Open Access in action. Part 3: Counting on open access

Open Access in action Part 3: Counting on open access

Counting on open access

It is to be expected that articles deposited in RePub in open access, are found more easily, downloaded more frequently, and maybe even read and cited more often than articles that can only be consulted by subscribers.

But are they?

It is never trivial to contextualize download figures and citation scores. Nevertheless, even when incomplete, some figures are already interesting. Ninety of dr Van Lieshout’s 107 articles in RePub are available in open access, which is in conformity with the percentage (85%) for the whole Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery . Two of those articles were downloaded 1,614 and 1,171 times respectively in the past two years, an average of 2,2 and 1,6 each day. On average some 20 visitors have been downloading 10 to 15 of her articles every day.


Another graph, to provide some context inside RePub: the 201 articles of the Department of Trauma Surgery’s collection add up to less than 0,9% of the total of 23,468 medical articles in RePub, but the 15,274 downloads from this collection account for 4,63 % of the sum total of downloads of Erasmus MC’s articles.

But even though these numbers indicate that the Green Road open access approach of the Trauma Unit is very successful, that is not the only reason for including these figures here.

In the world of distributed information no single website, whether it is ScopusGoogle ScholarORCID or RePub, can offer the whole story. No single source, open access or not, can provide all relevant data, numbers, metadata and full texts. It is therefore crucial for an institutional repository to have a clear view of its own role among the networked web resources.

Important services befitting a repository like RePub are:

  • to supply as many full texts as possible within the limits of the copyright agreements between researchers and publishers;
  • to optimize the findability of the researchers on staff at the EUR;
  • to provide information about the institutional, national and international networks of collaborating colleagues.  

The next screenshot demonstrates the efficiency of RePub’s strategy towards Google: a few words from the title of an article, general enough to generate almost 2,2 million hits, retrieves the link to the open access full text in RePub immediately below the hits from the PubMed database.

The final screenshot of this section is taken from the profile page of dr Tim Schepers, who is identified in Research Gate as the researcher who most frequently co-authored dr Van Lieshout’s articles. In RePub’s graph his name appears after that of Van Lieshout and Peter Patka as the (co-)author of 41 articles, downloaded almost 7,000 times in the past two years. 

Above statistical evidence show the crucial role of an institutional repository. It organizes and visualizes the researchers work in the whole of networked web resources.