The web was built specifically to share research papers amongst scientists. Despite this being the first goal of the modern web, most research is still published behind a paywall. We have recently highlighted famous math papers that reside behind a paywall as well as ten papers that have achieved a near rockstar status in research and the public. Here we systematically look at the top one hundred cited papers of all time and find that \(65\%\) of these papers are not open. Stated another way, the world’s most important research is inaccessible from the majority of the world.
A few facts about the top 100 cited papers:
The weighted average of all the paywalls is: \(\$32.33\), rounding to the nearest cent.
There are \(1,088,779\) citations of the Open Access articles, so, if they cost the same on average as the Paywalled articles and were paid for individually, they would cost a total of: \(\$35,199,108.44\)–that’s \(14\) Bugatti Veyrons, or enough to buy everyone in New York City a Starbucks Tall coffee and chocolate chip cookie. In comparison, the total amount for the paywalled articles, assuming everyone bought the paywalled articles individually, is \(\$54,722,252.80\).
That’s \(23\) Bugatti Veyrons, or enough to buy everyone in New York City a footlong from Subway.
Although \(65\%\) of the most cited papers are paywalled, only \(61\%\) of those paper’s citations are from paywalled journals. Thus the open access articles in this list are, on average, cited more than the paywalled ones.
|Title||Citations||Status||Cost||Cost to Buy Individually|
|Atherosclerosis - an inflammatory disease.||12,119||Paywall||$20.00||$242,380.00|
|Adsorption of gases in multimolecular layers.||12,252||Paywall||$40.00||$490,080.00|
|Homeostasis model assessment: insulin resistance and beta-cell function from fasting plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in man.||12,257||Paywall||$39.95||$489,667.15|
|Continuous cultures of fused cells secreting antibody of predefined specificity.||12,391||Paywall||$32.00||$396,512.00|
|Improved methods for building protein models in electron-density maps and the location of errors in these models.||12,649||Paywall||$40.00||$505,960.00|
|Accurate and simple analytic representation of the electron-gas correlation-energy||12,748||Paywall||$25.00||$318,700.00|
|A low-viscosity epoxy resin embedding medium for electron microscopy.||12,807||Paywall||$39.95||$511,639.65|
|A low-cost high-efficiency solar-cell based on dye-sensitized colloidal TiO2 films.||12,873||Paywall||$32.00||$411,936.00|
|Efficiency of ab initio total energy calculations for metals and semiconductors using a plane-wave basis set.||13,084||Paywall||$39.95||$522,705.80|
|An algorithm for least-squares estimation of nonlinear parameters.||13,258||Paywall||$25.00||$331,450.00|
|Nitric oxide: physiology pathophysiology and pharmacology.||13,267||Paywall||$25.00||$331,675.00|
|Optimization by simulated annealing.||13,293||Paywall||$30.00||$398,790.00|
|Projector augmented-wave method.||13,330||Paywall||$25.00||$333,250.00|
|A new and rapid colorimetric determination of acetylcholinesterase activity.||13,332||Paywall||$39.95||$532,613.40|
|Comparison of simple potential functions for simulating liquid water.||13,774||Paywall||$30.00||$413,220.00|
|From ultrasoft pseudopotentials to the projector augmented-wave method.||14,049||Paywall||$25.00||$351,225.00|
|Improved M13 phage cloning vectors and host strains nucleotide-sequences of the M13mp18 and pUC19 vectors||14,232||Paywall||$35.95||$511,640.40|
|A new look at statistical-model identification.||14,275||Paywall||$33.00||$471,075.00|
|PROCHECK: a program to check the stereochemical quality of protein structures.||14,462||Paywall||$40.00||$578,480.00|
|Gaussian-basis sets for use in correlated molecular calculations. 1. The atoms boron through neon and hydrogen.||14,617||Paywall||$30.00||$438,510.00|
|Crystallography & NMR system: a new software suite for macromolecular structure determinatio,n.||14,898||Paywall||$40.00||$595,920.00|
|The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data.||14,903||Paywall||$14.00||$208,642.00|
|Tissue sulfhydryl groups.||15,019||Paywall||$24.95||$374,724.05|
|Multiple range and multiple F tests.||15,047||Paywall||$14.00||$210,266.00|
|Primer-directed enzymatic amplification of DNA with a thermostable DNA polymerase.||15,160||Paywall||$30.00||$454,800.00|
|The assessment and analysis of handedness: the Edinburgh inventory.||15,517||Paywall||$39.95||$619,904.15|
|Measurement of protein using bicinchoninic acid.||15,802||Paywall||$35.95||$568,081.90|
|Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing.|