The Mega-Journal Market Grows, as Traditional Journals Lose Ground and Emerging Areas Launch Open Access Titles

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-23

As University College London mulls publishing its own mega-journal, it is expected to join the bustling marketplace of Open Access journals. This can be due to the community-building effects of Open Access journals that become increasingly prized, whereas traditional journals see their hold on scholarly communities weaken. While support infrastructure in the Open Access sector continues to develop, cutting-edge research fields call to life specialized Open Access outlets.


The Open Access market in the United Kingdom (UK) marks a milestone as august University College London (UCL), originally founded in 1826, has announced its planned launch of an Open Access mega-journal, to compete with PLOS One and Scientific Reports. This effort also seeks to emulate the success of Collabra, a mega-journal operated by the University of California Press. Rather than being scholarly periodicals narrowly conceived, mega-journals act as broad platforms for publishing scientific output. Though their peer-review practices may be questioned, Open Access journals increasingly gain a positive word of mouth in the academic community, due to their streamlined publication procedures, experimental peer review models and unrestricted accessibility.

As large foundations throw their weight behind Open Access publishing platforms, the role of mega-journals as anchors for diverse scientific communities is also increasingly recognized, especially given the frequently interdisciplinary nature of cutting-edge research. This, however, takes place on the background of the growing saturation and competition in the mega-journal market, as new market entrants drive the article output of incumbent Open Access mega-scale publication venues, such as PLOS One, downward. Nevertheless, Open Access journals in highly specialized sub-fields of research, such as npj Digital Medicine jointly launched by the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Springer Nature, continue to make their entry into the scholarly publishing market, as large publishers continue to add Open Access titles to their journal portfolios to make them stand out globally.

By Pablo Markin

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

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