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With the Growing Number and Diversity of Mega-Journals, Exact Sciences Are at the Forefront of Open Access Adoption

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Art and Maths Workshop, University College London (UCL), London, England, UK, March 21, 2014 | © Courtesy of UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences/Flickr.

As the majority of scientific publishers have been launching Open Access mega-journals in recent years, their impact on the journal publishing market remains uncertain. According to recent studies, however, biomedical research and mathematics appear to be leading the transition to various models of Open Access.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

While a decade ago Open Access mega-journals have been a marginal phenomenon with total yearly article output hovering around 2,500 in 2008, by 2015 approximately 43,000 articles have been published in various scientific mega-journals. Whereas this sector has been largely dominated by PLOS One between 2006 and 2012, from 2013 a growing number of Open Access journals, such as Scientific Reports, entering into this market sector have reduced its concentration, while increasing competition between different mega-journals, as Stephen Pinfeld suggests in his feature article.

The impact of these developments on scientific publishing can be gleaned from the data analysis by Heather Piwowar and her colleagues that, based on a sample of articles from the Web of Science for the period between 2009 and 2015, indicates that, in terms of the share of articles published based on different Open Access models out of the total output for this period, biomedical research, mathematics and clinical medicine have more than 50% of their papers published in Gold, Green, or hybrid Open Access journals. This study also indicates that Open Access articles have higher citation levels than closed-access papers, while showing that articles published based on Green and hybrid Open Access models have the highest average citation levels, as compared to other publishing models.

In this respect, regardless of their respective models, Open Access journals can be expected to increase the visibility of research findings, which can make them preferable as publication venues to non-Open Access journals that are protected by paywalls and whose impact factors serve as indicators of their purchase-worthiness for universities and libraries.

This can be demonstrated by Open Mathematics that was re-launched as a Gold Open Access journal in 2014. Thus, in the context of its transition to Gold Open Access, taking full effect in 2015 only, between 2013 and 2015 its submission and publication numbers have experienced a decline from 693 to 382 and from 156 to 86 respectively, while demonstrating sustained growth in the following years.

Its submissions rose by 43% in 2016 and 30% in 2017, while its output of published papers grew by 21% in 2016 and 34% in 2017. In 2017, Open Mathematics has received 709 submissions, while publishing 140 articles. This dynamic is reflected in more than doubling of its impact factor from 0.405 in 2014 to 0.831 in 2017.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Art and Maths Workshop, University College London (UCL), London, England, UK, March 21, 2014 | © Courtesy of UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences/Flickr.

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