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Transparency, Collaboration and Cost Effectiveness Drive Growth in Open Access, as Subscription-Based Sectors Shrink

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Day 3: Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference, the National Marine Sanctuary, Pago Pago, American Samoa, USA, February 7, 2013 | © Courtesy of US Embassy/Flickr.

Open Access publishing grows in popularity internationally, due to the enabler role of digital infrastructures for social networking, global visibility, transparent peer reviews and low-cost solutions, such as national-level preprint repositories, built on top of them.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

According to some accounts, approximately 1 million articles are likely published in Open Access on a yearly basis with an estimated annual growth of 10% in the number of researchers adopting Open Access. This could be facilitated by Open Access mandates and funding, such as from international organizations, as Open Access carves a presence in the global publishing market reportedly worth more than 42 billion USD in 2016 based on data from 11 developed countries and emerging markets alone. In this respect, the significant growth in the Open Access sector was described as taking place on the background of declining market shares of subscription-based journals, such as in the domains of Science, Technology and Medicine (STM).

While specific empirical data on the global subscription-based and Open Access market may be hard to come by, circumstantial evidence concerning the publishing practices of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center indicate that based on the information on its 50 most recent publications, circa 10% of articles were apparently published in Gold Open Access journals, whereas 22% were published in hybrid Open Access journals. Especially as the funding availability for article processing charges, on which Open Access journals depend to cover their expenses, increases the benefits of Open Access for scientific communities, such as transparent procedures, cost savings, unrestricted accessibility, international collaboration, accelerated intellectual exchanges and innovative solutions, become increasingly apparent.

This is demonstrated by the recently announced launch of OSA Continuum, an Open Access journal of the Optical Society, which will begin operating in September 2018. The Open Access format of this journal was considered to be fully compatible with high standards of scientific rigorousness. Moreover, this journal will incorporate significant innovations in its practices, such as the publication of reproducibility inquiries negative results, while enabling open peer review, when authors will be able to choose to include reviewer feedback and their responses into the final versions of their publications.

Likewise, in June 2018, AfricArxiv, a preprint repository for publications by African scholars has been launched, in order to boost the visibility and impact of their scientific output. The expected benefits of this Open Access repository include improved researcher collaboration, knowledge dissemination and lay audience outreach. While this initiative is supported by the Open Science Framework (OSF) that provides open source software infrastructure, it also demonstrates the local momentum for Open Access in Africa, as Elsevier, jointly with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, has launched the Open Access journal Scientific African in April, 2018.

That at present the OSF, operated by the Center for Open Science, hosts 21 preprint servers for scholarly communities from around the world, such as from Indonesia, Arabic-speaking countries and the African continent, is a testament to the rapid take-up of Open Access internationally.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Day 3: Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference, the National Marine Sanctuary, Pago Pago, American Samoa, USA, February 7, 2013 | © Courtesy of US Embassy/Flickr.

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