How do recent white papers from Springer Nature and Wiley compare?

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

This year, we saw two of the industry's largest publishers analyze their own data and share their findings around the impact of publishing in open access. Lou, our CEO, was fortunate to be involved in the Wiley white paper and we were fascinated to discover the positive evidenced impact open access is having.


With the release of the new Springer Nature white paper, we thought this would be a great opportunity to compare and summarize both findings. Both papers look at how choosing to publish open access can change the post publication outcomes for research:



the word open picked out in lights on a wooden background

  1. Demonstrating the advantage of publishing open access with Wiley (June 2021)

  2. Going for gold: exploring the reach and impact of gold open access articles in hybrid journals (October 2021)




How does publishing in open access shape how discoverable, accessible or impactful a piece of scholarly work can be? Let's explore both in more detail:


Demonstrating the advantage of publishing open access with Wiley

This June 2021 white paper explored that when publishing with Wiley, was there an advantage in choosing to publish an article as open access (fully and hybrid) over the subscription access model. Core metrics used in the research included:

  • Usage (defined by full text downloads and website visits or sessions).

  • Citations (sourced from Web of Science and Dimensions indices).

  • Altmetric Attention Scores.

Overall, this white paper reports that there is a positive impact associated with publishing open access with Wiley, when comparing the core metrics of usage, citations and Altmetric attention. Specific findings included:


Readership

  • On average, open access articles published across Wiley were downloaded 3x as much as subscription articles.

  • On average, hybrid open access articles received nearly 4x as many downloads as subscription articles.

  • Articles published in fully open access journals typically generated 2x as many full text downloads as subscription articles.

Citations

  • Across the Wiley program, open access articles were cited nearly twice as much compared to subscription articles.

  • Hybrid open access articles received twice as many citations as subscription articles.

Altmetric attention

  • Open access articles received 4.5x as much Altmetric attention as subscription articles.

Source: Demonstrating the advantage of publishing open access with Wiley (June 2021).


Going for gold: exploring the reach and impact of gold open access articles in hybrid journals

This October 2021 white paper explores how publishing open access in a Springer Nature hybrid journal can affect the reach and impact of an article when compared to publishing non-open access in the same Springer Nature hybrid journals. Core metrics used in the research are similar to those of Wiley:

  • Usage (downloads defined by COUNTER standards from Springer Nature servers).

  • Citations (sourced from Web of Science).

  • Altmetric Attention Scores.

Overall, this white paper reports that choosing an open access route when publishing in a Springer Nature hybrid journal benefits the published work, resulting in greater reach and impact, compared to subscription articles. Specific findings included:


Articles published via the gold open access route in hybrid journals on average achieve greater reach and impact, compared to subscription articles with earlier versions available, and to non-open access articles.


Readership

  • Gold open access achieves greater reach. This is 6.02 times more downloads than non-open access on average (6.52 times as many downloads predicted in the model).

Citations

  • Gold open access has the greatest citation advantage. This is 1.64 times higher than non-open access, or 2.12 times higher in the predictive model.

  • Gold open access also has a higher citation advantage compared to subscription articles with earlier versions available, which only achieve 1.07 times higher citations than non-open access, or 1.17 times higher in the model.

Altmetric attention

  • Gold open access achieves increased attention. On average, gold open access articles have 4.91 times as high an Altmetric Attention Score as non-open access articles, while subscription articles with earlier versions available have 2.10 times as high an Altmetric Attention Score as non-open access articles in hybrid journals, on average.

Variations by discipline are seen but gold open access exceeds the reach and impact of both non-open access articles and subscription articles with earlier versions available. Although there is wide variation by subject area, there is a clear advantage for open access compared to non-open access across every discipline.

  • Gold open access articles outperformed both non-open access articles and subscription articles with earlier versions available on all three measures in nearly every discipline, looking both at averages and predicted models (in the case of Materials Science, only for the predicted average).

  • Overall, there is a citation advantage for gold open access with up to 2.32 times as many citations compared to non-open access, (up to 3.61 times as many in the model) - with the exception of Materials Science, only for the predicted average. The citation advantage for gold open access continues when compared to subscription articles with earlier versions available, with up to 1.38 to 1.89 times as many citations as non-open access.

  • For downloads, gold open access articles always achieved more downloads across all subjects than either non-open access or subscription articles with earlier versions available, ranging from 3.79 times as many in Mathematics to 6.13 times as many in Life Sciences.

  • Typically, there is a far larger gold open access Altmetric Attention Score advantage ranging from 3.57 to 6.60 times as many, compared to 1.73 to 4.19 times as many for subscription articles with earlier versions available.

  • The largest Altmetric score advantage seen is for gold open access articles in Mathematics with 6.60 times as many on average, or based on the predictive model, the Life Sciences has the largest advantage with 7.30 times as many. The lowest Altmetric Attention Score advantage comes from subscription articles with earlier versions available in the Life Sciences, with 1.73 times as many on average (or based on the predictive model, 2.17 times as many).

Source: Going for gold: exploring the reach and impact of gold open access articles in hybrid journals (October 2021).


Conclusion


open white doors on a blue background

With similar focuses for the two papers, it is useful to discuss how the findings compare. The Wiley white paper compares articles in fully and hybrid open access and subscription journals whereas Springer Nature compares articles in hybrid open access journals only published as open access or behind a paywall. There are additional variances in the type of methodology used so the data can not be compared like for like.


When comparing hybrid open access articles to subscription/non-open access articles each found hybrid open access articles received more downloads (on average, Wiley 4 times as many and Springer Nature 6 times more). Also there were twice as many citations for Wiley and 1.6 times higher citations for Springer Nature.


It is immediately apparent that both white papers found that overall, publishing articles as open access has clear advantages compared to publishing subscription articles. Articles published open access in Wiley and Springer Nature are more discoverable, accessible and impactful than those published behind a paywall.


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