How open are hybrid journals included in transformative agreements?

Author : Najko Jahn

The ongoing controversy surrounding transformative agreements, which aim to transition journal publishing to full open access, highlight the need for large-scale studies assessing the uptake of open access in hybrid journals. This includes evaluating the extent to which transformative agreements enabled open access.

By combining publicly available data from various sources, including cOAlition S Journal Checker, Crossref, and OpenAlex, this study presents a novel approach that analyses over 700 agreements and nine million journal articles published in more than 11.000 hybrid journals. Estimates suggest a strong growth in open access between 2018 and 2022 from 4.3% to 15%. In 2022, 58% of hybrid open access was enabled by transformative agreements.

This trend was largely driven by the three commercial publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature, and Wiley, but the open access uptake varied substantially across journals, publishers, disciplines, and country affiliations. In particular, comparing the developments in the OECD and BRICS areas revealed different publication trends relative to hybrid open access.

In conclusion, estimates suggest that current levels of implementation of transformative agreements is insufficient to bring about a large-scale transition to full open access.

URL : How open are hybrid journals included in transformative agreements?

Arxiv :

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


Transparency to hybrid open access through publisher-provided metadata: An article-level study of Elsevier

Authors : Najko Jahn, Lisa Matthias, Mikael Laakso

With the growth of open access (OA), the financial flows in scholarly journal publishing have become increasingly complex, but comprehensive data and transparency into these flows are still lacking.

The opaqueness is especially concerning for hybrid OA, where subscription-based journals publish individual articles as OA if an optional fee is paid. This study addresses the lack of transparency by leveraging Elsevier article metadata and provides the first publisher-level study of hybrid OA uptake and invoicing.

Our results show that Elsevier’s hybrid OA uptake has grown steadily but slowly from 2015-2019, doubling the number of hybrid OA articles published per year and increasing the share of OA articles in Elsevier’s hybrid journals from 2.6% to 3.7% of all articles.

Further, we find that most hybrid OA articles were invoiced directly to authors, followed by articles invoiced through agreements with research funders, institutions, or consortia, with only a few funding bodies driving hybrid OA uptake.

As such, our findings point to the role of publishing agreements and OA policies in hybrid OA publishing. Our results further demonstrate the value of publisher-provided metadata to improve the transparency in scholarly publishing by linking invoicing data to bibliometrics.


Open is not forever: A study of vanished open access journals

Authors : Mikael Laakso, Lisa Matthias, Najko Jahn

The preservation of the scholarly record has been a point of concern since the beginning of knowledge production. With print publications, the responsibility rested primarily with librarians, but the shift toward digital publishing and, in particular, the introduction of open access (OA) have caused ambiguity and complexity.

Consequently, the long‐term accessibility of journals is not always guaranteed, and they can even disappear from the web completely. The focus of this exploratory study is on the phenomenon of vanished journals, something that has not been carried out before.

For the analysis, we consulted several major bibliographic indexes, such as Scopus, Ulrichsweb, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, and traced the journals through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

We found 174 OA journals that, through lack of comprehensive and open archives, vanished from the web between 2000 and 2019, spanning all major research disciplines and geographic regions of the world.

Our results raise vital concern for the integrity of the scholarly record and highlight the urgency to take collaborative action to ensure continued access and prevent the loss of more scholarly knowledge.

We encourage those interested in the phenomenon of vanished journals to use the public dataset for their own research.

URL : Open is not forever: A study of vanished open access journals


Open Access Uptake in Germany 2010-18: Adoption in a diverse research landscape

Authors : Anne Hobert, Najko Jahn, Philipp Mayr, Birgit Schmidt, Niels Taubert

This study investigates the development of open access (OA) to journal articles from authors affiliated with German universities and non-university research institutions in the period 2010-2018.

Beyond determining the overall share of openly available articles, a systematic classification of distinct categories of OA publishing allows to identify different patterns of adoption to OA.

Taking into account the particularities of the German research landscape, variations in terms of productivity, OA uptake and approaches to OA are examined at the meso-level and possible explanations are discussed.

The development of the OA uptake is analysed for the different research sectors in Germany (universities, non-university research institutes of the Helmholtz Association, Fraunhofer Society, Max Planck Society, Leibniz Association, and government research agencies).

Combining several data sources (incl. Web of Science, Unpaywall, an authority file of standardised German affiliation information, the ISSN-Gold-OA 3.0 list, and OpenDOAR), the study confirms the growth of the OA share mirroring the international trend reported in related studies.

We found that 45% of all considered articles in the observed period were openly available at the time of analysis. Our findings show that subject-specific repositories are the most prevalent OA type. However, the percentages for publication in fully OA journals and OA via institutional repositories show similarly steep increases.

Enabling data-driven decision-making regarding OA implementation in Germany at the institutional level, the results of this study furthermore can serve as a baseline to assess the impact recent transformative agreements with major publishers will likely have on scholarly communication.

URL : Open Access Uptake in Germany 2010-18: Adoption in a diverse research landscape


Open Access — Towards a non-normative and systematic understanding

Authors : Niels Taubert, Anne Hobert, Nicolas Fraser, Najko Jahn, Elham Iravani

The term Open Access not only describes a certain model of scholarly publishing — namely in digital format freely accessible to readers — but often also implies that free availability of research results is desirable, and hence has a normative character.

Together with the large variety of presently used definitions of different Open Access types, this normativity hinders a systematic investigation of the development of open availability of scholarly literature.

In this paper, we propose a non-normative definition of Open Access and its usage as a neutral, descriptive term in bibliometric studies and research on science.

To this end, we first specify what normative figures are commonly associated with the term Open Access and then develop a neutral definition. We further identify distinguishing characteristics of openly accessible literature, called dimensions, and derive a classification scheme into Open Access categories based on these dimensions.

Additionally, we present an operationalisation method to assign scientific publications to the respective categories in practice. Here, we describe useful data sources, which can be employed to gather the information needed for the classification of scholarly works according to the presented classification scheme.


The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It

Authors : Lisa Matthias, Najko Jahn, Mikael Laakso

As Open access (OA) is often perceived as the end goal of scholarly publishing, much research has focused on flipping subscription journals to an OA model. Focusing on what can happen after the presumed finish line, this study identifies journals that have converted from OA to a subscription model, and places these “reverse flips” within the greater context of scholarly publishing.

In particular, we examine specific journal descriptors, such as access mode, publisher, subject area, society affiliation, article volume, and citation metrics, to deepen our understanding of reverse flips.

Our results show that at least 152 actively publishing journals have reverse-flipped since 2005, suggesting that this phenomenon does not constitute merely a few marginal outliers, but instead a common pattern within scholarly publishing.

Notably, we found that 62% of reverse flips (N = 95) had not been born-OA journals, but had been founded as subscription journals, and hence have experienced a three-stage transformation from closed to open to closed.

We argue that reverse flips present a unique perspective on OA, and that further research would greatly benefit from enhanced data and tools for identifying such cases.

URL : The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It