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Changes to Scopus Open Access (OA) document tagging

on Thu, 03/28/2024 - 14:46

In December 2020, Scopus introduced Open Access (OA) filters, providing greater clarity on the type of OA options for a given search results list. With this feature Scopus users could see OA Gold, Hybrid-Gold, Bronze or Green status per document. The Scopus advanced search page was also updated to allow users to build custom queries to include these OA statuses. If users have a need to split out “Green Open Access” into “Green accepted” or “Green final” they can do so on the Advanced search page and via the Scopus APIs.  Additional OA functionality was added to Scopus in January 2022 with full-text access links to OA articles, when available.   

What is changing with Scopus OA tagging? 

Our data source since the introduction of Scopus OA functionality has been Unpaywall, a database run by OurResearch (a non-profit organization) which harvests OA content from over 50,000 publishers and repositories. Our initial OA classification definitions were conceptually similar to the ones used by Unpaywall. However, our implementation differed slightly due to the application of some additional, more strict rules for Scopus.  

Starting April 2024, we will change the Scopus OA tagging policy to fully align with the Unpaywall definitions.  This policy will also affect Scopus and other databases using article level OA tags including SciVal and Compendex.  The following table outlines Elsevier OA labels which will be used for existing OA content and OA content moving forward.    

How will aligning the Scopus OA policy with Unpaywall affect existing documents? 

This change will result in changes to roughly 2 million OA tags in Scopus.  This represents roughly 8.4% of the 24 million+ OA items currently in Scopus.  The change will result in documents shifting their classification status either from bronze to hybrid or gold, or from hybrid to gold. The change will not cause items to lose OA status, or for non-OA items to become OA.  It also only affects the classification of a subset of OA items. 

Where can I use the OA filters in Scopus? 

If you are not familiar with using OA filters in Scopus, here are steps to apply OA filters in a basic search window. 

  • When performing a Scopus search, search filters appear to the left of the screen. Click on the arrow icon to the right of Open Access to see a list OA classifications  

  • Check off boxes next to the OA document classification(s) (All open access, Green, Gold, Bronze and Hybrid gold) you want to exclude from or include in your search. (Your selections will be highlighted in orange) 

  • Click on the Exclude or Limit to buttons based on your search needs.  The OA filter will be applied, and your selection will be graphically shown in the OA filter 

How can I access OA documents? 

Depending on the OA document type, Scopus will may provide links to access full article text.  For example, with the example Gold OA document below users can: 

  • Click on the View PDF article  
  • Click on the arrow icon to the right of Full text options and choose from a list of available document sources 


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