Editors of sociological Open Access journals seem hesitant to adopt Open Knowledge principles

And again a by-product of my dissertation thesis: I compared the numbers and shares of journals from all disciplines using Creative Commons (CC) licenses with the numbers and shares of Open Access journals from Sociology using CC licenses. The date of data collection was June 8, 2014, the data source was the Directory of Open Access Journals DOAJ, it listed 9.834 journals at the date mentioned. The results indicate that editors of sociological Open Access journals are more hesitant than editors of non-sociological Open Access journals to adopt Open Knowledge principles.


All Journals

License Number Percentage
no CC license 6.019 61,21%
by 2.023 20,57%
by-nc 682 6,94%
by-nc-nd 751 7,64%
by-nc-sa 261 2,65%
by-nd 44 0,45%
by-sa 51 0,52%
by-nc-sa 3 0,03%


The total number of journals using a CC license was 3.815 (38,79% of all journals). 2.074 journals (21,09% of all journals, 54,36% of the journals using any of the CC licences) used a CC-by or CC-by-SA license and thus were compatible with the Open Definition OD. The OD tries to transfer the principles of open source software on any sort of knowledge, it defines Open Knowledge.

At the date of data collection the DOAJ listed 109 sociological Open Access journals. These used at a rate of 32,11% (35 journals) CC licenses, a value that is more or less comparable to the value among all DOAJ-journals. But only 8 journals (7,34%) from this subset used a license that is compatible with the OD – a rate that is much lower than the OD compliance rate of all journals. Sociological journals however seem to prefer CC licenses with non commercial (nc) clauses that prohibit commercial exploitation more (20,19%) than all journals (10,29%). Thus it seems that editors of sociological Open Access journals hesitate much more than their colleagues from other disciplines to adopt Open Knowledge licenses.

Sociology Journals

License Number Percentage
no CC license 74 67,89%
by 8 7,34%
by-nc 13 11,93%
by-nc-nd 9 8,26%
by-nc-sa 4 3,67%
by-nd 1 0,92%
by-sa 0 0%
by-nc-sa 0 0%


Data, tables, R-code and information on data collection are available via Zenodo. Please cite this data and information as:

Herb, U. (2014). Numbers and shares of Open Access Journals from all disciplines and from the discipline Sociology using Creative Commons Licenses as listed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (2014-06-08). Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.10577


Graduate sociologist, information scientist (PhD degree), working for the Saarland University and State Library (Germany), owner of the consulting agency scinoptica, journalist. ORCID: 0000-0002-3500-3119

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