Benchmarking open access in publications with authors affiliated to pharma companies and universities

24 October 2023

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Many scientific and medical publications lie behind a paywall. New medical research is increasingly being published as ‘open access’, which makes articles freely available to anyone. This provides major benefits because it gives researchers and members of the public equal access to medical knowledge. It also improves research transparency, which helps to foster public trust.

We looked at the differences in open access publishing for articles with authors affiliated to 40 top pharma companies and 40 top universities. To do this, we made a live dashboard publicly available online. You can view it here.

The dashboard presents information on open access rates either as an overview or in key disease areas (such as cancer or heart disease). You can view the proportion of articles published open access and also see how open access publication patterns (rates, access types and licences) change over time.

We found that about two-thirds of articles published in 2021 are open access. Open access rates were similar for pharma company- and university-affiliated articles, but this varied between therapy areas. However, open access articles with pharma company-affiliated authors were more likely to have some restrictions on how they can be used than articles with authors from universities. This difference may be driven by journal or author policies.

The dashboard will enable us to track ongoing open access publication patterns and identify barriers to open access publishing. This will help us to support the drive for equal open access publishing options for all medical researchers.

To find out more about the study you can access the poster here.