The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How the Big Five Academic Publishers Profit from Article Processing Charges

Authors : Leigh-Ann Butler, Lisa Matthias, Marc-André Simard, Philippe Mongeon, Stefanie Haustein

This study aims to estimate the total amount of article processing charges (APCs) paid to publish open access (OA) in journals controlled by the five large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley between 2015 and 2018.

Using publication data from WoS, OA status from Unpaywall and annual APC prices from open datasets and historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, we estimate that globally authors paid $1.06 billion in publication fees to these publishers from 2015–2018.

Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the most revenue from OA ($589.7 million), followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million) and Sage ($31.6 million).

With Elsevier and Wiley making most of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.

URL : The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How the Big Five Academic Publishers Profit from Article Processing Charges


The APC-Barrier and its effect on stratification in open access publishing

Authors : Thomas Klebel, Tony Ross-Hellauer

Current implementations of Open Access (OA) publishing frequently involve Article Publishing Charges (APCs). Increasing evidence emerges that APCs impede researchers with fewer resources in publishing their research OA.

We analysed 1.5 million scientific articles from journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals to assess average APCs and their determinants for a comprehensive set of journal publications, across scientific disciplines, world regions and through time.

Levels of APCs were strongly stratified by scientific fields and the institutions’ countries, corroborating previous findings on publishing cultures and the impact of mandates of research funders.

After controlling for country and scientific field with a multilevel mixture model, however, we found small to moderate effects of levels of institutional resourcing on the level of APCs.

Effects were largest in countries with low GDP, suggesting decreasing marginal effects of institutional resources when general levels of funding are high. Our findings provide further evidence on how APCs stratify OA publishing and highlight the need for alternative publishing models.

URL : The APC-Barrier and its effect on stratification in open access publishing


Diamond Open Access in Norway 2017–2020

Author : Jan Erik Frantsvåg

We see from information published elsewhere that Gold OA is on the increase globally. The OA Diamond study indicates that Diamond OA is an important component of scholarly communications, with an estimated 8–9% of the total global scholarly output.

These numbers, however, are on a global scale and are not necessarily representative of any given country; country case studies are needed to find this information. Norway is a country where the government has declared a 100% OA goal and most research has public funding. Norway has good financing structures for various models of OA, and it has a national CRIS system.

This study tries to find and present numbers for articles in scholarly journals to describe both recent developments and relative numbers for Norway as a whole, and for scholarly fields in Norway, with regards to Diamond OA. Numbers for and development of Gold OA will also be given and commented upon to some extent.

URL : Diamond Open Access in Norway 2017–2020


The Future of OA: A large-scale analysis projecting Open Access publication and readership

Authors : Heather Piwowar, Jason Priem, Richard Orr

Understanding the growth of open access (OA) is important for deciding funder policy, subscription allocation, and infrastructure planning.

This study analyses the number of papers available as OA over time. The models includes both OA embargo data and the relative growth rates of different OA types over time, based on the OA status of 70 million journal articles published between 1950 and 2019.

The study also looks at article usage data, analyzing the proportion of views to OA articles vs views to articles which are closed access. Signal processing techniques are used to model how these viewership patterns change over time. Viewership data is based on 2.8 million uses of the Unpaywall browser extension in July 2019.

We found that Green, Gold, and Hybrid papers receive more views than their Closed or Bronze counterparts, particularly Green papers made available within a year of publication. We also found that the proportion of Green, Gold, and Hybrid articles is growing most quickly.

In 2019:

  • 31% of all journal articles are available as OA
  • 52% of article views are to OA article

Given existing trends, we estimate that by 2025:

  • 44% of all journal articles will be available as OA

  • 70% of article views will be to OA articles

The declining relevance of closed access articles is likely to change the landscape of scholarly communication in the years to come.

URL : The Future of OA: A large-scale analysis projecting Open Access publication and readership


Open Access Routes Dichotomy and Opportunities: Consolidation, Analysis and Trends at the Spanish National Research Council

Authors : Mercedes Baquero-Arribas, Luis Dorado, Isabel Bernal

This article gives a comprehensive overview of recent Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) publications available in Open Access. With a focus on research articles from the last decade (2008–2018), this work aims to fill the gap in previous studies about publishing trends and impact monitoring of publications by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council.

Evolution and main trends of Green and Gold Open Access routes at CSIC are addressed through a close insight into DIGITAL.CSIC repository and institutional Open Access Publishing Support Programme.

The article draws on major conclusions at a time when an institutional Open Access mandate has just entered into force. The article also relates findings about performance of institutional Open Access Publishing Initiative and total volume of CSIC articles published in Open Access with an estimation of overall costs on article processing charges during these years.

Furthermore, the data serve as a basis to make preliminary considerations as to opportunities to move from a subscription-based model to one fully aligned with Gold Open Access publishing.

The data analyzed come from a variety of sources, including public information and internal records maintained by the CSIC E-resources Subscription programme, DIGITAL.CSIC and data retrieved from GesBIB, an internal, in-house development tool that integrates bibliographic information about CSIC publications as well as data from several external APIs, including Unpaywall, DOAJ and Sherpa Romeo.

URL : Open Access Routes Dichotomy and Opportunities: Consolidation, Analysis and Trends at the Spanish National Research Council


Are funder Open Access platforms a good idea?

Authors : Tony Ross-Hellauer​, Birgit Schmidt, Bianca Kramer

As open access to publications continues to gather momentum we should continuously question whether it is moving in the right direction. A novel intervention in this space is the creation of open access publishing platforms commissioned by funding organisations. Examples include those of the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, as well as recently announced initiatives from public funders like the European Commission and the Irish Health Research Board.

As the number of such platforms increases, it becomes urgently necessary to assess in which ways, for better or worse, this emergent phenomenon complements or disrupts the scholarly communications landscape.

This article examines ethical, organisational and economic strengths and weaknesses of such platforms, as well as usage and uptake to date, to scope the opportunities and threats presented by funder open access platforms in the ongoing transition to open access.

The article is broadly supportive of the aims and current implementations of such platforms, finding them a novel intervention which stand to help increase OA uptake, control costs of OA, lower administrative burden on researchers, and demonstrate funders’ commitment to fostering open practices.

However, the article identifies key areas of concern about the potential for unintended consequences, including the appearance of conflicts of interest, difficulties of scale, potential lock-in and issues of the branding of research.

The article ends with key recommendations for future consideration which include a focus on open scholarly infrastructure.

URL : Are funder Open Access platforms a good idea?


We’ve failed: Pirate black open access is trumping green and gold and we must change our approach

Author : Toby Green

Key points

Sci-Hub has made nearly all articles freely available using a black open access model, leaving green and gold models in its dust.

 Why, after 20 years of effort, have green and gold open access not achieved more? Do we need ‘tae think again’?

 If human nature is to postpone change for as long as possible, are green and gold open access fundamentally flawed?

 Open and closed publishing models depend on bundle pricing paid by one stakeholder, the others getting a free ride. Is unbundling a fairer model?

If publishers changed course and unbundled their product, would this open a legal, fairer route to 100% open access and see off the pirates?