Stagnating Open Science compliance for doctoral theses?

When citing or referring please provide this DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.6714038nnRecently, I gathered data from the Bielefeld Search Engine BASE on the percentage of journal articles, books and doctoral theses published Open Access, licensed under Creative Commons Licenses and under Open License between 2013 to 2017.nnSince dissertations have been published electronically and Open Access for a long time, they have traditionally been a document type that was more Open Science compliant than others. For example, the Open Access repository software OPUS, which is widely used in Germany, was in earlier years used exclusively for the electronic publication of doctoral theses. Unfortunately, this pioneering role could not be held: A look at the data provided by BASE shows that the Open Science penetration among theses published stagnates.  BASE knows three categories of accessibility: Open Access, Unknown, Non Open Access. In the following tables and graphs, figures reported as “Open Access” have been categorised by BASE as Open Access. The following tables show data from BASE as follows:

  • Indexed theses, books and journal articles (2013-2017)
  • Indexed theses, books and journal articles published Open Access (2013-2017)
  • indexed theses, books and journal articles under Creative Commons licenses (2013-2017)
  • indexed theses, books and journal articles, which are published under Open Licenses in the sense of the Open License, i. e. reflect terms of use of the Open Source (2013-2017)

Open Licenses mean licenses that fulfil the requirements of the Open Definition. This applies only to two Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY and CC-BY-SA.

    Doctoral Theses total101,264108,253111,555108,69777,731
    Doctoral Thesesnpublished Open Access43,32251,39750,67150,42736,935
    Doctoral Thesesnunder Creative Commons Licenses9,01110,93011,85012,9359,886
    Doctoral Thesesnunder Open Licenses1,8491,9592,3391,9591,432
    Books total68,25764,98267,13061,23646,187
    Booksnpublished Open Access13,84715,40523,00717,23215,643
    Booksnunder Creative Commons Licenses2,5192,8693,5154,6115,940
    Booksnunder Open Licenses4675338151,8322,890
    Journal Articles total1,768,7911,957,0582,131,6042,005,2681,696,182
    Journal Articlesnpublished Open Access782,801940,5761,175,8901,117,0971,035,434
    Journal Articlesnunder Creative Commons Licenses175,887233,968301,124358,274313,227
    Journal Articlesnunder Open Licenses84,548105,820141,038168,626175,587

    Doctoral Thesesnpercentage: Open Access43%47%45%46%48%
    Doctoral Thesesnpercentage: CC-licensed9%10%11%12%13%
    Doctoral Thesesnpercentage: Openly licensed2%2%2%2%2%
    Booksnpercentage: Open Access20%24%34%28%34%
    Booksnpercentage: CC-licensed4%4%5%8%13%
    Booksnpercentage: Openly licensed1%1%1%3%6%
    Journal Articlesnpercentage: Open Access44%48%55%56%61%
    Journal Articlesnpercentage: CC-licensed10%12%14%18%18%
    Journal Articlesnpercentage: Openly licensed5%5%7%8%10%

    Although doctoral theses already had a high share of Open Access by 2013 (43%), by 2017 it had risen by only 5% (2017: 48%). At the same time, the proportion of books published Open Access rose by 14% (from 20% to 34%) and articles by 17% from 44% (2013) to 61% (2017). The same effect can be seen in the proportion of CC-licensed items: Their share rose by 4% (from 9% to 13%) for doctoral theses, by 9% for books (from 4% to 13%) and 8% for articles (from 10% to 18%) between 2013 and 2017. However, the share of openly licensed items is most pronounced: it did not increase for doctoral theses, but remained at 2% between 2013 and 2017; in the same period it increased by 5% (from 1% to 6%) for books, and by 5% (from 5% to 10%) for articles. Even though this figure is illustrative, they show that although dissertations were published in earlier years more compatible with Open Science than books and articles, their penetration with Open Science stagnated and today they are compared with books and articles less compatible with Open Science.

    The proportion of books available under CC licenses rose sharply compared to the number of doctoral theses licensed under CC licenses and reached the same percentage in 2017.

    As the proportion of doctoral theses available under Open licenses stagnated the percentage of openly licensed books outnumbered theses already in 2016.

    The data to this posting is available as:

    Ulrich Herb (2018). Numbers of Articles, Books and Dissertation theses indexed in BASE and percentages of items published Open Access, under Creative Commons Licenses and under Open Licenses (2013-2017) [Data set]. Zenodo.nOnline: DOI:10.5281/zenodo.1189807

    Copyright note: Icon available under MIT License from

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *