The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It

Authors : Lisa Matthias, Najko Jahn, Mikael Laakso

As Open access (OA) is often perceived as the end goal of scholarly publishing, much research has focused on flipping subscription journals to an OA model. Focusing on what can happen after the presumed finish line, this study identifies journals that have converted from OA to a subscription model, and places these “reverse flips” within the greater context of scholarly publishing.

In particular, we examine specific journal descriptors, such as access mode, publisher, subject area, society affiliation, article volume, and citation metrics, to deepen our understanding of reverse flips.

Our results show that at least 152 actively publishing journals have reverse-flipped since 2005, suggesting that this phenomenon does not constitute merely a few marginal outliers, but instead a common pattern within scholarly publishing.

Notably, we found that 62% of reverse flips (N = 95) had not been born-OA journals, but had been founded as subscription journals, and hence have experienced a three-stage transformation from closed to open to closed.

We argue that reverse flips present a unique perspective on OA, and that further research would greatly benefit from enhanced data and tools for identifying such cases.

URL : The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It 


Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing

Author : Aamir Raoof Memon

Since the 1990s, scholarly publishing has been transformed from subscription print-based paradigm to an open access and digital publishing model, but this transformation has been accompanied by unethical and predatory publishing practices.

‘Pay-to-publish’ predatory journals abuse the open-access publishing model, and their main intention is to make money out of authors for their editor–owners. The defining characteristic of predatory journals is the lack of a proper peer review process, despite their claims to the contrary.

The spectrum of victims of predatory journals varies widely and includes inexperienced, early-career and naive researchers from both developing and high- to upper middle-income countries, together with experienced researchers.

To circumvent this, several black and whitelists have been created. Beall’s list of potential or probable predatory journals remained the go-to list until its sudden closure.

Later, similar lists such as the Stop Predatory Journals website (, and institutional lists such as those published by the University Grants Commission (UGC) India, and several other commercial bodies and associations appeared; however, they have been criticized for several reasons, including their poor methodology and lack of transparency.

The world of scholarly publishing is not purely black and white, and there are always some grey areas; therefore, we cannot rely on any such listings.

URL : Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing


The impact of the open-access status on journal indices: a review of medical journals

Authors : Saif Aldeen AlRyalat, Mohammad Saleh, Mohammad Alaqraa, Alaa Alfukaha, Yara Alkayed, Maryann Abaza, Hadeel Abu Saa, Mohamed Alshamiry


Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the number of open access (OA) journals in almost all disciplines. This increase in OA journals was accompanied an increase in funding to support such movements.

Medical fields are among the highest funded fields, which further promoted its journals to move toward OA publishing. Here, we aim to compare OA and non-OA journals in terms of citation metrics and other indices.


We collected data on the included journals from Scopus Source List on 1st November 2018.  We filtered the list for medical journals only. For each journal, we extracted data regarding citation metrics, scholarly output, and wither the journal is OA or non-OA.


On the 2017 Scopus list of journals, there was 5835 medical journals. Upon analyzing the difference between medical OA and non-OA journals, we found that OA journals had a significantly higher CiteScore (p< 0.001), percent cited (p< 0.001), and source normalized impact per paper (SNIP) (p< 0.001), whereas non-OA journals had higher scholarly output (p< 0.001).

Among the five largest journal publishers, Springer Nature published the highest frequency of OA articles (31.5%), while Wiley-Blackwell had the lowest frequency among its medical journals (4.4%).


Among medical journals, although non-OA journals still have higher output in terms of articles per year, OA journals have higher citation metrics.

URL : The impact of the open-access status on journal indices: a review of medical journals

Production and uptake of Open Access publications involving the private sector: the case of big pharma

Authors : Afredo Yegros-Yegros, Thed van Leeuwen

Over the last years Open Access has been ranked very high on science policy agenda’s both internationally as well as nationally. This resulted in many national mandates and international guidelines on OA publishing of scientific results.

One of the reasons OA has been pushed so strongly by science policy is found in the argument that what is financed publicly, should be publicly available. This argument, also known as the ‘tax payers argument’ is used to support and legitimize the push for open accessibility, not only of scientific publications, but also of the underlying research data, in order to guarantee the nonacademic sector, with lower degrees of accessibility to otherwise ‘behind-the-paywall’ information, access to outcomes of scientific research in the public sector.

In this study we will focus on the developments in the OA publishing in one particular institutional sector, the private sector. Business enterprises represent the main sector in terms of R&D investments.

According to Eurostat, in the year 2016 this sector represented 65% of the total R&D expenditures within the EU28. While objectives and incentives in the private sector might not always been aligned with the disclosure of research results in the open scientific literature, there is no doubt that this is the main actor when it comes to R&D performance.

Within the business sector, we will focus our study in the pharmaceutical sector, by selecting a number of large pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies represent an interesting case of study, given that is it one of the most R&D intensive industries, while it si also known for its shift in R&D orientation, from an in-house focus in the development of R&D towards a model much more open and collaborative, with more interactions with academic partners and other companies.

Despite the importance of industrial R&D, until now it remains relatively understudied how private sector institutions which are active in R&D have embraced the OA movement, hence it remains relatively unknown how the private sector adapts to and can benefit from the new paradigm of open scholarship.

Our objective is to shed more light on the extent to which big pharma both has been publishing in OA and also has been benefiting from OA publications to build their own research.

URL : Production and uptake of Open Access publications involving the private sector: the case of big pharma


Is open access affordable? Why current models do not work and why we need internet‐era transformation of scholarly communications

Author : Toby Green

Progress to open access (OA) has stalled, with perhaps 20% of new papers ‘born‐free’, and half of all versions of record pay‐walled; why? In this paper, I review the last 12 months: librarians showing muscle in negotiations, publishers’ Read and Publish deals, and funders determined to force change with initiatives like Plan S. I conclude that these efforts will not work.

For example, flipping to supply‐side business models, such as article processing charges, simply flips the pay‐wall to a ‘play‐wall’ to the disadvantage of authors without financial support.

I argue that the focus on OA makes us miss the bigger problem: today’s scholarly communications is unaffordable with today’s budgets. OA is not the problem, the publishing process is the problem.

To solve it, I propose using the principles of digital transformation to reinvent publishing as a two‐step process where articles are published first as preprints, and then, journal editors invite authors to submit only papers that ‘succeed’ to peer review.

This would reduce costs significantly, opening a sustainable pathway for scholarly publishing and OA. The catalyst for this change is for the reputation economy to accept preprints as it does articles in minor journals today.


Merits and Limits: Applying open data to monitor open access publications in bibliometric databases

Authors : Aliakbar Akbaritabar, Stephan Stahlschmidt

Identifying and monitoring Open Access (OA) publications might seem a trivial task while practical efforts prove otherwise. Contradictory information arise often depending on metadata employed.

We strive to assign OA status to publications in Web of Science (WOS) and Scopus while complementing it with different sources of OA information to resolve contradicting cases.

We linked publications from WOS and Scopus via DOIs and ISSNs to Unpaywall, Crossref, DOAJ and ROAD. Only about 50% of articles and reviews from WOS and Scopus could be matched via a DOI to Unpaywall.

Matching with Crossref brought 56 distinct licences, which define in many cases the legally binding access status of publications. But only 44% of publications hold only a single licence on Crossref, while more than 50% have no licence information submitted to Crossref.

Contrasting OA information from Crossref licences with Unpaywall we found contradictory cases overall amounting to more than 25%, which might be partially explained by (ex-)including green OA.

A further manual check found about 17% of OA publications that are not accessible and 15% non-OA publications that are accessible through publishers’ websites. These preliminary results suggest that identification of OA state of publications denotes a difficult and currently unfulfilled task.


Few Open Access Journals are Plan S Compliant

Authors : Jan Erik Frantsvåg, Tormod Eismann Strømme

Much of the debate on Plan S seems to concentrate on how to make toll access journals open access, taking for granted that existing open access journals are Plan S compliant.

We suspected this was not so, and set out to explore this using DOAJ’s journal metadata. We conclude that an overwhelmingly large majority of open access journals are not Plan S compliant, and that it is small HSS publishers not charging APCs that are least compliant and will face major challenges with becoming compliant.

Plan S need to give special considerations to smaller publishers and/or non-APC-based journals.

URL : Few Open Access Journals are Plan S Compliant

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