UCL World ranking linked to access to research

By Erica D McLaren, on 12 September 2012

According to an article in the Evening Standard yesterday, UCL’s fourth ranking in the QS World University Rankings 2012 is attributable, in part, to the quality of UCL research and the number of times UCL research has been cited.

Judith Burns, BBC News Education reporter, quoted John O’Leary from the Times Good University Guide as saying ‘UCL in particular had done a lot better than in previous years in terms of the number of times its research had been cited in academic journals’.

Although no direct link has been made to UCL’s commitment to Open Access, the download figures for UCL’s Open Access repository, UCL Discovery, continue to show a growing interest in UCL research made freely available. For example, the total downloads in August 2011 came to approximately 3,000, but for August 2012 the figure had risen to 7,000 downloads per month. Comparing annual total downloads show the true extent of the increase:

2008: 188,751
2009: 305,462
2010: 531,905
2011: 584,965

Although there is an ongoing debate on whether or not it can be proved conclusively that Open Access increases citation counts, studies continue to support the link. In a paper presented at the 2011 iConference by Lifang Xu, Jinhong Liu, and Qing Fang of the Wuhan University, Xu et al reported that Open Access articles have, on average, citation rates 138.87% higher than articles not made available on Open Access. They suggested further research is needed to look at any variation in benefits resulting from journal impact factors and research disciplines.