The standards of service provided to authors by the new dedicated Gold Open Access publishers compare well with those provided by the traditional subscription publishers which offer "hybrid" open access options. The reliability of the openness of individual articles, the range of open access reuse licenses available and the costings of Article Processing Charges levied are all gauged as being better in the dedicated OA market.
The “offset deals” offered by traditional subscription publishers, where the APC charges levied to authors’ institutions are balanced against subscription charges, so that the total overall payments made by universities for publishing in and subscribing to particular journal deals do not rise out of proportion through “double dipping”, are assessed as both “unscalable” and “unsustainable”. The administrative burden which such offsetting systems confer on both publishers and academic institutions are counted as significant and as unnecessarily complicating the OA market structure.
The effect of non-cancellation clauses in subscription publishers' “big deals” in consistently squeezing smaller publishers out of the journals market completely also draws comment, with effects on over-concentration of the academic publishing sector, restriction in the range of journals available, and depletion of funds for undergraduate text purchasing being specifically mentioned.
Despite all these advantages, however, progress towards total open access provision in UK academic journals remains slower than might have been expected, with over 60% of UK research still being behind subscription barriers in 2015 according to the Research Information Network,
Comment is also made regarding the OA-isolation of the UK and the Netherlands being the only countries so far to prioritise the Gold Open Access route, with most other countries and international organisations favouring the Green Open Access route of depositing post-prints or embargoed final versions of papers in institutional or subject repositories. Academic publishing is very much an international market and if demand for the Gold Open Access market is restricted to just 2-3 countries, its chances of significant world market penetration will remain small and progress slow.
In conclusion, the report recommends several strategies by which the lack of Gold OA market penetration could be addressed, including:
- restricting the extent to which RCUK Open Access grants can be used for publication in hybrid journals,
- development of better journal quality indicators to encourage authors to publish more of their important papers in dedicated Gold OA journals, and
- ensuring that small society publishers are provided with effective mechanisms for staying in the Open Access publishing market.
Comments can be made on Twitter using #OAjournalsmarket
Academic Engagement Group
Hugh Owen Library