Posted 10/27/2021  |  Back

The number of Open Access (OA) publications has been steadily increasing since the start of the new millennium. In the year 2000, OA journals made up 4.3% of the academic journals published. This proportion increased to 6.4% in 2010 and 15.5% in 2019. Many of the early OA publishing initiatives, including the Budapest Open Access Initiative statement (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003), The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge (2003), and the Lisbon Treaty (2007), have been based in the United States and Western Europe. However, when examining the publishing trends by geographic region, Latin America and Africa publish the highest proportion of their academic journals as OA publications, followed by the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Western Europe and North America publisher the smallest proportions of their academic journals as OA publications (Demeter et al., 2021).

This trend does have its nuances. While Latin America and Africa offer the greatest proportion of their publications through OA, they also are the geographic regions producing the fewest academic journals. On the other hand, North America and Western Europe have the greatest number of academic publications. When the association between number of published journals and proportion of open access journals is calculated by geographic region, a correlation emerges: in regions with fewer publications, as the number of publications increases, the proportion of OA publications decreases. However, in Western Europe and North America, which together publish approximately 80% of academic journals, there is no association between the number of journals published and proportion of OA publications (Demeter et al., 2021). These associations or lack thereof may have impacts on future growth of OA internationally, particularly as publishing industries develop in non-Western countries.

There is also international diversity in terms of which versions of OA universities are adopting. The two primary models of OA are Green (or “repository-mediated,” where the published research is free to read via an OA repository) and Gold (or “publisher-mediated,” where the published research is published in a journal that is free to read via the publisher). European universities have a strong tendency towards repository-mediated OA, potentially driven by an open access mandate under the Research Excellence Framework. On the other hand, Latin American and African universities perform highly when it comes to publishing in publisher-mediated OA resources. Universities in Asia tend to participate in both Green and Gold OA, while universities in North America and Oceania lag behind other geographic areas in both categories (Huang et al., 2020).  

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this quick look into international OA trends! If you’re interesting in finding out more, feel free to reach out to the Librarians to find resources!


Demeter, M., Jele, A., and Major, J. B. (2021). “The international development of open access publishing: A comparative empirical analysis over seven world regions and nine academic disciplines.” Publishing research quarterly, 37(3): 364–83.

Huang, C., Neylon, C., Hosking, R. Montgomery, L., Wilson, K. S., Ozaygen, A., and Brookes-Kenworthy, C. (2020). “Evaluating the impact of open access policies on research institutions” eds. Deathridge, J., Rodgers, P., and Kramer, B.. eLife, 9:e57067.