2014 was the year of groundbreaking conversions to open access. The most publicized-one was the transition of Nature Communications, which revealed that open access is attractive even for the most reputable journals worldwide. The conversion of 8 Central European Journals was also accomplished this year by De Gruyter Open, and was a significant change for researchers in the region, and hopefully it will prove to be important for global community. Due to this recent development I was quite surprised when I came back to the paper by David J. Solomon, Bo-Christer Bjork and Mikael Laakso “A longitudinal comparison of citation rates and growth among open access journals”, which has been already discussed on this blog.
The thing which surprised me is the graph attached to the text, representing the number of journals that converted to open access each year. The graph is based on data from SCOPUS and DOAJ. According to this data the number of journal conversions had been growing gradually year by year from 1995 to 2000, but then it started to decline, which is hard to explain. Eventually, in 2012, it reached a lower value than in 1997.
At the very same time the global number of open access journals was growing continuously, which means that launching new journals has become a more popular strategy than converting more established ones. What does this mean? Have publishers already converted all the journals they consider suitable for open access? Are all the remaining conventional journals profitable enough to remain on the market with their current model?
There is a large number of regional journals that have very small circulations. For them open access is a chance to reach a broader audience. What happened to their publishers that they do not want to make them open? Are conditions different than 10 years ago?