As tensions over the costs of institutional subscription packages grow between universities and publishers, the finding that roughly half of recently published research may be available to read for free could “tip the scales toward cancellation for some institutions”, the study says. “In the next few decades, we’re going to be seeing nearly all the literature available freely.” An earlier version of this story stated that free-to-read articles are cited 18% more than paywalled articles; in fact, the comparison is with the average for all articles for a given subject area and publication year.
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The work, published on 2 August in Peer J Preprints, examined reader data from a web-browser extension called Unpaywall, which trawls the Internet to find free-to-read versions of paywalled papers.
The tool, which launched in April, was developed by two authors of the study, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar, who co-founded the non-profit company Impactstory in Vancouver, Canada.
, at least to the extent of classifying and placing sites into a categorization scheme.
However, sites harvested by "spiders" or "robots" for search engines don't go through any evaluative process.To be certain, he says, one would need to check whether researchers citing the studies have access to paywalled content.Priem says that one limitation of the study is that its samples included only articles with DOIs, which aren’t always used by publishers in the arts and humanities disciplines and in the developing world.Free Online Research Papers is made possible by people like you submitting and commenting on research papers, research articles, book reviews, poetry, and creative writing pieces.Almost half of the scholarly papers that people attempt to access online are now freely and legally available, according to a huge study that tracked 100,000 online requests for journal papers in June.Another 9% of the studies were still published behind a paywall, but authors later uploaded their paper — or some version of it, such as a peer-reviewed manuscript — to an online repository (see ‘The state of open research’).The most intriguing category of papers were the 15% that were posted on a publisher’s site as free to read, but without any explicit open licence.You will be re-directed back to this page where you will see comments updating in real-time and have the ability to recommend comments to other users.Any information that you use to support ideas and arguments in a research paper should be given some scrutiny.It also scoured social scholarly networks such as and Research Gate — which the Unpaywall study does not examine — and estimated that, at the time, more than half of peer-reviewed research articles published from 2007–12 were free to read online.Given the methodological differences, that’s roughly comparable to the finding in the new work, Piwowar says.