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Letters Open access citations

Still robust after three years

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 30 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6854
  1. Philip M Davis, postdoctoral associate1
  1. 1Department of Communication, Cornell University, New York, USA
  1. pmd8{at}

Critics of our randomised controlled study of open access publishing, article downloads, and citations said that we were too eager to report our findings and should have waited two to three years.1 Now, after three years, we report that our initial findings were robust: articles receiving the open access treatment received more article downloads but no more citations.2

During the first year of publication, open access articles received more than double the number of full text downloads (119%, 95% confidence interval 100% to 140%) and 61% more PDF downloads (48% to 74%) from a third more unique visitors (32%, 24% to 41%). Abstract views were reduced by nearly a third (−29%, −34% to −24%), indicating that readers preferred to read the full article when available.

Thirty six months after publication, open access articles were cited no more frequently than articles in the control group. Open access articles received, on average, 10.6 citations (9.2 to 12.0) compared with 10.7 (9.6 to 11.8) for the control group. No significant citation differences were detected at 12, 18, 24, and 30 months after publication.


Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6854


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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