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DE GRUYTER – Traditional Scholarly Publisher’s Shift Towards Open Access. The Facts Behind the Numbers

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De Gruyter Open published 11,115 papers in fully open access journals in 2014. 11,276 articles were published under De Gruyter’s brand in hybrid journals (of which a small part was also open access). In 2015, the company will probably publish 12,898 papers in fully open access journals and 12,673 in hybrid venues. So it is very likely that the group will publish more open access than conventional articles this year.

There is a growing discussion about the protracted “transition to open” period for which research institutions have to pay for both subscription to traditional venues and publication fees for publishing in open access journals. Many open access activists stress the fact that academic publishers benefit from keeping revenues from these two sources, and therefore will never be keen to transform all their journals to open access. They also use the “double dipping” notion to address the fact that some publishers may be paid twice for the same content, by charging publication fees for keeping some particular journal article open, but still selling subscription to the whole journal, which is partially toll access (this is the called ‘hybrid open access’).

Open access is a growing trend

For the Open Access Week 2015 I’ve decided to approach these problems with the example of De Gruyter and its open access imprint De Gruyter Open. The transition process from toll to open access in the case of the De Gruyter group is tangible and evident, and there is no doubt that the company sees open access as an increasingly important part of its portfolio.

DG Group has currently 544 fully open access journals (DG Open) and 290 hybrid journals (DG). I say ‘hybrid’ because all of these 290 journals are subscription based, and offer an open access option to authors. An author with funding covering an Article Processing Charge can publish an open access article in any of the group’s journals and doesn’t have to pay more for publishing in hybrid journals[1], that are in most cases older and more established.

Double dipping? Not here.

Is De Gruyter paid twice for publications in hybrid journals? No, and it probably never has been. At the moment, few authors use the hybrid open access option at De Gruyter. Recently the company has introduced an anti-double dipping policy, which assumes that the price of the subscription of the journal will be lowered proportionally to the number of open access articles published in this venue. The policy applies to every journal that has at least 5% of its articles published in open access. But this policy is introduced ‘just in case’ to prevent possible future ‘double dipping’, since there are just a few hybrid journals at De Gruyter with more than 2-3% of their articles in open access.


And fully open access venues at De Gruyter Open are doing very well, indeed. The company published 11,115 papers in fully open access journals in 2014 versus 11,276 published under De Gruyter’s brand in hybrid journals (of which a small part was also open access). In 2015 the company will probably publish even more articles in fully open access journals. According to the current estimates, 12,898 papers will be published in De Gruyter Open this year, compared to 12,673 in hybrid journals at De Gruyter. So it is very likely that the group will publish more open access than conventional articles in 2015.

Large volumes of published content make De Gruyter Open one of the top publisher of Open Access globally. According to the data reblogged this week by DOAJ: “traditional publisher De Gruyter has gone from no titles in DOAJ in 2014 to 3rd largest DOAJ publisher” leaving Elsevier and Springer behind.

Interestingly, a large number of DG Open’s journals are free of publication fees. Some of them are co-published by academic societies, which cover the costs of publishing with membership fees or public donations.

[1] – Article Processing Charges at De Gruyter vary from 500 euro to 1500 euro depending on the discipline, but there is no differences between fully open access and hybrid journals. Some journals waive APCs at all. Information about Article Processing Charge is available on the website of every journal published by De Gruyter.

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  1. Dear Witold,
    until now there has been no price adjustment for hybrid articles. Beginning with 2016, subscription prices will be adjusted if there is an uptake of at least 5% hybrid open access titles. So why do you say “Double dipping? Not here”. I would phrase it like: “Double dipping? Yes, until very recently. And in future for everything below 5% which in practice means for every hybrid article.”

    Nevertheless I applaud De Gruyter for bringing a huge number of Gold OA journals to the market. The relation in the number of Gold OA journals and subscription journals is outstanding as compared to every other publisher except for those who started as Gold OA publisher from scratch. This means an excellent starting point for the coming transition process which in my believe will take place in this and in the next decade.

    1. Dear Bernhard,

      Thank you for the comment and for a nice word about full open access journals at De Gruyter.

      With regard to hybrid open access publishing at De Gruyter: we are talking here about a very limited phenomenon. I really doubt that current uptakes of hybrid OA at De Gruyter have a significant influence on a budget of the company or on a budget of any library in the world.

      1. Dear Witold,
        it’s a very small amount indeed. For that very reason it’s hard to understand why you don’t adjust accordingly also for small uptakes. Or, to pose the question another way: Why don’t you allow 5% of all authors to publish their article as hybrid open access articles for free if these are only small amounts?
        BTW, a very easy way to accomplish that (and to silent me :-) was to make the first issue of each volume freely accessible (CC-BY). Elsevier, for example, is doing that as well (though not for that reason).

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