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More than half of UK-authored research articles are made accessible for public view within 12 months, new Universities UK report shows

Latest Universities UK report analyses the UK’s transition and progress to open access


A report commissioned by Universities UK (UUK) and conducted by UUK’s Open Access Coordination Group, including information analytics business Elsevier, the University of Sheffield, Research Consulting and Jubb Consulting, reveals that the UK is well above global averages for open access (OA).

Building on their report from 2015, UUK’s Open Access Coordination Group’s latest report, Monitoring the transition to open access – December 2017, examines the UK’s transition to open access between 2012-2016 and how new policies promoting OA have affected the sector.

Drawing on data from Elsevier’s Scopus, the report is structured around five strands, including the OA publishing options available to authors, uptake of those options, numbers of downloads for OA and non-OA articles, financial implications for funders and universities, and implications for learned societies.

Results revealed include:

  • More than half of UK-authored articles are made accessible for public view within 12 months, either through Gold or Green OA
  • 37% of UK outputs (vs. 25% globally) are freely available to the world immediately on publication, either through Gold or Green OA
  • The proportion of UK-authored articles published open access rose from 12% in 2012 to 30% in 2016, an annual growth rate of over 30% sustained throughout the period
  • The global proportion of articles accessible for public view after 12 months via Gold or Green OA rose from 25% to 32% between 2012 and 2016; and the UK proportion rose from 37% to 54%
  • The proportion of journals indexed in Scopus that offer immediate OA is rising, with over 60% of journals offering the option in 2016
  • Globally, OA articles are downloaded from publishers’ sites more than non-OA articles

Professor Adam Tickell, Chair of Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group, said: “Through the collaborative and constructive approach taken by all stakeholders, we have contributed to advancing open access in the UK and have made it a leader in this regard. It is clear that working together will continue to be important to ensure that the transition to open access is maintained, is financially sustainable, and that the benefits to research and to society are maximised.”

Dr Andrew Plume, Elsevier Director Market Intelligence, said: “Building from our earlier work with the UUK OA Coordination Group we are pleased to again provide data from our Scopus database- including selection criteria that cover the breath of different journal business models operating worldwide- as well as our analytical contributions to this follow up report. We hope that this level of data analysis provides valuable insights for UUK and the wider research community regarding the status of the UK’s transition to OA – and what has changed since the 2015 report.”


Report access

About Universities UK
Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 136 members and offices in London, Cardiff (Universities Wales) and Edinburgh (Universities Scotland), it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit:​

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray’s Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries.

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