Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 31 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a568

Rapid Response:

Results of Open Access RTC Robust at 3 Years

Critics of our study have expressed skepticism that we were too eager to report our findings and should have waited between 2 and 3 years.

All of the articles in our study have now aged 3-years and we report that our initial findings were robust: articles receiving the open access treatment received more article downloads but no more citations [1].

Article Downloads
During the first year of publication, open access articles received more than double the number of full-text downloads (119%, 95% C.I. 100% - 140%) and 61% more PDF downloads (95% C.I. 48% - 74%) from a third more unique visitors (32%, 95% C.I. 24% - 41%). Abstract views were reduced by nearly a third (-29%, 95% C.I. -34% - -24%) signaling a reader preference for the full article when available.

Article Citations
Thirty-six months after publication, open access treatment articles were cited no more frequently than articles in the control group. Open access articles received, on average, 10.6 citations (95% C.I. 9.2 -12.0) compared to 10.7 (95% C.I. 9.6 - 11.8) for the control group. No significant citation differences were detected at 12, 18, 24 and 30 months after publication.

1. Davis, P. M. 2010. Does Open Access Lead to Increased Readership and Citations? A Randomized Controlled Trial of Articles Published in APS Journals. The Physiologist 53: 197-201.

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 November 2010
Philip M Davis
Postdoctoral Associate
Dept. of Communication, Cornell University