The Fragility and Presence of Government Funding for Open Access Initiatives Redefines the Role Global Publishers Play

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-11

In retrospect, the year 2017 demonstrates the staying power of Open Access, despite possible budget cuts, such as in the United States. Likewise, international foundations, Open Access publishing platforms, and European academic institutions have been fueling the transition to Open Access models internationally in 2017, which creates incentives for publishes to redefine their role in the journal publishing market.


Despite apprehensions to the opposite, in the United States Open Access funding has remained largely untouched in 2017. As important as the free dissemination of scientific knowledge and information may be, without sustainable economic models backing their operations, Open Access initiatives can fold on short notice, if their governmental funding runs out. In many countries, the status quo of Open Access can be more fragile than what meets the eye suggests, since, as is the case in the United States, Open Access mandates may exist in weak form only or lack legal footing that can make them not uniformly binding or unsustainable in the long run.

The implications of this for Open Access journals or platforms is that, if their models do not involve charging fees from either scientific authors or those who access their content, they can be expected to become acquisition targets, such as the purchase of Digital Commons and Bepress by Elsevier in 2017. Developments such as this redefine the role of journal publishers in the Open Access market, as rather than operators of competing, subscription-based models, they become providers of Open Access solutions and negotiating parties in the course of transitions to Open Access, such as Elsevier in Germany.

By Pablo Markin

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

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