Is there any research/study/survey that tried to quantify the percentage of research papers that have been digitalized?

I understand that the notion of "research papers" may need to be defined in such a study, as well as other boundaries (e.g., date range).

  • Could you please clarify what you mean by digitalized? Are you looking for the percentage of papers that are now published online and not print-only? Are you looking for old papers that have been published print-only in the past and are now step-by-step digitalized? Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 21:08
  • @FuzzyLeapfrog I meant stored in some electronic device, e.g. hard drives. I have in mind old papers that have been published print-only in the past and are now step-by-step digitalized. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 21:11
  • 2
    Even so I'm a little bit familiar with this topic, I couldn't find an overall percentage or at least the amount of digitized papers. But at least I can give you the denominator, i.e. the estimated number of all existing scientific articles: > 50 million in 2010 (source). If you find the numerator, please let me know. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 22:09
  • Do you mean, in English, or all languages?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 21:38
  • @einpoklum I'm interested in both Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Not an expert, but I would argue that this would be neigh impossible to determine given the criteria:

  • Definition of 'research paper'. As you stated, this needs to be defined, would this only include peer-reviewed? Published in a reputable publication medium?
  • Definition of Digitization. Would microprint count? How about magnetic tape? Without a means of know what is and is not digitized, an accurate count would be impossible.
  • Knowing the upper limit of all knowledge, known-knowns (such as Google's Index of papers) Known-Unknowns (such as closed-circulation repositories), Unknown-Knowns (some repository that exists but the researcher doesn't know about), and unknown-unknowns (perhaps a hidden server in a soviet bunker from the 80's).

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