Scholarly Communications Librarian University of Minnesota Libraries Minneapolis
Objectives: The potential for open access (OA) publication to increase citation rates of articles was first articulated in 2001. Since then, support for and refutation of the OA citation advantage has been abundant. OA’s influence on citation remains unclear, particularly across disciplines, data sources, and methodological approaches. This systematic review aims to determine if the OA citation advantage is real.
Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the literature in accordance with MECIR standards to identify all publications that compared citation rates of OA and non-OA publications. We executed this search across seventeen databases representing a broad range of disciplines. Title and abstract screening, full-text screening, data extraction and risk of bias assessment were completed by two independent reviewers and discrepancies were resolved through consensus or by a third party where necessary. We extracted data to describe both the exposure (OA) and control (non-OA) groups, including number of included studies, as well as cumulative citations and data source of citations. We also recorded how open access was defined, how samples were identified, and the citation window considered. Risk of bias assessment was completed to assess underlying methodological quality of the component studies.
Results: With duplicates removed, we screened 2,108 titles and abstracts. 1866 items were removed at this phase, leading to 242 full-text articles being assessed and ultimately 115 items being included in qualitative synthesis. These articles represented a broad range of disciplines, data sources, and outcome measures. Data extraction also uncovered notable issues with incomplete reporting. 54 of the included studies reported an open access citation advantage while 28 reported an advantage in subsets and 32 reported no citation advantage. 1 study reported inconclusive results. Risk of bias assessment and quantitative synthesis are currently underway.