Open Impact Reporting: Reviewing 2020Q1 Country Interactions for Open Access Books of Knowledge Unlatched

This post presents the recent usage reports of Knowledge Unlatched (KU) which concentrate on interactions with KU content, e.g., books and chapters, during the first quarter of the year 2020, while tentatively indicating early country-level effects of the COVID-19 crisis. 

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As new usage reports for Knowledge Unlatched (KU) have been published again, this overview takes a closer look at the KU-related content interactions* during the first quarter of this year, 2020.** We are, namely, curious to see if we see any early COVID-19 effects on a country level, and, more generally, audiences from which countries are making use of KU books.

In absolute terms, the total interactions by country are highlighted below (the top-25). At KU, we are excited to see that we are reaching a diverse group of countries. However, the main volume of interactions is clearly stemming from the USA, United Kingdom (UK) and Germany. This is unsurprising, given the fact that the funding also comes from these countries and we expect the counterparts and stakeholders of KU to ensure the Open Access (OA) books are indexed in library systems.

At the same time, when looking at the growth in 2020Q1 compared to 2019Q1, we are seeing a different trend. It makes sense that countries with a smaller base (e.g., Singapore, Poland and Mexico) are showing relatively high growth numbers. We would have expected in light of COVID-19 that China would also play a more prominent role in the graph below. However, while still growing, the rate is much lower than one might expect. It is therefore difficult to say whether or not there is any early effect due to COVID-19, which is something we will revisit again in later reporting periods. Overall, we do see strong growth across different parts of the world — and this is encouraging for us to observe both for KU as well as for our partners. 

When normalizing for the number of people living in the countries, the ranking, naturally, changes. While it is obvious that most English language and research-heavy countries are leading the table (KU books are mostly English), a few countries are standing out in terms of the number of interactions per capita.  Ireland jumps to the second place, while the UK takes over the first place from the USA. Moreover, the Czech Republic and Israel are also climbing up the ranks significantly. The biggest jump is made by Singapore, which is perhaps not a big surprise as a very small country in terms of inhabitants, jumping from place 25 to place 7 when correcting for the number of people. 


It is clear that English speaking countries are dominating the usage statistics for KU OA books. Whereas no clear early effect related to COVID-19 in China has been found, this report shows strong growth for many countries in terms of the number of interactions. Certainly, there is more work to be done to reach more countries, but we are moving in the right direction. Additional in-depth analyses, carried out over the course of up-coming months, are to be published on this blog to reflect the impact of Open Access.

Written by Max Mosterd

*: Interactions definition:

**: We focus on 2020Q1 reporting as there is a change at OAPEN which omits the inclusion for April-June 2020 today (and is a significant source next to JSTOR, MUSE, and ORL).

Featured Image Credits: Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay.

Max Mosterd

Head of Operations & Analytics, Knowledge Unlatched