How many articles, how many journals?

Thanks to Dietrich Rordorf’s comment on a post at Scholars Kitchen, I am now aware of MDPI’s sciforum (the link is to the journal reviews/statistics section), which among other things “aims at publishing statistics and rankings of scientific and scholarly journals and their Publishers.” Quoting from the disclaimer:

Statistics are automatically computed from available data, and are not manually curated. While we have made every possible effort to provide meaningful statistics, we can not guarantee the correctness or accuracy of any of the statistics. Statistics might be recomputed anytime without notice. Access to statistics might be disabled anytime without notice.

Quoting the section on Open Access:

Data about papers published under open access licenses are currently collected from two providers: DOAJ (licensing information available on journal-level but only for journals that publish exclusively under open access licenses), and Publisher website metadata (licensing information available on a per paper-level for some Publishers). We will include PubMed Central article-level licensing data in a future update. Because many hybrid journals do not offer metadata or licensing information which are easily machine-readable, the statistics about open access content are likely too low. E.g. JR reports 270’000 open access papers for a total market size of roughly 2.4 million papers for 2013 (which is about 11% open access papers). In reality the share of open access papers might be much higher if all papers published under open licenses in hybrid journals could be easily and properly counted). Green open access, i.e. self-archived pre- or post-prints are currently not included.

The section also specifies where data comes from.

I’m delighted there is such a source. Think of the rest of this as additional data (yes, I’ll be emailing a note to Rordorf, but I’m not sure how he can blend manually-counted and automatically-gathered data).

Note that I don’t include “hybrid” OA in my counts at all, partly because there’s no good way to count it, partly because it’s consistently the most expensive form of OA and, I believe, the wrong way to go about OA. Neither does this site because there’s no good way to count it.

Number of Journals

Sciforum shows 25,064 journals publishing at least one article in 2014, of which 3,693 journals are Gold OA—and the chart shows that as being down from 3,990 with at least one article in 2013.

My study, excluding questionable journals and those not in DOAJ, shows 8,760 gold OA journals publishing at least one article in 2014, but that number is down slightly, from 8,960 in 2013.

That’s an enormous difference, one that I believe speaks to the limitations (at this point) of automated data gathering for OA. Even leaving out the global south can’t really account for omitting more than half of the active journals. (Sciforum does not indicate that it’s limited to STM, so I’m assuming it’s not.)

Number of Articles

Sciforum shows 2,423,122 articles in 2014, up from 2,248,966 in 2014. So “roughly a quarter million” seems like a plausible estimate for the total article production.

But: Sciforum shows 302,339 OA articles in 2014, 279,967 in 2013, 250,237 in 2012 and 196,508 in 2011.

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 shows 482,361 articles in 2014, 440,843 in 2013, 394,374 in 2012 and 321,312 in 2011.

Those are also enormous differences, although slightly smaller percentage-wise. To wit, my actual count (again omitting hybrids, questionable journals and journals not in DOAJ) is 60% higher for 2014, 57% higher for 2013, 58% higher for 2012 and 64% higher for 2011.

If we assume that subscription journals can be measured more accurately through automated means (an assumption I’m a little wary of making), then actual article totals for 2014 are around 2.6 million, of which around 18% are in gold OA journals.

My main takeaway: at this point, automated data gathering severely undercounts the OA field—which, given the ludicrous amount of time spent gathering data manually (but hey! book sales are already up to…well, five copies so far), is at least a trifle reassuring.

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