Access to Freely Available Journal Articles: Gold, Green, and Rogue Open Access across the Disciplines (2016 conference presentation script/summary, published 2017)…

“We randomly selected 300 articles that were indexed in Scopus and published in 2015. A hundred of them are from the arts and humanities, and a hundred of them are from the social sciences, and a hundred are from the life sciences, and all of them, again, randomly selected.”

These 300 appear to have been a random mix of paywall and OA and were then searched for on Google, Google Scholar, Researchgate, and Sci-Hub. The researchers were simply looking for free public copies of the articles, wherever they could be found.

The methodology used is slightly fuzzily explained…

“We just did a title search. We didn’t do anything further than the title search”.

Fuzzy, because a Google “full-title” known-title search “as a phrase” is not the safest way to go about such a test. Due to the way Google Search works, ideally one would want to search on the first 50 characters of the title instead of on the entirety of a long academic article-title.

Also, Scopus is poor at indexing Open Access, only managing 29.18% coverage of the DOAJ Open Access titles even in 2017. And the Scopus spreadsheet, now sortable by OA status, indicates Scopus has very poor coverage of OA arts and humanities titles. So 100 arts and humanities articles from Scopus is not a great starting point, even if suitably randomised. The sample will likely skew heavily toward paywall articles.

Anyway, even with these limitations the results for public full-text free-access were somewhat interesting. From left to right, just for the 100 Arts & Humanities articles: Google Scholar, Google Search, Researchgate, and Sci-Hub (prior to its recent problems)…

Sci-Hub was known to have severe problems accessing things like recent Project MUSE articles, so perhaps glitches like that prevented an even higher result than 86%.