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. 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.

Springer Nature and Projekt DEAL extend partnership | Research Information

In 2019 Springer Nature and Germany’s Projekt DEAL signed what was at the time the world’s largest, most comprehensive, transformative agreement (TA). Encompassing 2,500 journals with the expectation of enabling 13,000 articles to be published open access (OA) each year, it reflected the commitment of both parties to the principles of open science and advancing the transition to OA.

The success of the agreement can be seen in that 97% of affiliated authors with eligible universities and institutions in Germany took advantage of the opportunity to publish their articles OA without needing to pay an article processing charge. In addition, in 2021 the agreement saw over 16,000 (+13% on 2020) new research articles in Springer Nature’s fully OA and hybrid journals made freely and openly accessible for scholars everywhere – 60% of all the articles published under DEAL agreements (1).


Open access agreement for Egypt | Open research | Springer Nature

“Starting 01 January 2022, if you are a corresponding author affiliated with a participating Egyptian institution, you may be eligible to publish open access in our journals with fees covered under a Transformative Agreement plus fully OA agreement. 

This agreement will cover all the public, private and national universities, as well as the research centers related to the ministry of higher education and scientific research and all other governmental ministries in Egypt. …”

R Discovery partners with Springer Nature to create an open-access content bank for global researchers – CACTUS

“R Discovery, a Cactus Communications (CACTUS) brand, has partnered with Springer Nature, global academic publisher, to help broaden the reach of open access (OA) content to the global researcher community. The inclusion of Springer Nature’s OA portfolio into R Discovery means that the platform offers its over 1.4 million researchers access to high-quality OA content in over 32,000 journals worldwide across a breadth of subject areas….”

Which Factors Drive Open Access Publishing? A Springer Nature Case Study

Open Access (OA) facilitates access to articles. But, authors or funders often must pay the publishing costs preventing authors who do not receive financial support from participating in OA publishing and citation advantage for OA articles. OA may exacerbate existing inequalities in the publication system rather than overcome them. To investigate this, we studied 522,664 articles published by Springer Nature. Employing statistical methods, we describe the relationship between authors affiliated with countries from different income levels, their choice of publishing (OA or closed access), and the citation impact of their papers. A machine learning classification method helped us to explore the association between OA-publishing and attributes of the author, especially eligibility for APC-waivers or discounts, journal, country, and paper. The results indicate that authors eligible for the APC-waivers publish more in gold-OA-journals than other authors. In contrast, authors eligible for an APC discount have the lowest ratio of OA publications, leading to the assumption that this discount insufficiently motivates authors to publish in a gold-OA-journal. The rank of journals is a significant driver for publishing in a gold-OA-journal, whereas the OA option is mostly avoided in hybrid journals. Seniority, experience with OA publications, and the scientific field are the most decisive factors in OA-publishing.

Springer Nature’s revised application for Jisc-approved transformative journal status accepted | Jisc

Following feedback from the content expert group on its author facing communications and workflows, Springer Nature submitted a revised application for Jisc-approved transformative journal status for their Nature Research and Palgrave titles. 

The application, which includes revisions to the author journey and communications, has been reviewed and approved by the content expert group. Once the changes have been implemented, expected to be 8 August 2022, the costs of APCs for papers submitted to the Nature Research and Palgrave journals after 1 April 2022 will now be eligible for?UKRI OA funds. As institutional OA funds are limited, authors should continue to discuss submissions and publishing options with their institution. 


Open-Access Publishing Expands at U. of California

“In another victory for the open-access movement, the University of California system and Springer Nature have signed an agreement that will allow scholars in the UC system to make their work in Nature titles available free.

The idea that published research should be free to read has gained steam over the past two decades. Many academics say the trend helps democratize access to the latest scholarship, both for researchers and for interested parties outside academe. But figuring out how to pay for that access remains a challenge, as the latest negotiations in the UC system demonstrate.

The agreement, which begins on August 1 and runs through 2024, is an extension of a deal the two signed in 2020. Since then, authors in the UC system have tripled their number of open-access articles in journals operated by Springer Nature, one of the umbrella companies that control much of the academic-publishing world. The new deal expands the open-access provision to the prestigious Nature titles, a goal both parties set in their initial agreement. It’s also the first agreement to include open access for Nature journals in the United States….”

Academics concerned over UK universities’ Springer Nature deal – Research Professional News

“Issues cited include how to reach open access and “eye-watering”

article processing charge

A group of prominent academics have written an open letter voicing
concern about UK universities negotiating a deal with Springer Nature
for access to its journals in 2023 and beyond.

The letter, which has 35 signatories, takes issue with transformative
deals, which are ways for publishers to move from traditional
subscription journals to an open-access model.

Lead author Stephen Eglen, a computational neuroscience professor at
the University of Cambridge, told Research Professional News that
legacy publishers such as Springer Nature seem to be pushing for gold
open access, which usually means article processing charges (APCs)
must be paid, despite there being “many other more sustainable

But academics in the letter have suggested that money spent on

publishers such as Springer Nature “could be better invested instead
in building ethical scholarly communications infrastructure or diamond
open-access models”, where there are no fees for readers or authors….”

Nature portfolio now included in UC-Springer Nature open access agreement – Office of Scholarly Communication

“Beginning August 1, 2022, UC corresponding authors publishing in the Nature portfolio of journals will be able to publish their articles as open access with financial support from the UC libraries. The agreement applies to a broad range of Nature hybrid and fully open access journals, including Nature, the Nature research journals, Nature Communications and Scientific Reports.

Under the agreement, the UC libraries will pay the first $1,000 of the article processing charges (“APCs”) for articles by UC corresponding authors that are accepted for publication in hybrid and open access Nature journals covered by the agreement. The remainder due on each APC will be covered by the authors themselves, utilizing research funds available to them. Authors without research funds to pay the remainder of the APC may publish their articles on a subscription basis. …”

Preprints as a Language-Editing Funnel | Jeff Pooley

Preprint platform Research Square exists to drive business to English-language editing factory American Journal Experts (AJE), which launched the platform in 2018. Preprint authors receive a Language Quality Score, and are then shilled to spend hundreds of dollars on AJE services:

What does my Language Quality Score mean? AJE used machine learning to develop a tool that assesses your language quality. The model was trained using more than 100,000 academic papers in all areas of study that had been scored by professional editors based on the quality of English. Your Language Quality Score reflects how the quality of English in your paper compares to the other papers in our dataset. Scores take into account all aspects of readability in English, including grammar, consistency, and clarity.

This is grim stuff: leveraging English-language hegemony to squeeze Global South scholars, by way of preprinting’s corporate capture.

Exactly no one should be surprised that Springer Nature acquired a majority stake in Research Square/AJE in 2018, the year the preprint platform launched.



Update zu DEAL |

2021 wurden über 27.000 Publikationen im Rahmen der DEAL-Verträge in Zeitschriften von Wiley und Springer Nature veröffentlicht. Mehr als 95 % der Autor:innen nutzten dafür die Open-Access-Option, was zu einem Anstieg des OA-Anteils bei den deutschen Publikationen geführt hat1. Da der Vertrag mit Wiley zum 31.12.2022 endet und die reguläre dreijährige Laufzeit des Vertrags mit Springer Nature ebenfalls zum Jahresende abschließt, verhandelt die DEAL-Gruppe nun wieder mit den Verlagen. Einen Einblick in die Verhandlungen gab es kürzlich auf verschiedenen Wegen1,2, was wir zum Anlass nehmen möchten, die derzeitigen Pläne zur Weiterführung der Verträge im Folgenden zusammenzufassen.


State of Open Data survey 2022

“Springer Nature, figshare and Digital Science would like to invite you to participate in our survey on sharing data and open data.


The aim of the survey is to find out about global experiences and attitudes towards sharing data, how you handle research data, the challenges that you and your institution face in regard to data, and its impact on workload and resources.”