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Citation Advantage of HKUST OA Articles

About 20% of HKUST journal articles are open access. Do these papers get more citations? 

In a previous post, we reported the pattern of Gold OA publishing of HKUST authors in the past 5 years. The Library analyzed the records found in Scopus; we found that, while HKUST has been publishing more journal articles year-by-year, the proportion of OA articles remains at about 20%. We were curious if these OA articles were cited more or less than those behind paywall. It appears that OA articles are cited modestly higher.

Impact of OA Papers

Let us compare OA and non-OA papers from two angles:

1. Average Citation Per Paper

The chart shows the citation count per paper of the two groups: OA papers and Paywalled papers. Except the batch of 2015 publications, in general OA papers have higher citation count per paper. One can say that an average OA paper gets more citations than an average paywalled paper. For example, among the papers published in 2018, an OA paper gets about 3 more citations than a paywalled one.

2. OA Papers in the Top-Cited List

We already found that the OA portion in HKUST journal papers is about 20%. When we look at those highly cited papers, the portion of OA rises slightly to about 25%. This table shows the OA count among papers of highest citations:

  Times Cited OA Papers %
Top 5 1,300+ 1 20%
Top 10 550+ 2 20%
Top 20 320+ 5 25%
Top 50 215+ 12 24%
Top 100 151+ 25 25%
Top 200 100+ 50 25%


OA Papers may have a Slightly Higher Impact

If we take citation count as a measure of impact, we can say that OA papers are at least equally influential as traditional non-OA journal papers. In fact, the data even supports that OA papers have a modestly higher impact.

However, we should be aware of its limitation when we interpret the data. Using Scopus as the data source, our analysis is limited to the journals indexed by this database, which is selective. Furthermore, the database only tags Gold OA papers; it does not capture papers that have OA version through other channels.

If you have any question or suggestion about the data analysis or Open Access, please contact the Library’s Research Support Services.

— By Gabi Wong, Library

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published March 24, 2020
last modified March 11, 2022