Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-28
As Australia seeks to increase the efficiency of the investment it makes into scientific research, Open Access promises to maximize its benefits.
Given that subscription-based publication models not only tend to lock up access to articles and books behind paywalls, but also transfer copyright and intellectual property to large publishers as content distributors, governments are beginning to expect a larger return on their financial investment into academic research by switching to Open Access. While publishing at prestigious journals is critical for research careers and university rankings, a growing awareness exists that a significant share of fees paid for journal subscriptions goes to waste. Some studies argue that approximately 21% of all scientific articles published between 1900 and 2015 have never been cited. Moreover, in the year they are published, close to 80% of journal papers are not cited at all, whereas this statistic drops to approximately 10% fifteen years after article publication, according to findings based on papers indexed by the Web of Science in recent decades.
However, other studies indicate that almost 50% of academic articles ever published are not read by anyone beyond their authors, journal editors and peer-review participants. Moreover, some researchers suggest that up to 90% of academic papers are never cited at all. In other words, according to these findings, journal subscriptions may be making measurable contributions to the advancement of science, such as in the form of citations by other scholars, in about 5% of cases. Although the journal publishing market estimated to generate revenues to the tune of 10 billion USD has been growing at the annual rate of between 3% and 4%, the primary beneficiaries of this apparent growth in scientific productivity are likely to be large traditional publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell and Springer Nature, demonstrating stellar financial performance, such as profit margins upwards of 30%, in recent decades.
By Pablo Markin