Mapping the German Diamond Open Access Journal Landscape

Authors : Niels Taubert, Linda Sterzik, Andre Bruns

In the current scientific and political discourse surrounding the transformation of the scientific publication system, significant attention is focused on Diamond Open Access (OA).

This article explores the potential and challenges of Diamond OA journals, using Germany as a case study. Two questions are addressed: first, the current role of such journals in the scientific publication system is determined through bibliometric analysis across various disciplines. Second, an investigation is conducted to assess the sustainability of Diamond OA journals and identify associated structural problems or potential breaking points.

This investigation includes an in-depth expert interview study involving 20 editors of Diamond OA journals. The empirical results are presented using a landscape map that considers two dimensions: ‘monetized and gift-based completion of tasks’ and ‘journal team size.’ The bibliometric analysis reveals a substantial number of Diamond OA journals in the social sciences and humanities, but limited adoption in other fields.

The model proves effective for small to mid-sized journals, but not for larger ones. Additionally, it was found that 23 Diamond OA journals have recently discontinued their operations. The expert interviews demonstrate the usefulness of the two dimensions in understanding key differences.

Journals in two of the four quadrants of the map exemplify sustainable conditions, while the other two quadrants raise concerns about long-term stability. These concerns include limited funding leading to a lack of division of labor and an excessive burden on highly committed members.

These findings underscore the need for the development of more sustainable funding models to ensure the success of Diamond OA journals.


Understanding differences of the OA uptake within the German university landscape (2010–2020): part 1—journal-based OA

Authors : Niels Taubert, Anne Hobert, Najko Jahn, Andre Bruns, Elham Iravan

This study investigates the determinants for the uptake of Full and Hybrid Open Access (OA) in the university landscape of Germany and distinguishes between three factors: The disciplinary profile, infrastructures and services of universities that aim to support OA, and large transformative agreements.

The uptake of OA, the influence of the disciplinary profile of universities and the influence of transformative agreements is measured by combining several data sources (incl. Web of Science, Unpaywall, an authority file of standardised German affiliation information, the ISSN-Gold-OA 4.0 list, and lists of publications covered by transformative agreements).

For infrastructures and services that support OA, a structured data collection was created by harvesting different sources of information and by manual online search. To determine the explanatory power of the different factors, a series of regression analyses was performed for different periods and for both Full as well as Hybrid OA.

As a result of the regression analyses, the most determining factor for the explanation of differences in the uptake of both OA-types turned out to be the disciplinary profile. For the year 2020, Hybrid OA transformative agreements have become a second relevant factor.

However, all variables that reflect local infrastructural support and services for OA turned out to be non-significant. To deepen the understanding of the adoption of OA on the level of institutions, the outcomes of the regression analyses are contextualised by an interview study conducted with 20 OA officers of German universities.

URL : Understanding differences of the OA uptake within the German university landscape (2010–2020): part 1—journal-based OA


Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges

Authors : Andre Bruns, Niels Taubert

The Open Access (OA) publishing model that is based on article processing charges (APC) is often associated with the potential for more transparency regarding the expenditures for publications.

However, the extent to which transparency can be achieved depends not least on the completeness of data in APC monitoring systems. This article investigates two blind spots of the largest collection of APC payment information, OpenAPC. It aims to identify likely APC-liable publications for German universities that contribute to this system and for those that do not provide data to it.

The calculation combines data from Web of Science, the ISSN-Gold-OA-list and OpenAPC. The results show that for the group of universities contributing to the monitoring system, more than half of the APC payments are not covered by it and the average payments for non-covered APCs is higher than for APCs covered by the system.

In addition, the group of universities that do not contribute to OpenAPC accounts for two thirds of the number of APC-liable publications recorded for contributing universities. Regarding the size of these blind spots, the value of the monitoring system is limited at present.

URL : Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges


Waiving article processing charges for least developed countries: a keystone of a large-scale open access transformation

Authors : Niels Taubert, Andre Bruns, Christopher Lenke, Graham Stone

This article investigates whether it is economically feasible for a large publishing house to waive article processing charges for the group of 47 so-called least developed countries (LDC). As an example, Springer Nature is selected.

The analysis is based on the Web of Science, OpenAPC and the Jisc Collections’ Springer Compact journal list. As a result, it estimates an average yearly publication output of 520 publications (or 0.26% of the worldwide publication output in Springer Nature journals) for the LDC country group.

The loss of revenues for Springer Nature would be US$1.1 million if a waiver was applied for all of these countries. Given that the subject categories of these publications indicate the output is of high societal relevance for LDC, and given that money is indispensable for development in these countries (e.g. life expectancy, health, education), it is not only desirable but also possible in economic terms for a publisher like Springer Nature to waive APCs for these countries without much loss in revenues.

URL : Waiving article processing charges for least developed countries: a keystone of a large-scale open access transformation