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Published Open Access Papers Set to Increase Soon

The Smithsonian will soon develop procedures for complying with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s directive on public access to federally funded research. That means that most papers authored by Smithsonian staff and affiliates will be made available to the public at no charge, some after an embargo period. There are several methods being developed by other federal agencies to meet this requirement and the Smithsonian has kept abreast of these policies. But aside from the White House mandate, it is clear that Smithsonian authors are increasingly making their scholarship freely available via publishing with an open access (OA) publisher. On average, there are about 350* OA papers published each year by Smithsonian scientists. This represents nearly 15% of research output.

Since 2010, there have been nearly 1700 open access publications added to Smithsonian Research Online. These articles appear in 628 unique journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ, But it is likely that the true number of OA papers is much higher. Many subscription-based journals operate on a model whereby authors pay the OA fee to ensure public access for single articles but the remainder are sold under the traditional subscription-based model. These “hybrid” journals are not included in the DOAJ list.

Taken together, the 1700 publications list 8100+ co-authors (averaging nearly 5 authors per paper). As expected, the open access journal which lists the most Smithsonian authors (by far) is PLoS One. And because of the large amount of biodiversity research and plant/animal classification at the National Museum of Natural History, the second and third most popular are Zookeys and Phytokeys. Many of the others are biological in nature with notable exceptions for Quest (which contains frequent contributions from staff at the National Air & Space Museum) and American Philatelist (a popular vehicle in which National Postal Museum researchers publish).

Smithsonian Research Online Open Access Statistics: 2010-2015


OA journals in which Smithsonian authors most frequently published over the last 5 years Top Smithsonian authors with OA publications and the corresponding number over the last 5 years.
Plos One 251 Chance, Kelly V. 23
Zookeys 101 Erwin, Terry L. 19
Phytokeys 56 Kalko, Elisabeth K. F.§ 19
Ecology and Evolution 28 Launius, Roger D. 19
BMC Evolutionary Biology 26 Ubelaker, Douglas H. 18
The Astronomer’s Telegram 17 Wagner, Warren L. 18
Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 14 Mathis, Wayne N. 17
American Philatelist 12 Liu, X. 16
Scientific Reports 11 Davis, Donald R. 14
AoB Plants 9 Fleischer, Robert C. 13
Florida Entomologist 9 Pope, Nancy 13
Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 9 Robinson, Harold E. 13
Revista de biologia tropical 9
Zootaxa 9


*CORRECTION: It turns out that the number of Smithsonian-authored OA papers may be much higher. Scientists at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, MA contribute frequently to journals published by the American Astronomical Society. AAS journals are not listed in the DOAJ yet all are open access after a one year embargo. Many other journals in this field are OA by nature and of course the ArXiv preprint repository is home to many SAO articles. So it turns out the number of OA articles authored by Smithsonian staff listed above is likely far too low. Thanks to SAO librarian, Christopher Erdmann for pointing this out.



§ Deceased


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