Charting the Future of Science: Reforming scientific publishing for a new era of open knowledge – International Science Council

“Given the vital importance of these processes, the International Science Council has undertaken a rigorous review1 of current practices so as to identify contemporary needs for science publishing and to assess the extent to which the current system serves those needs. The Council’s studies led to development of eight essential principles for modern scientific publication, which were endorsed by over 90% of the membership present at its 2021 General Assembly. The principles are listed in Paper One, The Key Principles for Scientific Publishing accompanied by an analysis of the extent to which they are observed operationally….

The conclusion of this exercise has been that the current operation of the science publishing system falls far short in the principles that are essential to its effective operation, and that significant reform is needed. This conclusion is all the more important in light of the current global commitment to a new era of open science, in which new forms of openness are believed to be vital in enhancing the trustworthiness and utility of science as an essential human enterprise. The achievement of this open science vision depends fundamentally upon an effective, globally pervasive knowledge network based on the Council’s eight principles….

The ideal outcomes of reform would be systems that support four basic functions: 

funding of publishing that is internationally coordinated in ways that calibrate national financial contributions through indices of capacity to pay, with no charges for authors or readers; 
standards for publication that incorporate the ISC’s eight principles, and standard setting that is accountable to the international scientific community; 
agreement amongst universities to only use articles published in ways that adhere to these standards when evaluating scientific contributions; 
creating a functional record of the complete output of scientific articles as characterized above, making the record of science freely available to all. …”

Scientists paid large publishers over $1 billion in four years to have their studies published with open access | Science | EL PAÍS English

“For the last half century, scientists have followed the same method to publish their research. For example, a scientist discovers a treatment for cancer, other researchers check that the data is correct, and the final results are published in a study in an academic journal. If it is not published, it is not science. However, in recent years the system has undergone a transformation. It is no longer the readers who pay to read the studies, but the authors themselves who pay for their research to be published in digital journals with open access. Led by German expert Stefanie Haustein, a group of scientists has now calculated the turnover of the “oligopoly” that controls this new market. Using mainly public funds, the scientific community paid the five large publishers $1.06 billion in four years. And according to this estimate, the sum covers only the fees to publish open access studies….

Stefanie Haustein’s team from the University of Ottawa (Canada) has spent “years” collecting data from the period 2015-2018. According to their calculations, Springer Nature took the lion’s share, with $589.7 million, followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million), and Sage ($31.6 million). The fees required for a study to be made available with open access are officially called “article processing charges,” and on average, authors or their institutions have to pay more than $2,500 per study. French sociologist Pierre Bataille refers to the publishers’ charges as “research vampirization.” …

Stefanie Haustein considers it “obscene” that the profit margins of the main publishers “reach between 30% and 40%, well above most industries.” The researcher gives the example of the Dutch giant Elsevier, which last year published 600,000 studies, a quarter of which were open access. Elsevier’s annual income was $3.5 billion, with $1.3 billion in profit, according to its 2022 accounts. “This means that for every $1,000 that the academic community spends on publishing in Elsevier, about $400 go into the pockets of its shareholders,” Haustein explains….

The author warns that these five large publishers have tripled their number of open access studies since 2018 and have increased their prices, so the current expenditure will be well above $1 billion….”

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.


What’s so bad about consolidation in academic publishing? | Samuel Moore

by Samuel Moore

Today’s Scholarly Kitchen blog post is an attempt by David Crotty — the blog’s editor — to quantify the increasing consolidation of the academic publishing industry. Crotty concludes:

Overall, the market has significantly consolidated since 2000 — when the top 5 publishers held 39% of the market of articles to 2022 where they control 61% of it. Looking at larger sets of publishers makes the consolidation even more extreme, as the top 10 largest publishers went from 47% of the market in 2000 to 75% in 2023, and the top 20 largest publishers from 54% to controlling 83% of the corpus.

Quantifying Consolidation in the Scholarly Journals Market

It’s helpful to have more data on the increasing power that a small number of academic publishers hold. Crotty charts this consolidation from the year 2000 onwards, from the concentration brought about by the effects of the Big Deal to the present day where 5 publishers now control 61% of the article output, brought about by the dominant business models for open access based on greater volume and technological scale. The author’s finger is pointed at Coalition S for instigating a ‘rapid state of change’ that allows author-pays open access to flourish.

I’m no fan of open access policies, Plan S especially, and I’m sure that policy interventions play a part in the consolidation at play. There are of course many ways of achieving open access without recourse to author fees, transformative agreements, or technologies that remove human expertise in place of automation and scale. But while there is nothing natural or necessary about the relationship between open access and consolidation, there is a much stronger connection between commercialisation and consolidation. The recent history of academic publishing has been of marketisation and, hence, consolidation.

I always bristle when I read that open access is to blame for the problems with the publishing market, not simply because open access does not have to be a market-based activity (and is better when it isn’t) but more because the explanation is so shallow. It is a position that usually takes as its starting point that the natural and proper way for academic publishing to be organised is as a commercial activity and any intervention that works against this is to blame for the deleterious effects of commercialisation. Publishing is and always is a business (possibly a reflection of the constituents that the Scholarly Kitchen represents), despite the fact that it is exactly the commercial nature of publishing that is the problem.



A social networking site is not an open access repository – Office of Scholarly Communication

“The simple answer is: ResearchGate and do not permit their users to take their own data and reuse it elsewhere, nor do their terms of service permit the library to extract that data on the authors’ behalf.

ResearchGate: “Users must not misuse the Service. Misuse of the Service includes, without limitation: … automated or massive manual retrieval of other Users’ profile data (‘data harvesting’).” “You agree not to do any of the following: … Attempt to access or search the Site, … through the use of any engine, software, tool, agent, device or mechanism (including spiders, robots, crawlers, data mining tools or the like).”…”

Scholar Freedom | Home

“You don’t need to wait months or years to publish your research in journals taking forever to reply because they’re waiting to find reviewers not angry about being unpaid, and then perhaps pay thousands from your own pocket or the public’s to make it free. You upload your work when you believe it is of the highest defensible quality, at low cost to help the platform run, and some for free!

You can get paid by your readers for preprints and publications – unheard of in traditional journals – because we actually value you and believe you should be remunerated for your research. No matter which plan you pick, you set your own prices for all your outputs, and with the approval of co-authors can change them at any time. This gives you full financial freedom and control over your sales plan….

If you select the Premium Plan after our Reparation Profit Scheme (RPS) has opened, you will be seen as a shareholder so will get a piece of the annual profits – a simple and real thank you for choosing to publish on an equity-seeking system. Our blog ‘The prove it again bias’ explains how the RPS will humbly aim to rectify injustices in the way labour is remunerated once we hit critical mass….”

Interview with Robert ‘Bob’ E. Goodin

“The Open Access beat-up has, inadvertently, been the death knell of quality academic publishing, driving a fatal wedge between the incentives of publishers and those of journal editors. There are various different models that publishers are employing to come to grips with the Open Access world, and each of those models has its own implications for what pressures publishers are incentivized to put on the editors of their journals.

Abstracting from particularities, one fact seems to dominate almost all of those approaches, directly or indirectly. That fact is just this. The profits of commercial publishers are increasingly a function of ridiculously large Open Access fees, whether paid by the author, the grant-giver or (nowadays most typically) the author’s home institution or national government through ‘Read and Publish Transformative Agreements’. The way to maximize those profits is to maximize the number of articles a journal publishes – and to do so without regard to quality. (As I have said, given bundling and consortia, no library can unsubscribe to an individual journal of diminishing quality anyway, so a journal’s quality is no longer a commercial concern to publishers seeking to maximize profits.)…”

All Things Must Pass | Research Information

“Andrew Barker and Elaine Sykes reflect on Lancaster University’s shift to an open research culture

We begin this opinion piece with a statement of confidence, ambition and intent: this is the best and most exciting time to be a librarian; universities are progressing towards a new research culture, a culture that puts openness and equity at its centre – and librarians are using our knowledge, skills, relationships and our ambitions to be at the centre of that progressive shift. That shift includes, but is not limited to, the future of scholarly outputs, data, digital scholarship and citizen science engagement opportunities. This piece will outline thoughts from Lancaster University on what we are going to do to support the move to an open research culture, but it also make it clear that the status quo has to change, and we are explicit that now is the time to accept that change and for the sector to work together on a range of activities that cut across the different parts of our sector….”

Shifts to open access with high article processing charges hinder research equity and careers

“We, as Associate Editors (AEs) for the Journal of Biogeography, have serious concerns about the widespread shifts by John Wiley & Sons Ltd (Wiley) and other academic publishers to full Open Access (OA), which appears to be imminent for journals in the Wiley portfolio (Rieseberg et al., 2023) and has been discussed as a possibility for the Journal of Biogeography itself. We commend the philosophy of OA—to make research freely available online, but for many journals that shift to full OA, article publication is accompanied by expensive article processing charges (APCs) payable by the authors (see Laakso et al., 2011; Tennant et al., 2016). This creates a financial burden that falls heaviest on early career scientists and scientists from low- to middle-income countries, erecting barriers to equity in publishing. The typical APC fees for OA range from 2000 to 3500 USD but can even surpass 11,000 USD, while the Journal of Biogeography APC is currently 4800 USD per article. A shift from subscription-based to full OA-based business models with APCs also clearly shifts the economic incentives for journals away from quality and toward quantity. High-throughput and high-output publishing models in academia severely risk lowering research standards and jeopardise the reputation of journals that adopt this practice.

As a way of signalling the depth of our concerns, 85% of the AEs of the Journal of Biogeography recently carried out a work stoppage, during which we refused to handle any new manuscript submissions. We view this as a temporary measure, as a way of encouraging further dialogue between Wiley, the publisher of the Journal of Biogeography, and the chief editorial team charged with ensuring journal quality….

Wiley, the owner and publisher of the Journal of Biogeography, has had a reported annual revenue in recent years of over 2 billion USD per annum with a gross profit margin averaging nearly 70%….”

#BetterPublishing @jbiogeography: I – Journal of Biogeography

“In response to the #Workstoppage by #AssociateEditors of @jbiogeography, the journal’s management at Wiley rapidly issued a largely dismissive reply that resulted in the resignation of deputy editor-in-chief Ceridwen Fraser. We invited Wiley to provide a revised response, but received none. As a consequence, the editorial board has compiled our concerns and called for a dozen issues to be addressed, as described in our answer to Wiley, below….”

Journal editors resign, strike in dispute with Wiley over ‘business model that maximises profit’ | Retraction Watch

The editor in chief of a Wiley journal has resigned, saying the publisher recently has “seemed to emphasize cost-cutting and margins over good editorial practice.” 

Most of the journal’s associate editors are in the midst of a work stoppage protesting the same issues. After Wiley responded to the associate editors in a way they found “troubling,” the editors replied with a list of 12 demands, and a deputy editor in chief tendered her resignation.



IOI 2024 Fund: leveraging networks as key drivers of change | Invest in Open Infrastructure, Jul 13, 2023

“…Through this pilot Fund, IOI intends to:

Partner with at least (3) networks, focusing on networks with a strong existing service relationship to a set of communities or institutions, a public commitment to open research principles, and a specific opportunity for using funds to develop open infrastructure adoption among members
Raise $5-7M USD to support these network collaborations for 3-5 years, providing direct funding and strategic support to enable the adoption of open infrastructure for those networks and their members, with a focus on infrastructures enabling immediate and equitable open access to data and content.
Create a mechanism to expand the pool of funders for open infrastructure, including calling for commercial service providers and others who derive significant value from the open ecosystem to reinvest in the open systems from which they profit….”

Read your open access publishing agreements, or: how you might accidentally give Elsevier or Wiley the exclusive right to profit from your OA article | Authors Alliance

“For open access publications, I’ve unfortunately found this attitude to be especially prevalent because authors tend to think that by publishing on an OA basis, the only contract terms that really matter are those of the Creative Commons license they choose for their article.

That can be a dangerous strategy.  Elsevier and Wiley OA publishing agreements, which have long-standing issues along these lines as noted here, here, here, and here, highlight the problem really well.

Those publishing agreements do provide what many authors want in OA publishing–free online access and broad reuse rights to users. But, if authors select the wrong option, they are also giving away their own residual rights while granting Elsevier or Wiley the exclusive right to commercially exploit their work. That includes the right for those publishers to exclude the author herself from making or authorizing even the most basic of commercial uses, such as posting the article to a for-profit repository like Researchgate or even SSRN. This is not a result I think most authors intend, but it’s hard to spot the problem unless you read these publication agreements carefully….”

Resignation Letter – CPHN

“We, the undersigned members of the Critical Public Health Editorial Board, hereby resign with immediate effect….

Members of the Editorial Board provide unpaid labour to maintain Critical Public Health as a platform for critical scholarship. We do this as service to the larger critical public health academic and practitioner community, and with respect for the collective input of colleagues who founded and published our predecessor, Radical Community Medicine. 

As a 2021 editorial in CPH noted, we believe that a journal can be “both a brand, with a value indicated by the impact factor and the level of income it can generate for a corporate publisher [and] the home of a community of scholars”. However, over the last year or so, it has become increasingly difficult to hold together these two different versions of the journal as Taylor & Francis seek to increase standardisation and efficiency across their titles. 


The new contract and amendment issued to the editors make clear the limited role the publisher sees for the editorial team and board. In reiterating the rights of the publisher to determine the funding model and volume of articles that will be published, we believe Taylor & Francis have significantly eroded our ability to set strategic direction….

The only model offered for ensuring authors can publish open access has been Article Processing Charges (APCs), currently £2700 per research article: an unsustainable cost for research funders and university libraries in high income countries, and an impossible cost for many in less advantaged countries; occasional subsidies do not constitute a viable solution to the much deeper issues of inequity embedded within the profit orientation….”

How Scientific Publishers’ Extreme Fees Put Profit Over Progress | The Nation

“On April 17, the premier journal NeuroImage’s entire editorial team, comprising more than 40 scientists, resigned over the “unethical fees” charged by the journal’s academic publisher, Elsevier. With more than $2 billion in annual revenue, the publisher’s profit margin approaches 40 percent—rivaling that of Apple and Google. “Elsevier has become kind of like the poster child for evil publishing companies,” said neuroscientist Kristen Kennedy, one of the recently resigned senior editors.

Kennedy relies on taxpayer money to study the aging brain. At the University of Texas at Dallas, federal grants help fund the staff, equipment, and experiments in her lab. But this public money, largely from the National Institutes of Health, is being drained by exorbitant publishing fees….”