Third of all global research articles now published Open Access, says STM

Third of all global research articles now published Open Access, says STM

Around a third of all global research articles are now published Open Access, according to the latest report by the Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM).

The STM says recent strong growth in OA publishing is projected to continue with some countries, such as the UK, on track for 90% of their researchers’ output to be published that way within a year due to business model and operational innovations.

However the report warned that, while the longer-term impact of Brexit remains unclear, "it has already likely exacerbated a fall in UK university income from foreign students". It added: "Research funding in the UK will be challenged by the loss of EU funding streams. Brexit could also lead to reduced international collaboration for authors as well as an increase in subscription and acquisitions prices due to customs issues."

Other key takeaways, based on data from Outsell, showed the global scholarly publishing market continued to grow steadily in 2018, increasing from a value of $27bn (£19.5bn) to $28bn (£20.3bn) in 2019. In 2020, the year of the global pandemic, the global STM market contracted to $26.5bn (£19.2bn). However, Outsell forecasts the global market will regain its pre-pandemic value of $28bn by 2023.

China remains the world’s most prolific producer of publishable research output, but India, the Russian Federation, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Australia have all shown strong growth since 2018.

Data from Simba Information also predicted journals will overtake books as the largest social sciences and humanities publishing activity by 2025. 

Philip Carpenter, interim chief executive officer of STM, said: “Despite the challenges presented both before and during Covid-19, there are multiple indications of growth and resilience across the scholarly publishing sector. Last year (2020) will likely be a record year for submissions due to the increase in research and articles related to Covid-19—many of which publishers provided free access to, ensuring that relevant and timely research and data reached the widest possible audiences as quickly as possible.”

He added: “Despite unprecedented world events, scholarly publishing is clearly rising to the challenges of our rapidly changing world, offering sustainable solutions underpinned by technology and innovation whilst striving towards our fundamental mission to advance trusted research worldwide.”

Lucy Derges, policy and research manager at STM, commented: “It is exciting to see the first of this new series of STM reports published and I am looking forward to preparing the next supplement which will focus purely on Open Access and will be launched in spring 2022. STM is delighted to have worked with leading experts from across the industry to create what we hope will be a useful, free to access, summary of the global market in 2021."