Since the World Wide Web emerged in the mid 1990s scientists have dreamed of having the whole body of scientific peer reviewed literature freely available on the web, openly available without any hindrance. In the "Open Access" scenario each published article is just one mouse-click away from any reader worldwide, a model which is in sharp contrast to the established subscription system (whereby access is only provided to those people who are able to pay for an annual subscription), 'Open Access' removes any barriers to what many believe should be publicly available material and in addition, provides for full use and re-use of the published output (hence facilitating developments such as data mining of knowledge discovery).
Slowly but steadily Open Access (OA) to peer reviewed journal articles has increased, due to the emergence of over 6,000 open access journals; pressure from research funders such as the NIH; and a growing awareness among scholars of the advantages of publishing in OA journals. A number of specialized OA publishers such as the Public Library of Science (the publisher of this article), BioMedCentral, and Hindawi have entered the market and more traditional publishers have also begun to offer OA alternatives.
A study published June 13 in the open access journal PLoS ONE reports on the rapid growth of Open Access publishing since the start of the World Wide Web. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the HANKEN School of Economics. The results show a very rapid growth of OA publishing during the period of 1993-2009. In 2009 an estimated 191, 000 articles were published in 4,769 OA journals. Since the year 2000, the average annual growth rate has been 18 % for the number of OA journals and 30 % for the number of OA articles. This can be contrasted to the reported 3.5 % yearly increase in the total number of peer reviewed journals. It was estimated that in 2009, articles in OA journals reached 7.7 % of all peer reviewed journal articles.
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