While providing links to articles in Open Access from its subscription-based journals in sciences and humanities, De Gruyter’s featured Conversations blog post suggests that Open Access publications continue to be marginal to output and revenues, despite their growth.
A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.
In its webpage dedicated to Open Access Week 2017, De Gruyter pays homage to this international event taking place from October 23 to 29 by offering links to a selection of Open Access articles from its journals in exact, social and human sciences. This page also links to a post from its Conversations blog in which Hugh Burrows, Ron Weir, and Jürgen Stohner, the editors of the journal Pure and Applied Chemistry, explain their rationale for adopting a hybrid model for their journal that protects with a paywall the article it publishes in the current and previous years, while making technical reports and archived articles available in Open Access. The editors elaborate on this year’s mission of Open Access Week that the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has initiated from 2008 which in 2017 concentrates on the benefits that Open Access can bring to scientific publishers and scholarly associations, such as national chemical societies, in terms of their core mission.
While the editors of Pure and Applied Chemistry stress that Open Access is vital for scientific progress, they also state that it is not necessarily economically sustainable, as publishers may need to develop sources of additional revenue, such as by monetizing their content databases, to compensate for the potential loss in profits that subscription models provide if paywall-protected journals are flipped into Open Access. These editors, thus, echo traditional publishers’ concerns that Open Access can have a negative impact on their existing revenue streams. In a February 2017 report prepared by Deni Auclair that this post refers to, it is indicated that Open Access only accounts for 3% of total revenues that journal publishers demonstrate, even though it accounts for between 16% and 18% of article output. This report also shows that on average article processing charges (APCs) of Open Access journals, the majority of which charge between 0 USD and 3,500 USD, tend to be significantly lower than those of hybrid journals the APCs of which cluster in the range from 1,500 USD to over 5,000 USD, even though Open Access and hybrid journals which levy APCs between 3,500 USD and over 5,000 USD and between 0 USD and 1,500 USD respectively exist. In spite of this, the Open Access market has been found to grow from 374 million USD in 2015 to 419 million USD in 2016, while being expected to grow at the rate varying between 10% and 15% toward 2020. The findings of Auclair’s study are based on interviews with publishers, archivists, institutions and funders as well as materials from conferences, podcasts and webinars, which can limit their empirical validity, as far as the publishing market is concerned.
While Joachim Jähne and Steffi Rudloff, the editors of the Open Access Innovative Surgical Sciences journal launched in 2016 by De Gruyter jointly with the German Society of Surgery advocate for the implementation of article-level metrics to measure journal impact based on scientific community-generated data, Stavros Skopeteas, an editor of the journal Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft founded by the German Linguistics Society in 1982, has indicated that the decision of this journal to switch to Gold Open Access in 2017 has been hotly debated by this association, due to the radical change it introduces to the business model and publication practices.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Interior – Palace of Culture and Science, August 10, 2012 | © Courtesy of Jorge Láscar.