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The Revenues of the Open Access Article Publication Market Lag Behind its Output, Despite Growth

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The New York Public Library and Bryant Park, New York, USA, March 28, 2010 | © Courtesy of Scott.

Latest reports show that the Open Access journal-level publication market has ample room for development, as Open Access journals’ revenues are yet to match the rates of their articles published, as the global Open Access market begins to mature and demonstrates superior publication-level visibility performance.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

As recent projections peg the value of the global Open Access market to reach over half a billion USD in 2018, should its growth dynamics be maintained, empirical data, nevertheless, indicate that, whereas Open Access articles have constituted 20% of all those published in the year 2016, the contribution of Open Access publications to journal industry revenues has ranged between 4% and 9% in the same period. At the same time, since these figures only refer to Gold Open Access publications, it can be surmised that Green and hybrid Open Access journals are likely to demonstrate higher revenue performance levels than their Gold Open Access counterparts. Even though these findings can be interpreted as indicating the slow pace of the global Open Access market maturation, given that the Budapest Open Access Initiative has been inaugurated in 2002, its continued growth, such as that of 21% between 2015 and 2016, also demonstrates the vitality of this publication market’s sector.

While arguments against Open Access as a publication model continue to cite the importance of journal impact factors for scientific authors, as far as their decisions about publication venues are concerned, the system-wide cost-cutting impact of either opting for or converting into Open Access on the level of individual journals can hardly be disputed. In some cases, traditional scientific journals continue to charge authors anachronistic page fees, such as 110 USD per page, long after the digital access to the toll-protected publications has become widespread. In comparison, article processing charges (APCs) that some Open Access journals levy represent a lumpsum payment that can be likely lower than total per-page charges of conventional journals which scientific authors may not necessarily have sufficient fund to pay, especially since, unlike Open Access APCs, academic institutions do not have a cost-cutting-related rationale to subsidize these.

In other words, even after covering publication-related charges due to traditional journals, universities and libraries need to acquire subscriptions from their publishers. In this respect, neither for researchers nor for institutions, illegal article downloading websites, such as Sci-Hub, cannot be deemed as a solution to rising subscription fees, as the recent lawsuit that American Chemical Society has won against Sci-Hub paves the way for blocking access to this website by Internet service providers and web search engines and closing down the servers the host its contents.

By contrast, a recent report from Springer Nature has shown that on average book chapters and monographs published in Open Access have 7-fold higher download, 50% greater citation and 10 times more frequent social media mention rates than their subscription-based or non-Open Access counterparts. Even though this report has compared the publication-level visibility performance of between 184 and 216 Open Access books versus 14,357 and 17,124 non-Open Access books from various databases, this indicates the potential impact factor performance of Open Access journals in the article sector of the publishing market as well.

Additionally, the growing share of Open Access publications is likely to contribute to the economic sustainability and global accessibility of scientific knowledge dissemination around the world.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: The New York Public Library and Bryant Park, New York, USA, March 28, 2010 | © Courtesy of Scott.

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