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St Andrews 7th in the world for Open Access

For the first time this year the CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019, which offers insights into scientific performance of nearly 1000 major universities worldwide, has included open access indicators. St Andrews achieved 81.6% open access for the set of publications measured in 2014-2017, which ranks us 7th in the world, top in Scotland and 4th in the UK for the proportion of publications that are open access (OA). We are delighted to see the volume of work (an astonising 4518 publications!) now available to a wide audience, including readers beyond those academics who would have subscription access.

Leiden Ranking: OA indicator, proportional

The OA status is determined by a service called Unpaywall, and distinguises between three types of OA, primarily Gold (in fully OA journals), Hybrid (OA article in a subscription journal), and Green (author version in a repository). 79% of St Andrews OA publications are Green OA, which reflects our strong institutional commitment to make our research available to everyone by depositing all articles in Pure. This consistent message and efforts across the University, with support from the Digital Research open access team, has resulted in this fantastic achievement.

Instituional message to ‘Act on acceptance: deposit in Pure’

Our results show a low proportion of Hybrid OA (16% compared to UK average of 18%), which reflects a decision in Nov 2017 to fund open access fees in fully OA journals only. This puts us in a good position to respond to new policies that are likely to be announced soon following the ‘Plan S’ initiative, which aims to reverse the unsustainable cost of hybrid model of publishing. Our high proportion of OA overall will also serve us well as part of our REF2021 Environment statements, which can include our strategies for working towards open research.

While celebrating this important indicator of scholarly communication, we fully agree with the principles underlying responsible use of metrics which apply to all rankings, including the Leiden Ranking. We acknowledge a level of uncertainty, difficulties in making comparisons, and limitations in the data. In particular we note the ranking is based on bibliographic data from the Web of Science database, using a subset of  ‘core publications’.

Also see blog post from OA Scotland group

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Digital Research, part of Research and Innovation Services
Old Union Diner
Butts Wynd
St Andrews
KY16 9AJ
Fife, Scotland, UK

Open Access email:
Research Data email:

Phone: 01334 468851(OA) / 01334 462343(RDM)

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