“This month we look at the possible effects of the new OSTP Public Access policy on the value of the scholarly publishing market. We also suggest some ways that publishers can meet the challenges ahead….
At this stage it is not possible to predict the specific approaches the various federal agencies will choose. The policy does not rule out publication in hybrid journals and the economic impact assessment discusses the notion of publication charges. Issues around licenses, manuscript types, and manuscript location, are left open as well as requirements around data.
The models below consider a general case: What might happen if “open” content in some form is good enough to replace subscriptions? And is there an upside if the newly open content were paid for in some way? …
The OSTP’s Economic Impact Statement (issued along with its new policy) puts this proportion at between 6.7% and 9.1% of global output. Our own analysis suggests a figure between 6.6% and 7.2%. …
Specific publishers will find their situation different to the broad market averages. One difference will be the share of their papers arising from US federally funded research. Delta Think has worked with publishers, predominantly US-based, where federally funded research accounts for 30-50% of their publications. A second difference is the size of the gap between the lower revenue generated per open access article, and the higher revenue generated per subscription access article. For many publishers, the difference is less than the market average. So as the balance of their publication output shifts towards OA, their subscription revenues won’t fall as quickly as market averages….
A few other important drivers are not immediately obvious from the charts:
The US’s share of global output is declining slowly: 1 percentage point or less per year, depending on the data sources used. Therefore, the effects of the OSTP policy reduce over time. (Which is why the charts head back towards the horizontal axis.)
Pricing policies are key. Understanding reduction in market value could help publishers to set price increases and help funders and buyers to understand likely cost implications. Publication fees can be optimized across a portfolio of journals and subscription prices raised further to offset softening revenues.
As the difference in revenues per article between OA and subscription narrows, then the effects become less profound. We have long noted that publication charges are likely to rise to achieve parity with subscriptions.
The models show revenue changes compounded over time. They don’t show annual revenue increases generated by increasing APC prices….”