How transformative are transformative agreements? Evidence from Germany across disciplines

Author : W. Benedikt Schmal

Research institutions across the globe attempt to change the academic publishing system as digitization opens up new opportunities, and subscriptions to the large journal bundles of the leading publishers put library budgets under pressure. One approach is the negotiation of so-called transformative agreements.

I study the ‘DEAL’ contracts between nearly all German research institutions and Springer Nature and Wiley. I investigate 6.1 million publications in 5,862 journals covering eight fields in the years 2016–2022 and apply a causal difference-in-differences design to identify whether the likelihood of a paper appearing in an eligible journal increases. The effect strongly depends on the discipline.

While material science, chemistry, and economics s tend to hift towards these journals, all other disciplines in my sample do not react. Suggestive evidence hints at the market position of the encompassed publishers before the ‘DEAL’ was established: Springer Nature and Wiley appear to benefit more from the contracts in disciplines in which they possessed a higher market share ex ante.

The transformative vigor of these agreements in terms of publication behavior seems to be limited. It and highlights that the developments in this intertwined market require further examination.

URL : How transformative are transformative agreements? Evidence from Germany across disciplines


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 Impact of the German ‘DEAL’ on Competition in the Academic Publishing Market

Authors : Justus Haucap, Nima Moshgbar, Wolfgang Benedikt Schmal

The German DEAL agreements between German universities and research institutions on the one side and Springer Nature and Wiley on the other side facilitate easy open access publishing for researchers located in Germany.

We use a dataset of all publications in chemistry from 2016 to 2020 and apply a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the impact on eligible scientists’ choice of publication outlet.

We find that even in the short period following the conclusion of these DEAL agreements, publication patterns in the field of chemistry have changed, as eligible researchers have increased their publications in Wiley and Springer Nature journals at the cost of other journals.

From that two related competition concerns emerge: First, academic libraries may be, at least in the long run, left with fewer funds and incentives to subscribe to non-DEAL journals published by smaller publishers or to fund open access publications in these journals.

Secondly, eligible authors may prefer to publish in journals included in the DEAL agreements, thereby giving DEAL journals a competitive advantage over non-DEAL journals in attracting good papers.

Given the two-sided market nature of the academic journal market, these effects may both further spur the concentration process in this market.