The Open Access Citation Advantage: Does It Exist and What Does It Mean for Libraries?

Colby Lil Lewis


The last literature review of research on the existence of an Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA) was published in 2011 by Philip M. Davis and William H. Walters. This paper reexamines the conclusions reached by Davis and Walters by providing a critical review of OACA literature that has been published 2011, and explores how increases in OA publication trends could serve as a leveraging tool for libraries against the high costs of journal subscriptions.

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Elsevier, “Your Guide to Publishing Open Access with Elsevier” (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 2015), 2,

Philip M. Davis and William H. Walters, “The Impact of Free Access to the Scientific Literature: A Review of Recent Research,” Journal of the Medical Library Association 99, no. 3 (July 2011): 213,

David and Walters, “The Impact of Free Access,” 208.

Kristin Antelman, “Leveraging the Growth of Open Access in Library Collection Decision Making,” ACRL 2017 Proceedings: At the Helm, Leading the Transformation, March 22¬–25, Baltimore, Maryland, ed. Dawn M. Mueller (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017): 411, 413,

Research Information Network, “Nature Communications: Citation Analysis,” press release, 2014,

Gargouri et al., “Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research,” PLoS ONE 5, no. 10 (October 2010): 17,

David Crotty, “When Bad Science Wins, or ‘I’ll See It When I Believe It’,” Scholarly Kitchen, August 31, 2016,

Jim Ottaviani, “The Post-Embargo Open Access Citation Advantage: It Exists (Probably), It’s Modest (Usually), and the Rich Get Richer (of Course),” PLoS ONE 11, no. 8 (August 2016): 9,

Gargouri et al., “Self-Selected or Mandated,” 18.

Elsevier, “Your Guide to Publishing,” 2.

Top-Level Domain (TLD) refers to the last string of letters in an internet domain name (i.e., the TLD of is .com). For more information on TLDs, see Tim Fisher, “Top-Level Domain (TLD),” Lifewire, July 30, 2017, For a full list of TLDs, see “List of Top-Level Domains,” Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, last updated September 13, 2018,

Crotty, “When Bad Science Wins.”

Hersh and Plume, “Citation Metrics and Open Access: What Do We Know?,” Elsevier Connect, September 14, 2016,

Archambault et al., “Research Impact of Paywalled Versus Open Access Papers,” white paper, Science-Metrix and 1science, 2016,

Archambault et al., “Research Impact.”

Heather Piwowar et al., “The State of OA: A Large-Scale Analysis of the Prevalence and Impact of Open Access Articles,” PeerJ, February 13, 2018,

Piwowar et al., “The State of OA,” 5.

David Crotty, “Study Suggests Publisher Public Access Outpacing Open Access; Gold OA Decreases Citation Performance,” Scholarly Kitchen, October 4, 2017,

Archambault et al., “Research Impact”; Piwowar et al., “The state of OA,” 15.

Piwowar et al., “The State of OA,” 9–10.

Archambault et al., “Research Impact.”

Ottaviani, “The Post-Embargo Open Access Citation Advantage,” 2.

Piwowar et al., “The State of OA,” 9.

Hersh and Plume, “Citation Metrics and Open Access.”

Hersh and Plume, “Citation Metrics and Open Access.”

Tang et al., “Open Access Increases Citations of Papers in Ecology,” Ecosphere 8, no. 7 (July 2017): 8,

Tang et al., “Open Access Increases Citations,” 7. Tang et al. list the following as examples of the “numerous studies” as quoted above, which I did not include in the quote for the purpose of brevity: (Antelman 2004, Hajjem et al. 2005, Eysenbach 2006, Evans and Reimer 2009, Calver and Bradley 2010, Riera and Aibar 2013, Clements 2017).

Yuri Niyazov et al., “Open Access Meets Discoverability: Citations to Articles Posted to,” PLoS ONE 11, no. 2 (February 2016): e0148257,

Gargouri et al., “Self-Selected or Mandated,” 18.

Antelman, “Leveraging the Growth,” 414.

“Library User Guide,” Unpaywall, accessed September 13, 2018,<>

Gargouri et al., “Self-Selected or Mandated,” 20.



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