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Research Impact

Go Open

What is OA?

Open Access (OA) is about making scholarly publications freely available to everyone.

In today's world, we can access information immediately, from breaking news and celebrity gossip to book reviews and blog posts. The OA movement wants to make scholarly publications available to anyone who has an Internet connection and the ability to search and read the material--not just those who can afford to subscribe to a journal.

How Does OA Increase Impact?

Open Access (OA) can increase the visibility--and therefore the impact--of your research.

Open access works get more citations.

Pie chart showing conclusions of studies of OA citation advantage: 46 found advantage, 7 were inconclusive, 17 found no advantageMany research studies have identified a citation advantage for open access articles, although this varies by discipline. SPARC Europe curates a bibliography of studies documenting the impact of OA on scholarly citations. A 2016 analysis of 70 studies found that 46 show a citation advantage for OA papers, as shown in the figure to the right.

There is also a citation advantage on Wikipedia for OA articles. A recent study found that OA articles are 47% more likely to be cited than non-OA articles.

Open access works receive greater attention on social media and other media channels, leading to a broader societal impact.

When barriers to access--such as paywalls--are removed, works are more likely to have more widespread societal engagement. Articles that require subscriptions to read lead to a more limited societal impact.

Open access works reach a wider audience, representing groups outside of academia.

Research and scholarship available openly do not limit their readership to those with academic affiliations. New audiences include:

  • Citizen scientists
  • Medical patients and their supporting networks
  • Non-government organizations and nonprofit organizations
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Lifelong learners

Open Access opens up opportunities for knowledge to be used in new ways, beyond traditional academic research.


Graphic showing impact of open access: institutions demonstrate achievements, authors build reputations, readers advance knowledge

Pie chart and information CC-BY:  
Tennant JP, Waldner F, Jacques DC et al., 
The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review.
F1000Research 2016, 5:632 


Guide Authors

Paula Carey
General Science, Engineering, & Mathematics Librarian

Mary Foppiani
Astronomy, Biology, & Physics Librarian

Barbara Maratos
Modern Languages, Comparative Literature, & Linguistics Librarian

Kate Silfen
Health Sciences Librarian

Dan Benedetti
Head, Pickering Education Resources Library