As per the figures in the Open Access category of the recently released CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019, three Scottish Universities feature in the top 10 worldwide in terms of the percentage of its research publications indexed in the Web of Science that are available Open Access as measured via Unpaywall. This is a remarkable result considering how we rank in other categories covered by the analysis, such as research impact, collaborations (including with industry) and gender.
The number of UK institutions sitting high up in this institutional ranking by rate of openness is also truly outstanding: there are no less than 26 British institutions in the top 30. This is the result of the intensive work by institutional Open Access teams nationwide for the implementation of the Open Access policy designed by the Higher Education Funding Councils. This policy requires the deposit and open availability of the publications in the institutional systems at universities across the country in order for these publications to be eligible for research assessment purposes.
This policy design matches the recommendations made by the EU-funded PASTEUR4OA FP7 project – see Alma Swan’s slides below advocating for exactly the kind of policy that kicked-off in the UK as of Apr 1st, 2016.
It’s worth noting that none of the two Universities highlighted in Alma’s slides as best practice case studies in OA policy design is currently sitting anywhere close to the top of this CWTS ranking. This highlights the value of the network effect, whereby a national-level policy enables a kind of cross-institutional teamworking that surpasses any single-institution policy effort on the basis of the conviction of a specific institutional leader. The EC OA policy is of course another good example for the networking effect of a wide-ranging policy, and the figures for European institutions are nothing short of remarkable – they show where UK Unis would be without the HEFCE policy.
Finally, the CWTS Leiden ranking allows to drill down into the figures for a specific institution to find out how much Green, Gold and Bronze Open Access has contributed to the total score. Looking at the figures for Strathclyde Uni (which happens to be one’s institution, but the percentages are fairly similar across institutions), it’s again clear that Green Open Access – as required by the policy – provides the lion’s share of the aggregate figure.
The ranking is based on outputs published in the period 2014-2017, meaning that it covers just the first couple of years of the HEFCE policy. Any future analysis extending into 2018 is likely to yield even better figures as the implementation gets more successful (and the Open Access Scotland Group enables an ever more effective cross-institutional teamworking).