Project deliverable Open Access

ON-MERRIT D4.3 Quantifying the influence of Open Access on innovation and patents

Jahn, Najko; Klebel, Thomas; Pride, David; Ross-Hellauer, Tony

Open Science policies aim at improving the discovery, access and re-use of research not only within the scientific community, but also within broader society, for instance, to promote technology. Yet, the extent to which openly available scientific work impacts technological inventions remains largely unknown.
Building on work carried out in D4.1 and D4.2, we combine publicly available data sources about patents and scholarly publications to explore uptake of Open Access to scientific literature cited in patents. In doing so, we expand existing patent citation analysis methodologies in order to provide evidence about the use of Open Access resources in innovation.

Our key observations are:

  • Investigating over 22 million patent families indexed in Google Patents, we found that around one third were supported by at least one citation to non-patent literature. However, the number of references per patent family can vary considerably across technological sector and inventor countries, which is in accordance with previous research.
  • Focusing on scientific articles cited in patents, we found an Open Access citation advantage, suggesting that openly available research articles are more likely cited in patents than closed access work. In line with the general trend, Open Access uptake grew over the years, with nearly half of cited articles published between 2008 and 2020 being openly available. In line with research on both technology-science linkage and Open Access, we found considerable country and subject specific variations. Particularly patents representing inventions from the US and the UK cited disproportionally more often Open Access work.
  • Expanding on D4.2 we observed the use of preprints, not only from the well-established arXiv in the Physical and Material Sciences including Engineering, but also in the Biological and Life Sciences, where preprints have become a widely used Open Science practice to accelerate communication about COVID research.

In line with previous research on the value of patent citation analysis, it is challenging to link our results to specific science policies and incentives. Although more and more scientific resources become openly available, it must be assumed that the discovery of relevant resources to innovation can still be resource-intensive for inventors and examiners alike. We furthermore recommend that follow-up research and monitoring exercise take advantage of a growing evidence base associated with patent citations and Open Science evidence.

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