COVID-19 to Accelerate Transition to Open Access Publishing

Press Release
Jul 7, 2020

Rockville, Md. – July 7, 2020 – As the world grapples with a pandemic that has brought death and economic devastation, the crisis has demonstrated the value of open access (OA) to research articles, but also the need for a larger open infrastructure to share methodology, data and results more broadly—this according to the most recent report from media and publishing intelligence firm Simba Information.

The report, Open Access Journal Publishing 2020-2024, found that revenue from open access journals account for approximately 6% of the global scholarly journal market and is growing at double-digit rates year over year. Titles and articles added to the Directory of Open Access Journals are growing even faster.

“This crisis has reinforced the benefits of open scientific communication. Publishers immediately removed barriers to accessing COVID-19 related research and researchers say they have benefited from an unparalleled level of data sharing about the novel virus,” said Dan Strempel, senior analyst with Simba Information’s business and professional group. “The nature of this crisis—and others we face like climate change—will accelerate the transition to an open system and will lead all constituencies to examine their role in bringing that about.”

As support for the movement grows, it could bring with it increased political will to implement tougher open access mandates and policies meant to accelerate the transition to open access, ala Plan S. At the same time, development of infrastructure to collect and disseminate methodologies, procedures data and results is likely to emerge as a new focus of the OA movement post pandemic. For this transition to be successful, it will require more collaboration between researchers, funders, governments, institutions, reviewers and publishers than had existed prior to the outbreak.

This collaboration will have to take place in a difficult economic environment. Fallout from the coronavirus restrictions is going to impact research funders, universities and library systems both on the government-funded side and the privately-funded side.

Publishers will be facing the concurrent trends of having to review more submissions (some noted monthly article submissions grew more than 20% in February through April 2020), but fight for every dollar in what will likely be a depressed funding environment.

Travel bans have already impacted enrollment for the fall semester for international students seeking to come to private institutions in the U.S. Even if the restrictions are lifted, students face financial impacts, and many will not be able to afford it. Then there is the question of whether they would enroll anyway, given there is real fear about the severity of the ongoing outbreak, particularly in the U.S.

With limited funding resources, institutions and research funders would need to rethink their funding policies and prioritize grants for research that demonstrates both societal relevance and impact. This may lead to funding bias and further imbalance between STM subjects and arts and humanities subjects.

Open Access Journal Publishing 2020-2024 provides detailed market information for this segment of scholarly journal publishing. It analyzes trends impacting the industry and forecasts market growth to 2024. The report includes an in-depth review of 10 leading OA publishers, including Springer Nature, Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, Frontiers, MDPI, PLOS, Hindawi, Taylor & Francis, Wolters Kluwer and others.

About Simba Information:

Simba Information is widely recognized as the authority for market intelligence in the media and publishing industries. Its extensive information network delivers top quality, independent perspectives on the people, events and alliances shaping the industry. Simba routinely assists clients and the press with publishing and media industry analysis. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please direct all media inquiries to:

Dan Strempel

Int'l: +1.240.747.3091
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