“Each year, Delta Think’s OA Market Sizing analyzes the value of the open access journals market. This is the revenue generated by providers or the costs incurred by buyers of content. This webinar will cover highlights from the 2022 News & Views (released October 18) as well as potential impact scenarios based on the August OSTP Memo.”
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.
“In this article, we consider SCIREA’s revenue in an attempt to estimate how much profit this publisher makes. It is difficult to be precise, as we do not have access to their accounts or their business model, but we estimate their revenue to be USD 151,340, with a profit of about USD 121,072.
We have previously looked at the the number of editors that the publisher SCIREA had on each of its 39 journals, concluding that, on average, each editor handled (much) less than one paper every five years.
SCIREA are a scientific publisher, with a portfolio of 39 journals (as at Jul 2021). We made additional observations in our previous article and, if you would like to know more, we refer you to that article….”
Research Publishing & Platforms rose 9% as reported and at constant currency and 4% excluding acquisitions, driven by strong growth in open access, corporate solutions, and research platforms.
Academic & Professional Learning grew 4% as reported and 3% at constant currency, driven by strong recovery in Professional Learning from prior-year COVID lockdown impacts. This more than offset a decline in Education Publishing due to softer US enrollment and some easing of prior-year COVID-related tailwinds in content and courseware.
“I think it’s relevant to raise some points about the extent that such organizations (including, in my field, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics) rely for their financial security upon the revenues generated by publishing traditional journals and why this is not in the best interests of their disciplines….
When I criticized the exploitative behaviour of IoP Publishing some time ago in a recent blog post, I drew a stern response from the Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, Paul Hardaker. That comment seems to admit that the high prices charged by IOP Publishing for access to its journals is nothing to do with the real cost of disseminating scientific knowledge but is instead a means of generating income to allow the IoP to pursue its noble aim of “promoting Physics”.
This is the case for other learned societies too, and it explains why such organizations have lobbied very hard for the “Gold” Open Access some authorities are attempting to foist on the research community, rather than the far more sensible and sustainable approaches to Open Access employed, for example, by the Open Journal of Astrophysics….
The other problematic aspect of the approach of these learned societies is that I think it is fundamentally dishonest. University and other institutional libraries are provided with funds to provide access to published research, not to provide a backdoor subsidy for a range of extraneous activities that have nothing to do with that purpose. The learned societies do many good things – and some are indeed outstandingly good – but that does not give them the right to siphon off funds from their constituents in this way. Institutional affiliation, paid for by fee, would be a much fairer way of funding these activities….”
“At STM, we promote the contribution that publishers make to innovation, openness and the sharing of knowledge and embrace change to support the growth and sustainability of the research ecosystem. As a common good, we provide data and analysis for all involved in the global activity of research. For the past 15 years, we have produced the STM report which has explored the trends, issues and challenges facing scholarly publishing. This latest iteration sees the adoption of a new format for the report, with a wealth of industry-leading data and insights presented across an annual selection of ‘supplements’ – each providing compelling snapshots on specific aspects and characteristics of the industry. The next issue will cover Open Access and Open Research, which remain a key area of focus for STM and its members as a means to advance knowledge worldwide. This first supplement in the new series – ‘STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics and Market Size’ shines a light on the scale and shape of scholarly publishing and provides updated figures covering 2018 onwards. We would like to thank all the contributors for their input, advice and insights….”
“Taylor & Francis has reported a 5% increase in revenue to £559.6m for 2019 (2018: £533.2m), with underlying revenue growth of 2.4%. Adjusted operating profit rose 10.5% to £218.1m (2018: £197.4m), an underlying rise of 3.6%.
Parent company Informa said Taylor & Francis had benefitted from “solid subscription renewals, strong momentum in Open Access and steady performance in advanced learning products” to deliver “robust” underlying revenue growth while positive currency tailwinds contributed to higher operating margins….”
“Time may be running out for the Public Library of Science (PLOS).
The San Francisco-based, non-profit open access (OA) publisher released its latest financials, disclosing that it ran a US $5.5 million dollar deficit in 2018 on $32M dollars of revenue. In order to cover this loss, it dug deep into its savings and sold off nearly $5M in financial investments.
This is not the first time the publisher spent more than it earned. Indeed, the last time PLOS made surpluses was 2015, when it had $30.6M in the bank. By 2017, PLOS’ savings had been cut nearly in half to $17M, and fell again to $11M in 2018. At the same time, 2018 salaries and other employee compensation went up by $1.8M (8%) from 2017, despite publishing 11% fewer papers….”
“Also the statement that potential profits are used to benefit science seems legitimate, but what exactly do we really know about the business model of learned societies and their journals? To answer these and other questions ScienceGuide spoke with editors and publishers deeply involved with the business of learned societies, and asked them about the value of learned society journals, and what they know about the underlying business model….
Van Ommen starts out to say that he is totally on board with open access, “but Plan S is reckless and ill-conceived.” ….
A similar line of reasoning moved the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to seek out the commercial publisher Elsevier as their partner for a newly launched journal. Former president of the Royal Academy and current president of the (ISSCR) Hans Clevers was involved in the negotiations with the publisher on launching the open access journal Stem Cell Reports….
All of this provided a perfect opportunity for commercial publishers to either co-opt or completely take over these society journals. In 2004 a survey by the Association Learned & Professional Society Publishers found an estimated half of the learned society journals, especially the smaller ones, were run by third party commercial publishers. A 2013 also found that most of the learned societies have little information about how their income is derived….
Fletcher is somewhat baffled by the fact that learned societies don’t know about the full picture behind the business model of co-publishing. …
Although the level of detail in the annual reports of learned societies is too low to get a good estimate on costs and benefit, Kramer is positively surprised by the level of transparency. “If you’d want to have an overview like this for most commercial publishers you’d have a very hard time.” She points out that under Plan S journals are urged to be even more transparent on the way in which costs are derived. “Hopefully we’ll get an even better insight into the cost model of publishers.”
In the revised implementation of Plan S transparency is still a key conditional for compliance. In a previous interview with ScienceGuide president of the Dutch research funder NWO Stan Gielen indicated that in order to comply with the Plan S requirements journals would have to be upfront on how their APC is compiled. “We’re not going to require full transparency from every journal, but if an APC is ludicrously high, we’ll definitely ask questions about their business model.” …”
“Traditional academic publishing has been rumoured to be imperilled for decades now. Despite continued criticism over pricing and a growing open access movement, a number of recent reports point to the sector’s resilience. Francis Dodds suggests this is partly attributable to the adaptability of academic publishers but also highlights attitudes of researchers surprisingly committed to the status quo as another key factor. However, other aspects of researcher behaviour may prove more disruptive in the long term, with greater collaboration leading to the growing informal use and exchange of free material between researchers….”
“We suggest that the academic publishing industry is as resistant to change as the music publishing industry was. But the music industry lost its ability to protect the status quo of excessive profits through sustained assault by people who used the latest technology to distribute music through alternative channels. Once it became easy to access music for free (albeit by means of questionable legality), the price of supply through legitimate sources had to fall. And fall it did, without obvious deleterious effects on the production of music itself. We do not suggest that people engage in outright piracy of academic works, not least because the penalties for perpetrators can be severe. But it may be that we could be more sympathetic to the ‘trading’ of academic knowledge, just as the Grateful Dead allowed people who made tapes of their concerts to trade them on a not-for-profit basis (Fraser and Black, 1999): ‘the legally regulated world of intellectual property rights and copyright enforcement actions is replaced by a self-regulating enterprise in which commercial interests do not influence the values of the group or subculture’ (Fraser and Black, 1999, p.33). Thus it is that doing nothing to prevent the trading of electronic copies of our academic work could act to circumvent the perils of engagement with the academic publishing industry.”
[For the background controversy surrounding this piece, see the June 5, 2014 article in Times Higher Education.]