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The Structure of the Journal Publishing Market May Become Less Concentrated, as Open Access Platforms Mature

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ERNACT Interregional Management Committee (IMC) Guildhall, Derry (Northern Ireland, UK, November 27, 2013 | © Courtesy of @ERNACT/Flickr.

As the European Research Council gives a nod of official acceptance to preprints as valid scientific publications and the European Commission tests the waters for launching its own Open Access platform for sharing scientific results, the dynamics of the publishing market are likely change as hybrid publishing approaches, such as institutional repositories, with financial support from multiple sources increasingly gain in limelight.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


In its recent announcement concerning the planned changes in its Work Programme for 2019, the European Research Council (ERC) has highlighted its support for Open Access, as it indicated that preprints will be acceptable as publications indicative of scholarly track records. More specifically, the ERC intends to allow preprints as indicators of scientific achievements relevant for research grant applications for its funding, if they are published in Open Access at recognized institutional repositories, are referenced in scientific databases and have permanent links to or digital object identifiers (DOIs) associated with the corresponding papers. Aside from signaling its support for Open Access, this notice of the ERC also shows the changing structure of the scholarly publishing market in which preprint servers are gaining increasing visibility.

While preprints are usually draft versions of peer-reviewed articles published by academic journals, their digital repositories, such as arXiv, are mostly used in applied or theoretical science fields, such as physics or mathematics. Their recognition by international research funding bodies adds to the growing profile of Open Access publishing in science. However, whereas Open Access publishing models continue to meet with limited understanding in academic media and communities, as preprint platforms will be adding access embargoes, diversifying their financial support bases, such as through institutional memberships and transparent author-facing charges, and ensuring that papers that they host meet requirements of scientific research they can be expected to become increasingly trusted by various participants in the scientific publishing market.

In this respect, given the scores of billions of Euros that the European Commission disburses for the promotion and support of science, such as in the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, its planned transition to Open Access as the preferred publication option for scientific results is likely to increase the centrality of preprint repositories and Open Access publishers in the European and international journal and book publishing market.

By the same token, the increased transparency in relation to author-facing costs, institutional memberships and manuscript review procedures that Open Access involves can also be expected to contribute to the decentralization of the scientific publishing market, since as a format Open Access favors article-level impact metrics that reduce the pressure to publish in academic journals with high impact-factor rankings that large publishers, such as Elsevier, usually have in their portfolios.

At the same time, as recent discussions of Open Access in scientific publishing indicate, given the competition for research funds between researchers and organizations, article processing charges and Gold Open Access can be expected to supplement rather than replace more conventional, subscription-based publishing models that continue ensuring scientific quality.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: ERNACT Interregional Management Committee (IMC) Guildhall, Derry, Northern Ireland, UK, November 27, 2013 | © Courtesy of @ERNACT/Flickr.

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