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Open@UCL Blog



Open Access at UCL in numbers

By Patrycja, on 8 October 2020

This is the first in a new series of regular posts in which we plan to celebrate the huge numbers of research outputs that UCL academics are making open access, and the impact of this worldwide.

UCL Discovery in numbers

Despite this year’s unprecedented demands on academics, UCL authors have been depositing their papers at the same impressive rate as before COVID. Our team has continued to process 1,600 papers each month, on average, making them openly available in UCL Discovery, our institutional repository. As of October, the repository holds over 105,000 outputs that are currently openly available to download – this is a significant increase from over 83,000 that were available at the same time last year, and a testament to the success of the REF open access policy.

Research outputs in UCL Discovery have just reached over 22 million lifetime downloads, of which over 3 million are downloads of open access books published by UCL Press. Our global readership spans over 250 countries; the top five countries downloading from the repository are the US, UK, India, Canada and Germany.

This year alone, the repository had over 3,300,000 downloads. The most popular item so far in 2020, with over 11,000 downloads, is a journal article originally published in Nature, Mastering the game of Go without human knowledge. Other popular items include a recent publication from UCL Press, The Responsibility of Intellectuals: Reflections by Noam Chomsky and others after 50 years, with over 8,000 downloads (interestingly, this book is particularly popular in Canada). How the World Changed Social Media is also going strong this year, and kept its position in the top 10 most downloaded items (more than 88,000 lifetime downloads). Unsurprisingly, an article on COVID-19, The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health, is also one of the top downloaded items, with over 8,000 downloads so far.

RPS in numbers

We’ve written before about the new functionality that we introduced to UCL’s Research Publications Service this summer. It allows you to send publications recorded in RPS to your ORCID record automatically. 75% of research staff have added their ORCID record to RPS to enable autoclaiming. We’re very excited that 20% of those have also now given RPS permission to send publications to their ORCID record, so they don’t have to add them manually. It’s great that so many academics are linking and sharing information about research outputs in this way, and we hope that it soon becomes a time-saver for many more. You can find out more about the tool, and how easy it is to set it up, on our ORCID guide.

Doctoral theses in UCL Discovery

Of all the items that are available in UCL Discovery, over 18,000 are doctoral thesis. At UCL, the requirement to submit an electronic copy of your thesis as a condition of award has been in place since 2009. In addition to that, we have retrospectively digitised theses from earlier years, as a part of a collaborative project with ProQuest. Currently, over 8,000 retrospectively digitised thesis are available in the repository. The oldest digitised thesis dates as far back as 1933.

UCL theses are one of the most downloaded types of item in the repository, with over 7 million lifetime downloads. The most popular doctoral thesis, with over 3,600 downloads over the last twelve months, is a 1992 thesis, Fatigue and fracture mechanics analysis of threaded connections, available here.

Gold open access in numbers

So far, we’ve focused on the Green route to open access, where outputs are made available, usually as final accepted manuscripts, after the publisher’s embargo period. Plan S funders, of course, will soon require immediate open access, and Plan S’s Rights Retention Strategy will allow authors to make papers published in subscription journals open access without an embargo (option 2 in Plan S).

Many UCL academics publish via the Gold route to open access, either in fully open access journals (option 1 in Plan S), or under transformative agreements (option 3 in Plan S). This year to date UCL’s Open Access Team has arranged immediate open access for over 1,800 UCL papers.

There are more than 5,000 journals covered in UCL’s transformative agreements, including small and society publishers like Electrochemical Society, European Respiratory Journal, IWA Publishing, Microbiology Society, Portland Press Biochemical Society journals, Rockefeller University Press, Royal Society of Chemistry. This allows authors publishing in these journals to comply with their funders’ requirements and Plan S. Negotiations with other publishers are happening for 2021.

Until the end of this year, papers funded by the Wellcome Trust that are submitted to  subscription journals can still use UCL’s Wellcome funds. Papers submitted from 1 January 2021 will need to follow the requirements of the new Wellcome open access policy [link], which means that funds will only be available for open access in fully open access journals and subscription journals that are part of UCL’s transformative agreements. Other papers will need to follow the Wellcome’s second route to open access, depositing their manuscript in Europe PubMed Central, to be made open access immediately, under the Rights Retention Strategy. We expect the current arrangements for papers funded by one of the UK Research Councils to continue until a new UKRI open access policy is introduced next year.

During OA Week we have a Q&A session on open access. This event, for UCL researchers, is an opportunity to ask questions about the new open access funding arrangements, transformative agreements, Plan S, depositing your research in UCL Discovery, and more. Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session.

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