25 October 2016 | Category: Open Access, Publication strategy

Citation advantage for Open Access publications

By Jacquelijn Ringersma

Jacquelijn is the Coordinator Research Data Management of th...

Open access (OA) is free access to scientific information such as journal articles. The main argument for OA publishing is that the outcome of scientific studies should be available to the public, industries, third world countries etc. However, there is a more direct interest for the authors themselves. This blog is a summary of the paper ‘Research impact of paywalled versus open access papers’ by Archambault et al. (2016)[1] completed with specific information relevant for WUR researchers. The authors of the mentioned paper conclude that a citation advantage exists for OA papers and that this advantage is larger for green OA compared to gold OA. The advantage is also true for most of the WUR scientific domains.

Gold or green?

Gold OA is OA through the publishers websites. Since 2016 the VSNU has an Open Access (OA) deal with most important scientific publishers. The VSNU deal allows Dutch scientists to publish OA in over 3500 journals, with a 100% discount on the Article Processing Charges (APC). More journals will follow in the next three years. Many of these journals are relevant for WUR scientists. The Library provides information on which journals are available for free OA publication, and whether these journals are in the Q1-4 quartile. Over 2500 journals in the Q1 quartile are available for OA. Green OA is through the deposition of papers through an institutional repository. The Library infrastructure supports Green OA. (see Staff Publications).

The Library provides tooling for choosing OA journals for publishing gold OA

Higher citation for OA publications

Many studies argue that there is a citation advantage of Open Access (OA) papers (see sparceurope). However, there are also sceptics, which argue that the advantage is due to head start (citations of OA having a change to arrive sooner) or choice for OA for best papers only. The study by Archambault et al. (2016) on research impact of OA is based on over 3 million papers published between 2007 and 2009 and indexed in the Web of Science. The papers received around 35 million citations in total. In their study the average relative citations (ARC) are compared for gold OA, green OA and non-OA. An ARC above 1 means more frequent citations than the average in one of the three classes of OA, below 1 means that there are less citations than average. The authors distinguish ARC’s in 22 scientific fields.

WUR scientific domains

In total, for all 22 fields, fostering OA is always a better impact maximization strategy than relying on non-OA. Green OA is the most impactful strategy for 19 fields out of 22. However, in six fields, Gold OA has the least impact. We show the results of the study for some WUR related fields in Table 1.

Fostering OA is a better impact maximizing strategy than relying on non-OA

Table 1: Research impact of different OA classes

ARC of Open Access classes
Field Paper (n) Reference (n) Non OA OA Gold Green
All 22 fields 3.350.910 34.865.430 0.81 1.23 1.06 1.28
Agriculture, fishery and forestry 138.025 804.386 0.85 1.18 0.73 1.35
Biology 151.424 1.882.514 0.74 1.17 1.33 1.18
Biomedical research 291.325 5.581.332 0.80 1.14 1.16 1.09
Earth & environmental sciences 117.429 1.332.707 0.82 1.16 0.82 1.20
Social sciences 86.513 421.516 0.69 1.49 0.89 1.63


An Open Access publication strategy contributes to the dissemination of knowledge to society and commercial parties. In addition, it can also contribute to an advantage in citation rate over publications that are not OA. In general, for all WUR related fields the ARC for OA is higher than for paywalled publications. The effect is higher for green OA than for gold OA.

Please check the WUR Library journal browser to find out in which journals you can obtain a 100% discount on the APC’s for OA publications. If you want to publish your paper in green OA, please send your text only post-print to the library for dissemination in Wageningen Staff Publications.

You may also want to read our news item on the paper by Archambault et al. (2016)[1]

[1] www.1science.com/PDF/oaNumber_OACA_3million_paper.pdf

By Jacquelijn Ringersma

Jacquelijn is the Coordinator Research Data Management of the Wageningen Competence Centre. She works closely together with the Data Management Support team of the Library, IT and DML services.

Research Data Management (RDM) has had her interest since 2005, when she started working for the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, where RDM was an almost natural part of the academic workflow. From 2011 till 2018 she was the head of the Digital Production Centre of WUR Library. From that time she has contributed to the development of RDM policy and support within WUR.

Jacquelijn is the chair of the Working Group engagement of the National Coordination Point on RDM and a member of the Special Interest Group Agricultural Data of the RDA (Research Data Alliance).

All self respecting research institutes should advocate for FAIR data. Their libraries and IT services should support this to the max.

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