As part of LIBER’s work on the OpenAIRE project, we recently commissioned Research Consulting to produce an economic analysis study of the Open Access publishing market. The resulting report is now available for download.
“We took the EU Council’s goal of achieving immediate open access as the default by 2020 as the starting point for our work,”said Rob Johnson, director of Research Consulting and the lead author of the report.
“One unavoidable conclusion is that even getting close to this target will be very, very difficult. The proportion of immediate open access content has been growing by about 15% per annum, but it still only accounts for about 5% of the global market for academic journals.”
The report identifies several roadblocks that stand in the way of full and immediate OA. These fall into three main categories:
- Lack of incentives for authors and publishers to move to OA. Authors want to publish in high impact factor journals because that’s how they reach their readers and because – very often – existing incentive structures make it difficult for them to do otherwise. At the same time, established publishers lack a commercial imperative to flip their business model to OA. Disruption from sources like Sci-Hub and growth in offsetting deals are starting to change things. For the moment, though, it doesn’t make much business sense for publishers to move to OA.
- Absence of an effective market. The subscription market is dominated by a few large publishers, and it is difficult for new actors to acquire market share. We need to create more transparency around the deals concluded with publishers, because this offers the prospect of lower prices and a more level playing field for the new breed of OA publishers. At the same time, we need to be careful not to put all our eggs in one basket. Replacing subscription deals with offsetting deals could allow us to increase access quickly, but ties up publication budgets. We therefore need to support other approaches alongside this, including ‘born OA’ and APC-free journals.
- Infrastructure. This includes the technical infrastructure for OA publishing and archiving (improving institutional and national archives, supporting OA publishing platforms, creating machine-readable metadata). A subset of this is the monitoring infrastructure, which enables all actors to check progress and to enforce policy mandates. Finally, we need ways to increase the efficiency of open access at an operational level – making life easier for authors and support staff working in institutions, funders and publishers.
The findings of the report form the starting point for a roadmap towards a more sustainable and competitive market, and will soon be enhanced by a Roadmap document, developed with input from an expert workshop to be hosted by LIBER in The Hague on 20 April. Registrations for this workshop are still open.
In addition to the final report, an Annex is also available giving a mid-term evaluation of the OpenAIRE Post-grant OA Pilot. In addition, the report and the accompanying dataset are both available on Zenodo.