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Open access effect on uncitedness: a large-scale study controlling by discipline, source type and visibility


There are many factors that affect the probability of being uncited during the first years after publication. In this study, we analyze three of these factors for journals, conference proceedings and book series: the field (in 316 subject categories of the Scopus database), the access modality (open access vs. paywalled), and the visibility of the source (through the percentile of the average impact in the subject category). We quantify the effect of these factors on the probability of being uncited. This probability is measured through the percentage of uncited documents in the serial sources of the Scopus database at about two years after publication. As a main result, we do not find any strong correlation between open access and uncitedness. Within the group of most cited journals (Q1 and top 10%), open access journals generally have somewhat lower uncited rates. However, in the intermediate quartiles (Q2 and Q3) almost no differences are observed, while for Q4 the uncited rate is again somewhat lower in the case of the OA group. This is important because it provides new evidence in the debate about open access citation advantage.

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Correspondence to Pablo Dorta-González.


Appendix A

Mean uncited rate for OA and paywalled journals by subject area and category.

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Appendix B

Scatter plot for OA journals in four subject categories (there are no OA conference proceedings in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and only two OA book series in History).

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Scatter plot between uncited rate and percentile for OA journals in four subject categories

Fig. 12
figure 12

Scatter plot between uncited rate and CiteScore for OA journals in four subject categories

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Dorta-González, P., Suárez-Vega, R. & Dorta-González, M.I. Open access effect on uncitedness: a large-scale study controlling by discipline, source type and visibility. Scientometrics 124, 2619–2644 (2020).

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  • Uncitedness ratio
  • Uncited rate
  • Open access
  • Differences by field
  • CiteScore