Paywall Watch

“Paywall Watch is a website dedicated to monitoring and documenting notable problems at academic publishers.

TL;DR we are like Retraction Watch, but we focus on incompetent errors made by academic publishers. 


Unlike most multi-billion dollar industries there is virtually no regulation in the academic publishing market. Publishers can get away with seemingly anything. Poor service, poor ethics, and outrageous prices are a common feature of the market. We hope the aggregation of content on this website will empower funders, authors, readers, subscribers, research institutes and libraries to make better choices in future when it comes to entrusting scholarly research outputs with digital service providers.

Specific types of incompetence to be documented here include:

  1. Paywalled open access articles (whereby the original publisher should be making the article open access, but instead is observed to be charging people to use or read the article)
  2. CopyWrong (whereby a publisher incorrectly claims copyrights that they do not have) 
  3. Other Significant Errors in Service Provision (e.g. losing the full text of articles, losing supplementary data, missing article content such as mathematical equations or figure images)…”

Open and Shut?: Realising the BOAI vision: Peter Suber’s Advice

Peter Suber’s high-priority recommendations for advancing OA.

Be Bold, Go for Gold! | PLOS Biologue

“From the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) meeting in 2002 to the present day, Open Access has come a long way, and this week we celebrate the 10th annual Open Access Week! This year’s focus spearheaded by SPARC is around “Open in order to…“ with the goal of highlighting the benefits of Open Access. PLOS has published another post on our efforts for Open Access Week, and so here it seems a good time to consider the nuances of the various flavours (colours) of Open Access available to researchers today and what they are Open in order to achieve.”

Open access research | Revista Pesquisa Fapesp

“Brazil stands out on the international landscape when it comes to open access, a movement launched in the early 2000s with the aim of making scientific output freely available online. According to data compiled by Spanish research group Scimago, 33.5% of the Brazilian articles indexed in the Scopus database in 2016 were published in journals whose content is free to read online as soon as it is published, under a model known as the “golden road.” This is the largest proportion among the 15 nations with the highest volume of scientific output recorded on Scopus. Brazil is also top of the list of nations with the highest number of open access scientific journals (see charts).”

Study Suggests Publisher Public Access Outpacing Open Access; Gold OA Decreases Citation Performance – The Scholarly Kitchen

“A recent study, out as a preprint, offers something of a muddled bag of methodological choices and compromises, but presents several surprising data points, namely that voluntary publisher efforts may be providing broader access to the literature than Gold or Green open access (OA), and some confounding shifts in claims of an open access citation advantage.”

Growth of hybrid open access, 2009–2016 [PeerJ]

“Hybrid Open Access is an intermediate form of OA, where authors pay scholarly publishers to make articles freely accessible within journals, in which reading the content otherwise requires a subscription or pay-per-view. Major scholarly publishers have in recent years started providing the hybrid option for the vast majority of their journals. Since the uptake usually has been low per journal and scattered over thousands of journals, it has been very difficult to obtain an overview of how common hybrid articles are. This study, using the results of earlier studies as well as a variety of methods, measures the evolution of hybrid OA over time. The number of journals offering the hybrid option has increased from around 2,000 in 2009 to almost 10,000 in 2016. The number of individual articles has in the same period grown from an estimated 8,000 in 2009 to 45,000 in 2016. The growth in article numbers has clearly increased since 2014, after some major research funders in Europe started to introduce new centralized payment schemes for the article processing charges (APCs)….”

David Prosser, From here to there: a proposed mechanism for transforming journals from closed to open access

Abstract:  A major barrier to the greater take-up of an open access model for journal publishing has been the concern of many journal owners that they will not easily be able to migrate from the current subscription-based model to open access. This paper presents a potential migration path which should significantly reduce the financial risk to journal owners, while allowing them to offer open access to their authors.

Financial and administrative issues around article publication costs for Open Access

“How are authors of journal articles paying for Open Access (OA) fees or Article Processing Costs (APCs)? What is the administrative burden for authors? And do their research organisations have an accurate overview of all these payments?

A better understanding of such authors’ perspectives on APC payments will support the development of an optimal communication and administrative strategy with the aim of encouraging authors’ usage of existing APC-funding mechanisms.

For these purposes, Knowledge Exchange has carried out a study among authors at six research organisations. In total, 1,069 authors participated in online surveys focused on their 2015 articles published in OA journals or in subscription journals that offer the option of publishing individual articles on OA for an additional fee, so-called hybrid journals.”