Scholarly journal publishing in transition: from restricted to open access

Author : Bo-Christer Björk

While the business models used in most segments of the media industry have been profoundly changed by the Internet surprisingly little has been changed in the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals.

Electronic delivery has become the norm, but the same publishers as before are dominating the market, selling content to subscribers. This article asks the question why Open Access (OA) to the output of mainly publicly funded research hasn’t yet become the mainstream business model.

OA implies a reversal of business logic from readers paying for content to authors paying fro dissemination via universa free access. The current situation is analyzed using Porter’s five forces model.

The analysis demonstrates a lack of competitive pressure in this industry, leading to so high profit levels of the leading publishers that they have yet to feel a strong need to change the way they operate.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.12646

How Frequently are Articles in Predatory Open Access Journals Cited

Authors : Bo-Christer Björk, Sari Kanto-Karvonen, J. Tuomas Harviainen

Predatory journals are Open Access journals of highly questionable scientific quality. Such journals pretend to use peer review for quality assurance, and spam academics with requests for submissions, in order to collect author payments.

In recent years predatory journals have received a lot of negative media. While much has been said about the harm that such journals cause to academic publishing in general, an overlooked aspect is how much articles in such journals are actually read and in particular cited, that is if they have any significant impact on the research in their fields.

Other studies have already demonstrated that only some of the articles in predatory journals contain faulty and directly harmful results, while a lot of the articles present mediocre and poorly reported studies.

We studied citation statistics over a five-year period in Google Scholar for 250 random articles published in such journals in 2014, and found an average of 2,6 citations per article and that 60 % of the articles had no citations at all.

For comparison a random sample of articles published in the approximately 25,000 peer reviewed journals included in the Scopus index had an average of 18,1 citations in the same period with only 9 % receiving no citations. We conclude that articles published in predatory journals have little scientific impact.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.10228

Adoption of the open access business model in scientific journal publishing – A cross-disciplinary study

Authors : Bo-Christer Björk, Timo Korkeamäki

Scientific journal publishers have over the past twenty-five years rapidly converted to predominantly electronic dissemination, but the reader-pays business model continues to dominate the market.

Open Access (OA) publishing, where the articles are freely readable on the net, has slowly increased its market share to near 20%, but has failed to fulfill the visions of rapid proliferation predicted by many early proponents.

The growth of OA has also been very uneven across fields of science. We report market shares of open access in eighteen Scopus-indexed disciplines ranging from 27% (agriculture) to 7% (business).

The differences become far more pronounced for journals published in the four countries, which dominate commercial scholarly publishing (US, UK, Germany and the Netherlands). We present contrasting developments within six academic disciplines.

Availability of funding to pay publication charges, pressure from research funding agencies, and the diversity of discipline-specific research communication cultures arise as potential explanations for the observed differences.

URL : https://haris.hanken.fi/portal/files/11186226/Bjo_rk_Korkeama_ki_2020_a_Green_version.pdf

Attitudes of North American Academics toward Open Access Scholarly Journals

Authors : Elizabeth D. Dalton, Carol Tenopir, Bo-Christer Björk

In this study, the authors examine attitudes of researchers toward open access (OA) scholarly journals.

Using two-step cluster analysis to explore survey data from faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers at large North American research institutions, two different cluster types emerge: Those with a positive attitude toward OA and a desire to reach the nonscholarly audience groups who would most benefit from OA (“pro-OA”), and those with a more negative, skeptical attitude and less interest in reaching nonscholarly readers (“non-OA”).

The article explores these cluster identities in terms of position type, subject discipline, and productivity, as well as implications for policy and practice.

URL : https://preprint.press.jhu.edu/portal/sites/ajm/files/20.1dalton.pdf

Acceptance rates of scholarly peer-reviewed journals: A literature survey

Author : Bo-Christer Bjórk

The acceptance rate of scholarly journals is an important selection criterion for authors choosing where to submit their manuscripts. Unfortunately, information about the acceptance (or rejection rates) of individual journals is seldom available.

This article surveys available systematic information and studies of acceptance rates. The overall global average is around 35-40%. There are significant differences between fields of science, with biomedicine having higher acceptance rates compared to for instance the social sciences.

Open access journals usually have higher acceptance rates than subscription journals, and this is particularly true for so-called OA mega-journals, which have peer review criteria focusing on sound science only.

URL : https://recyt.fecyt.es/index.php/EPI/article/view/epi.2019.jul.07

Scholarly journals in building and civil engineering – the big picture and current impact of open access

Author : Bo-Christer Björk

The publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals has in the past 20 years moved from print to primarily digital publishing, but the subscription-based revenue model is still dominant.

This means that the additional benefits of open access to all scholarly articles still remains a vision, despite some progress. A selection of 72 leading journals in building & construction was studied, in order to determine the current status in this subfield of engineering. Of the approximately 9,500 articles published yearly in these, only some 5,6 % are in the 11 full OA journals included, and a couple of percentage more are paid OA articles in hybrid journals.

In most of the OA journals publishing is free for the authors. In terms of OA maturity, the field lags far behind the situation across all sciences, where at least 15 % of articles are in full OA journals.

If OA is to become more important in our field, the growth is likely to come from major publishers starting new journals funded by author payments (APCs) or converting existing hybrid journals once they have reached a critical share of paid OA articles.

URL : Scholarly journals in building and civil engineering – the big picture and current impact of open access

Alternative location : https://itcon.org/paper/2018/19

Evolution of the scholarly mega-journal, 2006–2017

 Author : Bo-Christer Björk

Mega-journals are a new kind of scholarly journal made possible by electronic publishing. They are open access (OA) and funded by charges, which authors pay for the publishing services. What distinguishes mega-journals from other OA journals is, in particular, a peer review focusing only on scientific trustworthiness.

The journals can easily publish thousands of articles per year and there is no need to filter articles due to restricted slots in the publishing schedule. This study updates some earlier longitudinal studies of the evolution of mega-journals and their publication volumes.

After very rapid growth in 2010–2013, the increase in overall article volumes has slowed down. Mega-journals are also increasingly dependent for sustained growth on Chinese authors, who now contribute 25% of all articles in such journals.

There has also been an internal shift in market shares. PLOS ONE, which totally dominated mega-journal publishing in the early years, currently publishes around one-third of all articles. Scientific Reports has grown rapidly since 2014 and is now the biggest journal.

URL : Evolution of the scholarly mega-journal, 2006–2017

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4357