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As mentioned in the text, this was a non-statistically significant trend, so there may be limited worth in speculating on the underlying reasons. If it is real, then the two things you propose (older papers more likely free for non-affiliated academics, and longer...
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I have the data to do this, so if I get time then I could certainly parse the papers by publisher, open access status, or other parameters. Each paper would have to be checked individually, due to some journals now offering different "tracks", so a paper may be...

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