The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Open Access Transitions on Library Budgets in Britain and Germany

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-08

As recent media reports indicate, a significant impact of Open Access transitions on university and library costs related to scientific journal subscriptions can primarily be expected in the long term, if no concerted measures by academic institutions are undertaken. By contrast, short-term subscription cost reductions are likely to demand contract renegotiations. In both cases, Open Access is an integral part of changing the model based on which the journal publishing market operates.


In a news brief from December 5, 2017, The Times Higher Education has recently recapitulated the key findings of a recent report on the transition to Open Access in the United Kingdom (UK) appearing on December 5, 2017. Based on spending data from a sample of 10 UK universities for the period between 2013 and 2016, this report indicates that journal subscription costs of these institutions have increased by 20% in this time span. In other words, this publication argues that in this period transitioning to Open Access not only has not lead to a significant reduction in university library subscription budgets, but was also accompanied by growing expenditures for both subscriptions that have reached 16.7 million GBP and article processing charges (APCs) which have amounted to 3.4 million GBP in 2016.

Yet, while report authors, such as Michael Jubb, express their concern about the rise in overall journal access- and publication-related costs, disentangling the short- and long-term perspectives on these data could be instructive. More specifically, it is difficult to expect Open Access have a significant effect on journal subscription costs in the studied period, since large publishers, such as Elsevier, have continued to be successful in renewing their journal access contracts with British universities, the growing popularity of Open Access notwithstanding. All things being equal, in the short-term without systemic changes the adoption of Open Access is likely to add to university costs, such as through APCs, especially if these academic institutions do not renegotiate their extant subscription agreements.

By Pablo Markin

The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *