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Diversifying Readership through open access: A usage analysis for open access books

New Springer Nature white paper analyses geographical diversity and usage of OA books

London | Heidelberg, 10 September 2020 

Open access (OA) books are reaching more countries and have greater usage and higher citation numbers than non-OA books. A new analysis collaboratively produced by Springer Nature and COARD (Collaborative Open Access Research & Development) presents these and other key findings in a new white paper that explores how OA affects the geographical diversity of readers. 

It shows that OA books have substantially more readers in low-income and lower-middle-income countries and that OA also helps to increase attention to scholarship about these countries. The study is to date the largest and most comprehensive of its kind; the underlying dataset is based on 3,934 books published by Springer Nature, including 281 OA books.

Confirming previous research looking at the potential usage benefits of OA, this analysis shows more downloads and more citations for every type of book, in every discipline, in each of the three years of publication (2015, 2016, 2017) included in the sample. The report finds that OA books on average achieve ten times more downloads and 2.4 times more citations than non-OA books. Furthermore, download numbers from the open web are generally around double those from institutional network points. 

Ros Pyne, Director Open Access Books at Springer Nature, said: “The analysis reveals clear benefits for OA books, demonstrating that immediate OA increases and diversifies the readership of scholarly books. We hope the findings of this collaborative project will help encourage greater support for OA books among authors, institutions, funders, and all those involved in scholarly communications.”

About the white paper

The report builds on previous work by Springer Nature in this area, providing a broader and more nuanced picture of the impact, visibility, and strengths of OA books. Previous white papers in this series include The OA Effect (2017), which explored the effects of OA on the downloads and citation of scholarly books. The Future of OA Books (2019) provided a global view of book authors’ attitudes towards OA and explored the factors that influence academics’ decisions about whether to publish their books OA.

About open access books at Springer Nature

Springer Nature publishes OA books and chapters under our Springer, Palgrave Macmillan and Apress imprints. We helped to pioneer open access book publishing, first piloting open access publication for books in 2011. Our open access book portfolio currently includes over 1,000 books spanning all academic disciplines, with more than 100 million chapters downloads worldwide. Follow @SN_OAbooks to keep up-to-date with OA book news.

Further information

Springer Nature open access books and chapters 

About Springer Nature Group

Springer Nature opens the doors to discovery for researchers, educators, clinicians and other professionals. Every day, around the globe, our imprints, books, journals, platforms and technology solutions reach millions of people. For over 175 years our brands and imprints have been a trusted source of knowledge to these communities and today, more than ever, we see it as our responsibility to ensure that fundamental knowledge can be found, verified, understood and used by our communities – enabling them to improve outcomes, make progress, and benefit the generations that follow. 

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Felicitas Behrendt

Communications Manager

Springer Nature 

T +49 (0) 6221 487 9901

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