Transformation: the future of society publishing

Authors : Tasha Mellins-Cohen, Gaynor Redvers-Mutton

The release in September 2018 of Plan S has led many small and society publishers to examine their business models, and in particular ways to transform their journals from hybrids into pure open access (OA) titles.

This paper explores one means by which a society publisher might transform, focused specifically on the institutional set-price publish and read (P&R) package being developed by the Microbiology Society based on assessments of: the geographic diversity of our author and subscriber bases; trends in article numbers, article costs and revenues; the administrative complexity of the options; and the reputational and financial risks to the Society associated with the package.

We outline the process we followed to calculate the financial and publishing implications of P&R at different price points, and share our view that these kinds of packages are a stop on the way to new models of OA that do not rely on article processing charges (APCs).

Our hope is that in sharing our experience, we will contribute to a collective best practice about how to transform society publishing.

URL : Transformation: the future of society publishing

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.486

Article processing charges: Mirroring the citation impact or legacy of the subscription-based model?

Author : Nina Schönfelder

With the ongoing open-access transformation, article processing charges (APCs) are gaining importance as one of the main business models for open-access publishing in scientific journals.

This paper analyzes how much of APC pricing can be attributed to journal-related factors. With UK data from OpenAPC (which aggregates fees paid for open-access articles by universities, funders, and research institutions), APCs are explained by the following variables: (1) the “source normalized impact per paper” (SNIP), (2) whether the journal is open access or hybrid, (3) the publisher of the journal, (4) the subject area of the journal, and (5) the year.

The results of the multivariate linear regression show that the journal’s impact and the hybrid status are the most important factors for the level of APCs. However, the relationship between APC and SNIP is different for open-access journals and hybrid journals.

APCs paid to open-access journals were found to be strongly increasing in conjunction with higher journal citation impact, whereas this relationship was observed to be much looser for articles in hybrid journals.

This paper goes beyond simple statistics, which have been discussed so far in the literature, by using control variables and applying statistical inference.

URL : Article processing charges: Mirroring the citation impact or legacy of the subscription-based model?

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00015

Business as Usual with Article Processing Charges in the Transition towards OA Publishing: A Case Study Based on Elsevier

Author : Sergio Copiello

This paper addresses the topic of the article processing charges (APCs) that are paid when publishing articles using the open access (OA) option. Building on the Elsevier OA price list, company balance sheet figures, and ScienceDirect data, tentative answers to three questions are outlined using a Monte Carlo approach to deal with the uncertainty inherent in the inputs.

The first question refers to the level of APCs from the market perspective, under the hypothesis that all the articles published in Elsevier journals exploit the OA model so that the subscription to ScienceDirect becomes worthless.

The second question is how much Elsevier should charge for publishing all the articles under the OA model, assuming the profit margin reduces and adheres to the market benchmark.

The third issue is how many articles would have to be accepted, in an OA-only publishing landscape, so that the publisher benefits from the same revenue and profit margin as in the recent past.

The results point to high APCs, nearly twice the current level, being required to preserve the publisher’s profit margin. Otherwise, by relaxing that constraint, a downward shift of APCs can be expected so they would tend to get close to current values. Accordingly, the article acceptance rate could be likely to grow from 26–27% to about 35–55%.

URL : Business as Usual with Article Processing Charges in the Transition towards OA Publishing: A Case Study Based on Elsevier

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications8010003

The Pricing of Open Access Journals: Diverse Niches and Sources of Value in Academic Publishing

Authors : Kyle Siler, Koen Frenken

Open Access (OA) publishing has created new academic and economic niches in contemporary science. OA journals offer numerous publication outlets with varying editorial philosophies and business models.

This article analyzes the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (N=12,127) to identify characteristics of OA academic journals related to the adoption of Article Processing Charge (APC)-based business models, as well as price points of journals that charge APCs. Journal Impact Factor (JIF), language, publisher mission, DOAJ Seal, economic and geographic regions of publishers, peer review duration and journal discipline are all significantly related to the adoption and pricing of journal APCs.

Even after accounting for other journal characteristics (prestige, discipline, publisher country), journals published by for-profit publishers charge the highest APCs. Journals with status endowments (JIF, DOAJ Seal), articles written in English, published in wealthier regions, and in medical or science-based disciplines are also relatively costlier.

The OA publishing market reveals insights into forces that create economic and academic value in contemporary science. Political and institutional inequalities manifest in the varying niches occupied by different OA journals and publishers.

URL : The Pricing of Open Access Journals: Diverse Niches and Sources of Value in Academic Publishing

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00016

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

The Transcript OPEN Library Political Science Model: A Sustainable Way into Open Access for E-Books in the Humanities and Social Science

Authors : Alexandra Jobmann, Nina Schönfelder

The strategic goal of the project “National Contact Point Open Access OA2020-DE” is to create the conditions for a large-scale open-access transformation in accordance with the Alliance of German Science Organizations.

In close collaboration with the publisher transcript, we developed a business model that strengthens the transformation process for e-books in the humanities and social sciences.

It largely addresses the drawbacks of existing models. Moreover, it is manageable, sustainable, transparent, and scalable for both publishers and libraries. This case report describes the setup of the model, its successful implementation for the branch “political science” of transcript in 2019, and provides a Strengths–Weaknesses–Opportunities–Threats (SWOT) analysis.

We believe that it has the potential to become one of the major open-access business models for research monographs and anthologies in the humanities and social sciences, especially for non-English e-books.

URL : The Transcript OPEN Library Political Science Model: A Sustainable Way into Open Access for E-Books in the Humanities and Social Science

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030055

Bibliodiversity in Practice: Developing Community-Owned, Open Infrastructures to Unleash Open Access Publishing

Authors : Lucy Barnes, Rupert Gatti

Academic publishing is changing. The drive towards open access publishing, which is being powered in the UK by funding bodies (SHERPA Juliet), the requirements of REFs 2021 (UKRI) and 2027 (Hill 2018), and Europe-wide movements such as the recently-announced Plan S (‘About Plan S’), has the potential to shake up established ways of publishing academic research.

Within book publishing, the traditional print formats and the conventional ways of disseminating research, which are protected and promoted by a small number of powerful incumbents, are being challenged.

Academic publishing, and academic book publishing, is at a crossroads: will it find ways to accommodate open access distribution within its existing structures?

Or will new systems of research dissemination be developed? And what might those new systems look like?In this article we look at the main features of the existing monograph publication and distribution ecosystem, and question the suitability of this for open access monographs.

We look specifically at some of the key economic characteristics of the monograph publishing market and consider their implications for new infrastructures designed specifically to support open access titles.

The key observations are that the production of monographs displays constant returns to scale, and so can (and does) support large numbers of publishing initiatives; at the same time the distribution and discovery systems for monographs display increasing returns to scale and so naturally leads to the emergence of a few large providers.

We argue that in order to protect the diversity of players and outputs within the monograph publishing industry in the transition to open access it is important to create open and community-managed infrastructures and revenue flows that both cater for different business models and production workflows and are resistant to take over or control by a single (or small number) of players.

URL : https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02175276/