Opening Academic Publishing – Development and application of systematic evaluation criteria

Authors : Anna Björk, Juho-Matti Paavola, Teemu Ropponen, Mikael Laakso, Leo Lahti

This report summarizes the development of a standardized scorecard for evaluating the openness of academic publishers. The assessment was completed in January 2018 as part of the Open Science and Research Initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

The project complements the previous reports published by the Open Science and Research Initiative and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, which have covered (i) the openness of universities and polytechnics, (ii) the overall situation of OA publishing costs in Finland, and (iii) research organization and research funding organizations, including selected European research funders.

The project mapped and evaluated the openness of selected major academic publishers: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), American Chemical Society (ACS), Elsevier, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (LWW), Sage, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell. The dimensions of publisher openness were summarized in a scorecard of seven key factors, providing a new tool for systematic and standardized evaluation.

We used data from the publisher websites to compare the key factors of openness, and the publishers were given a chance to provide comments on the collected information. As complementary sources, we utilized data from commonly acknowledged, open databases: Directory of OA Journals (DOAJ), Gold OA Journals 2011-2016 (GOAJ2), Scopus (title list + Scimago), and Sherpa / Romeo.

The main results include the scorecard and the evaluation of openness of the selected major academic publishers. These are based on seven key factors: (i) Fraction of open access (OA) journals and their articles of the total publication output, (ii) costs of OA publishing (article processing charges, APC), (iii) use of Creative Commons (CC) licensing, (iv) self-archiving policies, (v) access to text and data mining (TDM), (vi) openness of citation data, and (vii) accessibility of information relating to OA practices.

To take a look beyond the publisher level into journal level practices we also sampled individual journals. We use the samples to discuss the distribution of journals according to APCs, their licensing and three impact metrics (CiteScore 2016, Scimago Journal & Country Ranks (SJR) 2016, and Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016).

The evaluation of the selected publishers with the scorecard indicates, for example, that the fraction of OA journals and their articles of the total publication output runs low within this group. In our sample of journals, the most expensive OA journals also seem to bear the highest impact metrics.

A definite view on the matter, however, would require more extensive data and further research. We
conclude by discussing key aspects and complexities in quantitative evaluation and in the design of a standardized assessment of publisher openness, and note also further factors that could be included in future versions of the scorecard.

URL : Opening Academic Publishing – Development and application of systematic evaluation criteria

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The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era


“The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.”

URL : The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era

DOI :10.1371/journal.pone.0127502

Evolution or revolution? Publishers’ perceptions of future directions in research communications and the publisher role


“This report presents a snapshot of the views of a wide range of publishers, covering their perceptions of future directions in research communications, scholarly publishing and the role of publishers. It is important to emphasise that there is not a single “publishers’ view” on these matters: the publishers represented here are of differing scale, ownership, (dominant) business model, discipline, and tradition, and their views reflect that diversity of experience.

 Nearly 20 publishers of different types and scale were interviewed: for-profit and not-for-profit; open access and subscription-based; commercial, society, university presses; and with representation from all scholarly fields. We aimed to synthesise the views thus gathered, while reflecting the diversity of opinion where salient.”

 URL : Evolution or revolution? Publishers’ perceptions of future directions in research communications and the publisher role

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Scénarios prospectifs pour l’édition sc…

Scénarios prospectifs pour l’édition scientifique :

“Cet article s’intéresse au marché de l’édition scientifique et à son évolution dans le cadre de l’Internet et du développement du libre accès. Il s’attache à montrer la diversité de ce marché en fonction des champs scientifiques, notamment par le type d’éditeurs impliqués, les lectorats concernés, les économies associées. Il met en garde sur le nécessaire discernement de ces marchés face aux critiques générales de dysfonctionnement soulignées. Il pointe certaines effets contrastés du numérique conduisant à certaines reconfigurations paradoxales. Enfin, la vision prospective sur le devenir de ce marché insiste sur la pluralité des modalités de progression vers le libre accès, le poids de la dimension politique et celui des processus d’évaluation de la recherche. La voie d’un partenariat public-privé est privilégiée au regard de valeurs centrales : indépendance, qualité, accessibilité et pérennité des publications scientifiques”