The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges | Zenodo

Butler, Leigh-Ann, Matthias, Lisa, Simard, Marc-André, Mongeon, Philippe, & Haustein, Stefanie. (2022). The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges (Version v1). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7057144 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 large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, the so-called oligopoly of academic publishing. Since the early 2010s, these five academic publishers control more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles indexed in the Web of Science (WoS), expanding their market power through acquisitions and mergers. While traditionally their business model focused on charging subscriptions to read articles, they have now shifted to OA, charging authors fees for publishing. These APCs often amount to several thousand dollars, excluding many from publishing on economic grounds. This study computes an estimate of the total amounts of APCs paid to oligopoly publishers 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 the oligopoly of academic publishers $1.06 billion in publication fees in the 4-year period analyzed. Of the 505,903 OA articles analyzed, 60.9% were published in gold OA journals, 8.6% in diamond (gold with APC=$0) and 30.5% in hybrid journals. Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals, for which publishers already charge subscription fees. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the largest 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 the majority of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.

Determinants of article processing charges for hybrid and gold open access journals | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

While the number of hybrid journals has increased with the conversion from subscription journals, article processing charges (APCs) have not been examined as frequently as gold open access journals. This study compared the factors affecting APCs for hybrid and gold open access journals by formulating a charge equation.

Design/methodology/approach

This study examined the APCs for 1,354 hybrid and gold open access journals in the Springer imprint. Using the ordinary least squares method, it investigated the determinants of charges, including the relationship between subscription prices and APCs for hybrid journals.

Findings

The results revealed that the charges set by hybrid journals were higher than those set by gold open access journals by US$1,620, after controlling for other variables. A reason could be the oligopolistic market structure of the leading publishers. Although the publisher imprint set the APCs based on the journal characteristics, the difference in the determinants of the charges between the two journal types may be due to the business models specific to the journal types.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggested that policymakers must consider the market power of leading publishers to establish a healthy scholarly communication market.

Originality/value

This study examined the relationship between subscription prices and charges for hybrid journals as well as the determinants of charges for both journal types, considering various characteristics of individual journals.

The oligopoly’s shift to open access publishing: How for-profit publishers benefit from gold and hybrid article processing charges | Proceedings of the Annual Conference of CAIS / Actes du congrès annuel de l’ACSI

Abstract:  This study estimates fees paid for gold and hybrid open access articles in journals published by the oligopoly of academic publishers, which acknowledge funding from the Canadian Tri-Agency. It employs bibliometric methods using data from Web of Science, Unpaywall, open datasets of article processing charges list prices as well as historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for journals published by Elsevier, Springer-Nature, Wiley, Sage and Taylor & Francis to estimate article processing charges for open access articles published between 2015 and 2018 that acknowledge funding from the Canadian Federal funding agencies CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC, as well as grants jointly administered by the Tri-Agency. During the four-year period analyzed, a total of 6,892 gold and 4,097 hybrid articles that acknowledge Tri-Agency funding were identified, for which the total list prices amount to $US 27.6 million.

 

Analysing Open Access publishing beyond Plan S: Motivations for publishing in Hybrid and Bronze OA formats | Zenodo

Abstract:  Recently, the discussion of OA publishing has been dominated by the consideration of potential effects of Plan-S on scholarly publishing. Part of the debate centred on the academic freedom and autonomy of researchers to self-select in which journals they publish their findings, as journals labelled as Hybrid under Plan-S are no longer eligible for publishing (except in cases where publishers agree to transformative agreements on their portfolios). The publisher’s own choices on opening publications, through Bronze OA, is also in need of further debate. With that in mind, this study made a first attempt to understand motivations behind Hybrid and Bronze choices, especially in face of Plan-S restrictions….

Files are currently under embargo but will be publicly accessible after September 7, 2022.

 

Monitoring the transition to open access through its mode of implementation: A principal component analysis of two surveys | PLOS ONE

Open access (OA) is transforming scholarly communication. Various modes of OA implementation have emerged, which reflect the complexity surrounding OA development. This study aimed to examine this development from the perspective of how OA is implemented. The sample comprised 2,368 randomly selected articles published in 2013 and 2,999 published in 2018 indexed in the Web of Science. We also conducted searches in Google and Google Scholar in 2015 for articles published in 2013 and in 2020 for articles published in 2018. Selected articles were categorized as either an “OA article,” “electronic subscription journal article,” or “not available online.” OA articles were classified into 10 implementation modes: Gold, Hybrid, Delayed, Bronze, Subject Repositories, Institutional Repositories, Personal/Institutional Websites, Academic Social Networks (ASNs), Others, and Web Aggregator. Overall, 56.5% of all sampled articles in 2013 were available for free on at least one website in 2015, while 61.7% of all sampled articles in 2018 were freely available on at least one website in 2020. Concerning implementation mode, ASNs had the highest frequency (44.4% in 2015 and 56.0% in 2020), followed by Subject Repositories (35.0% in 2015 and 39.6% in 2020) and Gold (24.1% in 2015 and 37.4% in 2020). To obtain an overview of OA implementation, we conducted principal component analysis with OA implementation mode as the variable for both 2015 and 2020. The first principal component was the axis indicating the number of overlapping OA implementations for each article in 2015 and 2020, while the second principal component was the axis orthogonal to the first, which was difficult to interpret. We identified three groups of OA implementation in each plot of the principal component scores for articles in 2015 and 2020; however, the OA implementation of each group differed in 2015 and 2020. This diversity reflects the respective positions of various stakeholders regarding OA.

 

 

Transformative? | Clarke & Esposito

“cOAlition S has released a report analyzing the first year of the Transformative Journal (TJ) program. As a reminder, TJs (not to be confused with TAs, or Transformative Agreements) are individual hybrid journals that have agreed to (try to) show an “annual increase in the proportion of open access (OA) research content of at least 5% points in absolute terms, and at least 15% in relative terms, year-on-year.” The journal must also publicly agree to flip to OA when 75% of its research content is published OA. These promises allow the hybrid journal to be considered compliant with Plan S and eligible for article processing charge (APC) funds.

 
The report shows that more than half (56%) of the 2,304 journals in the program did not meet their first-year OA targets. The coalition has extended its requirements another year, keeping all TJs in the program (although they must meet year 2 targets calculated as if the journal had met its year 1 numbers). 
 
Removing 56% of the journals would result in 1,290 fewer publication venues for Plan S-funded researchers, which is perhaps part of the reason for the extension. 

Notably, many of the TJs have failed to meet another cOAlition S requirement: a public statement showing how the presence of OA articles has reduced the subscription price of the journal. Elsevier and Springer Nature (182 and 1,714 TJs, respectively) instead have offered “a more generic, anti-double dipping statement,” which apparently has been accepted for 2021, but will not fly for 2022. This raises the question of how a publisher would practically be able to show such a metric. …”

 

It is not transformation if nothing changes – Science & research news | Frontiers

“The substantial benefits of open access (OA) publishing are within our reach, but legacy publishers are employing commercial tactics to delay the necessary transition.

This paper exposes several of the negative, often unintended, consequences of “transformative agreements” (TAs).  It argues that these agreements, sold as a pathway to open science, in fact reinforce the status quo.  TAs maintain paywalled access as the standard financial model in publishing.  They are negotiated in the absence of basic competition and procurement rules.  And by concentrating resources into silos for a few incumbents only, they pose a threat to the diversity of the publishing ecosystem, locking out innovators, including the very players who demonstrate the benefits of OA publishing.  Deployed as a commercial tactic, these agreements will stall the establishment of a transparent and competitive marketplace for professional editorial services….:”

Does Open Access Really Increase Impact? A Large-Scale Randomized Analysis

The Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA) has been a major topic of discussion in the literature over the past twenty years. In this paper, we propose a method to constitute a control group to isolate the OACA effect. Thus, we compared citation impact (MNCS) of 2,458,378 publications in fully OA journals to that (weighted MNCS) of a control group of non-OA publications (\#10,310,842). Similarly, we did the same exercise for OA publications in hybrid journals (\#1,024,430) and their control group (\#11,533,001), over the period 2010-2020. The results showed that there is no OACA for publications in fully OA journals, and that there is rather a disadvantage. Conversely, the OACA seems to be a reality in hybrid journals, suggesting that a better accessibility in this context tends to improve the visibility of publications. The lack of OACA for publications in fully OA journals is to be expected, as a great proportion of OA journals are newly created and less attractive to high-impact senior researchers.Another striking result of this paper is the fall of the OACA from 2016. The citation advantage fell from 70% to 9% between 2016 and 2020 (for publications in hybrid journals). We wonder if this fall is linked to the increase in the notoriety of pirate sites (eg Sci-Hub) from 2016. In other words, the democratization of pirate sites instantly cancels the positive effect of OA publication insofar as the question of access to scientific content no longer arises.

How open are hybrid journals included in nationwide transformative agreements in Germany?

We present hoaddata, an experimental R package that combines open scholarly data from the German Open Access Monitor, Crossref and OpenAlex. Using this package, we illustrate the progress made in publishing open access content in hybrid journals included in nationwide transformative agreements in Germany across journal portfolios and countries.

Full article: Platelets and open access – a new era dawns

“For these reasons, we can now confirm that the decision has been made to transform Platelets into a fully open access journal. This will be implemented during a period of transition over the rest of 2022, with the switch completed by the beginning of 2023. It will mean that, going forward, all articles accepted for publication in Platelets will attract an Article Processing Charge (APC) and will be fully and freely accessible to all readers. We are pleased that the proposed APC is lower than it has been previously for our journal and is overall a rate competitive with journals of similar scope and stature….”

Hybrid Open Access Dashboard | SUB Göttingen

Overview: Many academic publishers offer hybrid (hybrid OA) open access journals, where some articles in an otherwise subscription-based publication are made openly available. Recently, some funders have pushed for a transformation towards such a hybrid OA business model, where publishing houses are paid for open access publication. To draft, monitor and evaluate such transformative agreements, libraries and their consortia need data on the uptake, costs and impact of hybrid OA.

{HOAD} is a data product to meet this need. The dashboard is packaged as an extension to the R Project for Statistical Computing (an R package), released under an open source license and developed in the open at http://github.com/subugoe/hoad. The package has several components:

APIs to expose data from public bibliometric sources relevant to hybrid OA.
ETL pipelines (extraction, transformation, loading) and accompanying visualisations to answer hybrid OA business questions.
A web application to explore hybrid OA data, including customisation for individual journal portfolios.

The project is based on data gathered by the Crossref DOI registration agency and the OpenAPC initiative. The package is at the Göttingen State and University Libary as part of the DFG-funded eponymous Hybrid Open Access Dashboard project.

An early prototype of the application, including the interactive web frontend is available at https://subugoe.github.io/hoad/.

 

ACS Publications commits its entire hybrid journal portfolio to become Plan S-aligned Transformative Journals | Plan S

“cOAlition S is pleased to announce that the American Chemical Society (ACS) has committed its full portfolio of more than 60 hybrid journals to become Plan S-aligned Transformative Journals.

ACS publishes 12 completely open access journals, which are already compliant with Plan S requirements. The commitment for the rest of its portfolio to become Transformative Journals will allow authors even greater flexibility in their choice of publication outlet….”

How does the growth of a particular publisher’s open access content factor into the relative value of a Big Deal? Part 2: The Findings – Delta Think

“Some final thoughts: (1) Overall usage was a stronger influence on the change in value than the small changes in the proportion of hybrid OA article usage. (2) Despite the range of research activity levels across our institutions, there wasn’t much difference in the proportion of the open versus controlled usage across the site-licensed institutions for either publisher. (3) COVID likely affected these trends, but precisely how was unclear. Did lockdown increase the usage or limit it? Did it affect our two publishers differently? We have no ‘non-COVID’ control unfortunately. (4) If the impact of transformative agreements on the rate of hybrid OA article output influenced these trends, the impact was quite small. Still, with more libraries negotiating transformative agreements, growth in the proportion of OA articles should accelerate. As long as usage in publisher packages continues to grow, cost per controlled use will increase more quickly than cost per use. This new cost per controlled use metric should help libraries track the return on investment from their journal package subscription payments as a growing proportion of underlying articles are free to read.”