Open access a success: More than 50% of the articles published in 2011 are available free of charge.

In August 2013 the European Commission informed about a study it funded on the availability of open access publications.

The global shift towards making research findings available free of charge for readers—so-called 'open access'—was confirmed in this study. The study suggests that open access is reaching the tipping point, with around 50% of scientific papers published in 2011 now available for free. This is about twice the level estimated in previous studies, explained by a refined methodology and a wider definition of open access. The study also estimates that more than 40% of scientific peer reviewed articles published worldwide between 2004 and 2011 are now available online in open access form. 

The study looked at the availability of scholarly publications in 22 fields of knowledge in the European Research Area, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and the United States. In several countries and disciplines more than 50% of papers are now available for free. Free availability of the majority of articles has been reached in the fields of general science and technology, biomedical research, biology and mathematics and statistics. The fields where open access availability is most limited are the social sciences and humanities and applied sciences, engineering and technology.

A recent European Commission Communication (IP/12/790) identified open access as a core means to improve knowledge circulation and thus innovation in Europe. Therefore, open access will be mandatory for all scientific publications produced with funding from Horizon 2020. The Communication recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the Commission in their domestic programmes.

Source: European Commission