Should open access lead to closed research? The trends towards paying to perform research

Authors : Lin Zhang, Yahui Wei, Ying Huang, Gunnar Sivertsen

Open Access (OA) emerged as an important transition in scholarly publishing worldwide during the past two decades. So far, this transition is increasingly based on article processing charges (APC), which create a new paywall on the researchers’ side. Publishing is part of the research process and thereby necessary to perform research.

This study analyses the global trends towards paying to perform research by combing observed trends in publishing from 2015 to 2020 with an APC price list. APC expenses have sharply increased among six countries with different OA policies: the USA, China, the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The estimated global revenues from APC among major publishers now exceed 2 billion US dollars annually. Mergers and takeovers show that the industry is moving towards APC-based OA as the more profitable business model.

Research publishing will be closed to those who cannot make an institution or project money payment. Our results lead to a discussion of whether APC is the best way to promote OA.

URL : Should open access lead to closed research? The trends towards paying to perform research


Tracing the context in disciplinary classifications: A bibliometric pairwise comparison of five classifications of journals in the social sciences and humanities

Authors : Linda Sīle, Raf Guns, Frédéric Vandermoere, Gunnar Sivertsen, Tim C. E. Engels

Despite the centrality of disciplinary classifications in bibliometric analyses, it is not well known how the choice of disciplinary classification influences bibliometric representations of research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH).

This is especially crucial when using data from national databases. Therefore, we examine the differences in the disciplinary profile of an article along with the absolute and relative number of articles across disciplines using five disciplinary classifications for journals. We use data on journal articles (2006–2015) from the national bibliographic databases VABB-SHW in Flanders (Belgium) and Cristin in Norway.

Our study is based on pairwise comparisons of the local classifications used in these databases, the Web of Science subject categories, the Science-Metrix, and the ERIH PLUS journal classifications.

For comparability, all classifications are mapped to the OECD Fields of Research and Development classification. The findings show that the choice of disciplinary classification can lead to over- or underestimation of the absolute number of publications per discipline.

In contrast, if the focus is on the relative numbers, the choice of classification has practically no influence. These findings facilitate an informed choice of a disciplinary classification for journals in SSH when using data from national databases.


Open access at the national level: A comprehensive analysis of publications by Finnish researchers

Authors : Janne Pölönen, Mikael Laakso, Raf Guns, Emanuel Kulczycki, Gunnar Sivertsen

Open access (OA) has mostly been studied by relying on publication data from selective international databases, notably Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus.

The aim of our study is to show that it is possible to achieve a national estimate of the number and share of OA based on institutional publication data providing a comprehensive coverage of the peer-reviewed outputs across fields, publication types, and languages.

Our data consists of 48,177 journal, conference, and book publications from 14 Finnish universities in 2016–2017, including information about OA status, as self-reported by researchers and validated by data-collection personnel through their Current Research Information System (CRIS).

We investigate the WoS, Scopus, and DOI coverage, as well as the share of OA outputs between different fields, publication types, languages, OA mechanisms (gold, hybrid, and green), and OA information sources (DOAJ, Bielefeld list, and Sherpa/Romeo).

We also estimate the role of the largest international commercial publishers compared to the not-for-profit Finnish national publishers of journals and books.

We conclude that institutional data, integrated at national and international level, provides one of the building blocks of a large-scale data infrastructure needed for comprehensive assessment and monitoring of OA across countries, for example at the European level.