From UKSG Insights: More Readers in More Places

Study of OA Monograph Usage Published in UKSG Insights


More Readers in More Places: The Benefits of Open Access for Scholarly Books
Neylon,C., Ozaygen, A., Montgomery, L., et al. 
UKSG Insights – 34 (1), 2021
DOI: 10.1629/uksg.558

The rationale behind this specific study is a desire by stakeholders to better understand patterns of use of OA book titles. Recognizing that disciplinary practices would be relevant to proper analysis, the study looked at titles across five broad groups (1) the humanities; (2) social sciences; (3) business and economics; (4) medical, biomedical and life sciences; and (5) physical sciences, engineering, mathematics and computer science. The analysis covered usage over the course of 40 months (3 years and 4 months)

Comparing usage of 281 OA titles and a stratified random sampling of 3,653 titles that were not available as OA titles, the results would appear to show “a higher geographic diversity of usage, higher numbers of downloads and more citations for OA books across all strata”. Traditionally under-served populations were shown to benefit from the availability of OA book content.

This article, which extends the findings of Snijder, provides an update to evidence-based arguments for the benefits of OA to scholarly books. Our analysis of a larger sample allows us to investigate these effects, particularly the geographic effects, in much greater detail. Using books available from a common source (i.e. Springer Nature) also alleviates some of the challenges discussed above. Having download data by month and various disciplines for all books allows us to confirm that downloads are higher for OA books across their whole history and across all disciplines. We also update analysis on the effects of OA across downloads, citations and web visibility for a single large sample…

The research findings address in more detail the following:

  • Open Access Books Show More Overall Usage

Quote: The number of citations is a useful proxy of academic usage, while web visibility provides insight into how the books are being used on the web: either as linked text or references. These are additional proxies of usage to the number of downloads for books. The presence of higher levels of usage signalled by all three proxies suggest that OA books are not only being downloaded more often than their non-OA counterparts, but are also being read, used, referenced and attracting attention in different ways. This strengthens the case for a usage effect that is related to OA specifically.

  • Open Access Books Show More Usage Over Time
  • Open Access Books Show Usage in a Wider Range of Countries
  • Open Access Books Show Increased Usage For Underserved Populations
  • Open Access Books Show Higher Diversity of Usage
  • Open Access Books Associated with a Larger Title Effect on Geographic Usage
  • Anonymous Usage vs. Logged-in Usage
  • Web Visibility Across Top Level Domains (TLDs)

The full text of the article may be reviewed online here, but only registered members of the Open Research Community are allowed to download the document.