance with the specifics of article 29.2. of the Model Grant Agreement.
The 2017 analysis of open access during the entirety of Horizon 2020 so far shows an overall open access rate of 63,2% from OpenAIRE data (+2,4% compared with the sample from 2016). Internal project reporting through SYGMA shows a total of 80,6% open access for Horizon 2020 scientific peer reviewed articles and 75% for all peer-reviewed publications (including also conference procedures, book chapter, monographs and the like); however, since this data is based on beneficiary self-reporting it may contain some over-reporting.
According to the OpenAIRE sample 75% of publications are green open access and 25% gold open access. Internal figures are similar although they show a slightly higher amount of gold OA with a split of 70% green and 30% gold.
For gold OA internal project reporting suggests than an average of 1500 € is spent per article (median: 1200 €), an increase from the average of 1006 € in the previous sample. A more detailed analysis reveals that 27% percent of articles have a price tag of between 1000 to 1999 €. It is also important to note that 26% of all publications are in gold OA but without any APC charges. Very high APCs of 4000€ or more only concerns a tiny fraction of Horizon 2020 publications (3%).
The average embargo period of green OA publications is 10 months, that is a decrease of 1 month from the 2016 sample. 40% of articles have an embargo period of 11-12 months, followed by 575 articles (or 33% with no embargo period at all. 302 articles, that is 17% have an embargo period of 12,1-24 months and 162 articles or 9% of 0,1 to 6 months. Finally, 12 articles, that is 1%, have an embargo period that is longer than 36 months.
This 2017 analysis thus broadly confirms the earlier findings from summer 2016, but is based on a larger and more robust sample. In the 2017 sample overall open access rates have gone up in all the datasets and cohorts. The distribution between gold and green open access remains similar to the 2016 dataset; for gold OA, average APCs have increased, for green OA embargo periods have slight decreased.
Please consult the background note for a more detailed analysis. Note also that these files only refer to open access to publications. Information on open access to research data is made available on the open data portal on a different page.
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