The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How the Big Five Academic Publishers Profit from Article Processing Charges | Quantitative Science Studies | MIT Press

Abstract:  This study aims to estimate the total amount of article processing charges (APCs) paid to publish open access (OA) in journals controlled by the five large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley between 2015 and 2018. Using publication data from WoS, OA status from Unpaywall and annual APC prices from open datasets and historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, we estimate that globally authors paid $1.06 billion in publication fees to these publishers from 2015–2018. Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the most revenue from OA ($589.7 million), followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million) and Sage ($31.6 million). With Elsevier and Wiley making most of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.


News & Views: Market Sizing Update 2023 – Delta Think

“We estimate the OA segment of the market to have grown to just over $2bn in 2022. This is strong growth over the previous year, although it is significantly lower than the year before. The overall scholarly journals market showed very little growth during the same period….

We estimate that the OA market grew to just over $2bn in 2022.

2022’s OA market grew by a little over 24% from 2021. This is around two thirds of the growth we saw in 2021.
We estimate the total scholarly journals market to have increased by 0.4% in 2022, compared with its long-term low single-digit growth of 2%-4%.
Given the exceptionally high growth in 2020 and 2021, a correction in 2022 was expected. We saw this in the whole market. It is less obvious in the OA segment as its growth remains strong; however, OA’s growth was significantly lower than it had been previously.
Growth in hybrid revenues was a major factor driving growth in OA, although all types of OA saw improved revenues per article, which helped to drive growth.
Currency effects contributed to reduced growth. Many publishers operate in non-USD currencies, which lost value against the US dollar in 2022. If we exclude currency changes, the OA market would have grown by over 29% (an additional 5 points) in 2022, and the overall journals market would have grown at 3.6% (around 8x its headline growth). This suggests that underlying growth in the OA market has slowed slightly, and that of the overall market is growing in line with long-term trends.
Growth in OA remains significantly above that of the underlying scholarly journals market.
Just over 49% of all scholarly articles were published as paid-for open access in 2022, accounting for just under 20% of the total journal publishing market value.
We anticipate a 2022-2025 CAGR (average growth each year) of 13% in OA output and 13% in OA market value….

Finally, OA’s share of value (just under 20% in 2022) has always lagged behind its share of output (just over 49% in 2022). If this were to continue, then the overall value of the market will reduce as more OA is adopted. However, the gap is narrowing. In 2022, as in previous years, we saw the value of OA grow faster than its output, suggesting that yields from OA articles continue to increase. This is a critical dynamic if the value of the market is to be maintained. While publishers have been actively pursuing activities that diversify revenue and manage costs for years, their efforts to maintain value remain critical….”

Funders in joint open access initiative – Kungliga biblioteket – Sveriges nationalbibliotek –

“The research funders Swedish Research Council, Forte, Formas, and Vinnova have made a strategic decision on a funding model to support publication with publishers that exclusively publish fully open access journals.


A large portion of Swedish research is published with immediate open access. However, the output of the major, traditional publishers is still dominated by expensive hybrid journals with a substantial percentage of paywalled articles.

Fully open access publishers present an important alternative to the traditional publishers. These four funders have now agreed, as a first step, to jointly cover publishing costs with open access publishers during 2024 and 2025.

The goal is for as many publishers as possible to be included in this initiative, which will be implemented gradually over the coming years. Negotiations have begun during the fall, and an important part of these agreemens is that all researchers affiliated with any of the organisations participating in the Bibsam Consortium will be covered. In line with the conclusions of the EU’s Council of Ministers, stating that the costs of scholarly publishing should not burden either readers or authors, with this initiative, the funders contribute to promoting an open access publishing system….”

No Journal is an Island

“This paper presents a case study of the John Donne Journal (JDJ) as a means of examining the state of open access journal publication in the humanities (with a focus on Renaissance studies) and the current models available for moving a print journal not only into electronic access, but diamond (sometimes called “platinum”) level open access. Of particular concern are the resourcing options for open access publishing in a sector where material and financial supports have long been in decline….”

Open access | Journals | Oxford Academic

“Open access (OA) is a key part of how Oxford University Press (OUP) supports our mission to achieve the widest possible dissemination of high-quality research. We work closely with our publishing partners to ensure that we offer open access in a sustainable way that supports research publications for their communities and OUP offers authors an array of publishing options for authors to make their research available to all and comply with funder mandates….”

News & Views: What questions should your organization ask during times of change? – Delta Think

“The world of scholarly publishing continues to evolve.

Generative AI is currently trending, but new technology is nothing new. Remember the Information Superhighway? Web 2.0? The iPad revolutionizing the way we consumed content? The rise of XML?
Last summer’s OSTP memo made headlines. A zero embargo on open content is a significant and potentially disruptive change. But new policies have continued to shift: Plan S, the NIH deposit mandate, China’s publishing evolution, the Wellcome Trust’s early OA policies, to name a few.
Open Access was once an unproven model that many considered unlikely to be financially viable. Born-OA publishers now account for one fifth of content produced and have been growing an order of magnitude faster than the underlying market.
The APC-based OA business model is now itself being disrupted. Big OA publishers’ growth is slowing. Transformative Agreements and their like might move OA closer to the Big Deal. New Subscribe to Open launches are increasing even as calls for more equity are making publishers rethink their APC models entirely.
Operations change too. Publishers that once outsourced and divested their production suppliers have been acquiring publishing platforms and services companies as part of their competitive strategy….

Any change has the potential to disrupt the status quo. Another key set of questions therefore falls under the “what might break” category. If a particular policy was enacted or adopted, how might the revenue or cost change? Developing our example of looking at a policy promoting “open” publishing, you might ask:

What subscriptions might be at most or least risk?
Are there multiplier effects? For example, bundles or collections of journals that might be much less attractive if just a few key journals were removed or made open.
Are we clear about the value of subscriptions and of OA activity… by journal/collection/subject?
Are there other sources of value, such as advertising or licensing? How much are they dependent on paywalls or publishing fees?
At what threshold might we need to flip a journal from hybrid OA to fully OA?
At what threshold does a subscription journal become unviable?
How do we measure thresholds: Pricing? Volumes of output? Usage?…”

Wiley journal editors resign en masse, fired chief editor speaks – Retraction Watch

“Two-thirds of the associate editors of the Journal of Biogeography, a Wiley title, have resigned in a dispute with the publisher, and more resignations are likely, according to those involved. 

Most of the resignations, reported first by Times Higher Education, were effective immediately, but a portion of the associate editors set August 28 as their effective date in hopes Wiley may negotiate with them about their concerns….

The Journal of Biogeography is not fully open access, but charges APCs of $4,800 for authors who wish to make their articles freely available.

Such fees are “excessive,” and “not affordable,” said Krystal Tolley, one of the associate editors who put in her resignation for the end of the month. Tolley is based in South Africa, and said she and other researchers in the Global South “just don’t have those kinds of funds.” 

Wiley and other major publishers often waive fees for authors in low-income countries, and “transformative agreements” in which funding agencies or universities pay publication fees rather than authors….”

News & Views: Transformative Journals – An Experiment in OA Acceleration – Delta Think

“In its recent annual update about Transformative Journals (TJs), cOAlition S noted that many journals had not met their targets, for the second year in a row, and were being removed from the list of approved TJs.

Since most journals consistently missed the annual targets, we wondered if the originally included journals, at their demonstrated rates of growing OA content, could have eventually met the goal of 75% open access. Was this a timely move by cOAlition S to cut journals or was it premature?…

To date 30% of journals have met their targets or will very likely meet them within 5 years from now (2028)
56% will take more than 5 years from now
14% of journals are unlikely ever to exceed 75% OA output based on current OA growth rates…

We must also remember that cOAlition S didn’t select these journals – they selected themselves. If the goal was to see what kind of uptake was possible and then to see how journals included in a TJ program would perform, this feels like a reasonable experiment. Could a program like this provide another “tool in the toolbox” for accelerating OA? …”


The State of the Scholarly Journal Publishing Industry in 2000 | SpringerLink

Abstract:  By 2000, scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journal publishing was a well-established component of the entire academic and research sector publishing high quality and “must have, need to know information” journals with high citation impact indices for an expanding number of universities, research centers, academics, researchers, and students. STM journals traditionally required paid annual subscriptions; and many libraries complained about the high subscription fees causing a “serials crisis” for hard-pressed libraries. The development of the internet sparked interest in preprints, digital journals, hybrid journals, and gold OA journals. And many publishers “bundled” a cluster of journals, a procedure called the “big deal,” which sparked a backlash. However, overall, the future looked rather promising for STM publishers at the start of the twenty-first century.


Open Access for Open Science | EMBO reports

“The EMBO Journal and EMBO Reports have provided an OA option to authors since 2007. The broad scope and global reach of both journals means that authors have diverse levels of support for OA publication and can thus choose their mode of publication accordingly. A key principle at EMBO Press is—and will remain—equity. We interpret equity as providing realistic access both to readers and authors without compromising on the value that the EMBO Press journals add to the scientific process through peer review, editorial selection, editing, quality control, and curation. The costs of quality publishing can appear high—prohibitively so for some authors. In an effort to add transparency to the costs of the publishing process, EMBO Press has published its finances since 2019 (, which does not in fact include investment into open science Projects such as Review Commons and Source Data. The costs derive partially from our involved selection and quality control processes. For example, at EMBO Press editors spend about 17?h on a paper that ends up being published and just under 2?h on most papers that are not peer-reviewed (

Elective OA (often referred to as “Hybrid Journals”) is thus a pragmatic mechanism for the community to choose the mode of publication based on their own priorities, support, and mandates. Beyond ensuring access to all authors, the elective OA model also accommodates three other challenges with the “author pays” OA journal model through subscription income: …”

SUP collective funding for library-led open access publishing — Scottish Universities Press

“Scottish Universities Press (SUP) was conceived as a collaborative, institution-led approach to exploring the benefits of open access publishing, with a particular focus on the shift towards open access mandates from funders of research.

SUP is owned and managed by the 18 participating libraries through SCURL and operates on a not-for-profit basis, investing any surpluses generated back into the Press. The objective was to develop a Scotland-wide solution, providing researchers across institutions with a clear and cost-effective route to publishing open access. We were also keen to better understand the costs associated with publishing, and to scope the potential for savings associated with open access and realising economies of scale through collaboration. Through SCURL’s work in coordinating the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library (SHEDL), we had a strong basis for collaborative working and confidence in the benefits of shared services.

The first collective challenge we faced was in raising the funds to get SUP off the ground. We explored external funding possibilities but found that approach was not an obvious fit with most existing funding streams available to us in libraries.

SCURL member libraries, therefore, agreed to fund the start-up through a subscription paid from existing library budgets. We were also fortunate to secure a small Innovation and Development grant from the Scottish Library and Information Council.

Keeping costs low was a priority as our member libraries emerged from the pandemic into a precarious funding climate. Library budgets alone are not sufficient to meet the entire cost of providing a high-quality open access publishing service.

SUP therefore opted for a hybrid model involving authors (or their funders/institution) paying a per-book production charge in addition to the annual subscriptions. The latter covers core costs such as staffing and platform hosting, which is provided by the Edinburgh Diamond service from the University of Edinburgh. The subscription income does not cover any of the costs associated with book production (e.g., copyediting, typesetting, design, distribution, marketing) so the production charge fills that gap….”

Significant Acceleration of Humanities and Social Sciences Open Access Through Taylor & Francis and Jisc Transformative Agreement – Taylor & Francis Newsroom

“The power of transformative agreements (TAs) to drive the transition to open access (OA), especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences, is revealed in a new report published by Taylor & Francis. Accelerating open access in the UK explores in detail the first two years of Taylor & Francis’ OA partnership with the Jisc consortium and how it has boosted the global impact of research from UK institutions.

Supporting Humanities and Social Sciences researchers to publish OA

One of the report’s standout findings is the benefit of the TA for Humanities and Social Science (HSS) researchers. In the last two years, 7,900 articles by HSS authors at participating UK institutions were published OA in Taylor & Francis journals, more than six times the number in 2019-20. This is a significant result because HSS researchers usually find it harder to publish open access, having less OA funding than their peers in STEM….”

Open(ing) Access: Top Health Publication Availability to Researchers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries – Annals of Global Health

Abstract:  Introduction: Improving access to information for health professionals and researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is under-prioritized. This study examines publication policies that affect authors and readers from LMICs.

Methods: We used the SHERPA RoMEO database and publicly available publishing protocols to evaluate open access (OA) policies, article processing charges (APCs), subscription costs, and availability of health literature relevant to authors and readers in LMICs. Categorical variables were summarized using frequencies with percentages. Continuous variables were reported with median and interquartile range (IQR). Hypothesis testing procedures were performed using Wilcoxon rank sum tests, Wilcoxon rank sum exact tests, and Kruskal-Wallis test.

Results: A total of 55 journals were included; 6 (11%) were Gold OA (access to readers and large charge for authors), 2 (3.6%) were subscription (charge for readers and small/no charge for authors), 4 (7.3%) were delayed OA (reader access with no charge after embargo), and 43 (78%) were hybrid (author’s choice). There was no significant difference between median APC for life sciences, medical, and surgical journals ($4,850 [$3,500–$8,900] vs. $4,592 [$3,500–$5,000] vs. $3,550 [$3,200–$3,860]; p = 0.054). The median US individual subscription costs (USD/Year) were significantly different for life sciences, medical, and surgical journals ($259 [$209–$282] vs. $365 [$212–$744] vs. $455 [$365–$573]; p = 0.038), and similar for international readers. A total of seventeen journals (42%) had a subscription price that was higher for international readers than for US readers.

Conclusions: Most journals offer hybrid access services. Authors may be forced to choose between high cost with greater reach through OA and low cost with less reach publishing under the subscription model under current policies. International readers face higher costs. Such hindrances may be mitigated by a greater awareness and liberal utilization of OA policies.