Metric Mirages: Vanishing Article stats and Open Access

I’ve been evaluating the success of my open access articles this week, and looked up my collaborative article published by Brain in 2015:

Thorpe, Deborah E., and Jane E. Alty. “What type of tremor did the medieval ‘Tremulous Hand of Worcester’have?.” Brain (2015), available here.

When I last checked, this article had amassed over 5,000 page views and an impressive number of PDF downloads. I’d been parading it as an example of the value of open access publishing, helping me to reach record numbers of readers.

So, imagine my consternation when I clicked into the newly-designed metrics page and saw this:


The metrics measurements have been reset at 1st December 2016, and it is impossible to view the number of readers and downloaders prior to this date. As an academic who publishes open access, and an advocate of this as a way of democratising research, this is deeply concerning. Without these statistics, it is impossible to gauge the impact of the research – only the page’s Altmetrics survive as a shadow of the reach that I know that the article has had.

I’ve noted similar trends in other journals that have had a recent redesign. I’ve recently published in Cogent Arts and Humanities, an 100% open access journal. Yet, when I looked for the metrics for my article on children’s drawings in medieval books, I noticed that their article stats have been completely removed from the article pages, in favour of a streamlined design. Again, only the Altmetrics survive, which are useful but should be supplementary to the main article metrics.

This is a ‘metrics mirage’ that is damaging to open access publishing, and frustrating to researchers. Bring back the stats!

One comment

  1. Saša Marcan · · Reply

    The usage metrics reset likely has to do with OUP’s recent migration to a new platform (see: If it’s any help, had archived a snapshot of the metrics page for that article on 2016-04-25 so you can at least partially reconstruct the numbers:

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