# One Journal Publishing Company is More Profitable Than Netflix – Library News

“If your article was published within the last few years, there’s a good chance it was in a journal owned by one these four companies: Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer and Taylor & Francis. In the early 1970s, they published 15% of the researched produced in the world*. Today, it’s up to 53% of the world’s research.*

Over the years, these publishing companies have merged and acquired smaller publishers, in an effort to own even more of the journal landscape. The lack of competition allows these companies the ability to charge a high price, often not allowing universities to buy journals outright, instead only letting universities rent journals through subscriptions. Universities often pay millions to rent access to research their own faculty conduct.

The biggest contender in the journal publishing market is Elsevier. With 3,000 journals and publishing nearly half a million articles per year, RELX, the parent company of Elsevier, had revenues of US $9.8 billion in 2019. Elsevier’s profits account for about 34% of RELX’s total profits. You can read more about these oligopolies (market shared by a small number of producers or sellers) and how they are contributing to the unaffordability of journals in the Vox article The War to Free Science. …” # Pengene bak vitenskapelig publisering | Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening From Google’s English: “Most doctors relate to the pharmaceutical industry with a healthy skepticism. Scientific publications are also something all doctors and researchers have to deal with every single day, but knowledge of and skepticism of the scientific publishing industry seems to be less. The topic has become more relevant, as everyday publication has changed radically in recent decades. The Research Council of Norway has also, like 14 other countries, approved Plan S. This means that research funded by funds from the Research Council announced after 2021 must be published in open scientific journals (open access) ( 1 – 3). How does this change scientific publishing, and what will the industry itself have to change? The purpose of this article is to draw attention to existing problems with scientific publication and new problems created with open access and Plan S…. The most important thing we as users of the system can do is to be aware of the actual conditions and meet the publishing houses, journals and scientific publications we read with a healthy skepticism. With increased attention, the professional communities can put pressure on the industry and the authorities. This has already led to changes in Plan S….” # Pengene bak vitenskapelig publisering | Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening From Google’s English: “Most doctors relate to the pharmaceutical industry with a healthy skepticism. Scientific publications are also something all doctors and researchers have to deal with every single day, but knowledge of and skepticism of the scientific publishing industry seems to be less. The topic has become more relevant, as everyday publication has changed radically in recent decades. The Research Council of Norway has also, like 14 other countries, approved Plan S. This means that research funded by funds from the Research Council announced after 2021 must be published in open scientific journals (open access) ( 1 – 3). How does this change scientific publishing, and what will the industry itself have to change? The purpose of this article is to draw attention to existing problems with scientific publication and new problems created with open access and Plan S…. The most important thing we as users of the system can do is to be aware of the actual conditions and meet the publishing houses, journals and scientific publications we read with a healthy skepticism. With increased attention, the professional communities can put pressure on the industry and the authorities. This has already led to changes in Plan S….” # Relx continues deal spree after spending nearly £800m this year | Financial Times “With no end date for the pandemic in sight, many smaller participants in the events industry are facing bankruptcy. However Relx has been helped by its more diverse portfolio of subscription-based businesses, with events only contributing to 16 per cent of group revenue last year…. “The bulk of Relx’s business is in subscriptions and that is holding up very well,” said Sarah Simon, analyst at Berenberg….” # RELX PLC (RELX) Q1 2020 Earnings Call Transcript “STM delivered underlying revenue growth of 1% in the first half, with growth in electronic revenues of 4%, partly offset by a higher-than-historical rate of decline in print revenue of 17%. In primary research, both subscription renewal completion rates and new sales are in line with recent years so far this year. Growth in article submissions for both our subscription and open access journals accelerated, with a total of 1.3 million article submissions in the first half. Submissions to our subscription journals grew by over 25%, and submissions to our expanded open access publishing program, which now includes over 430 dedicated journals, almost doubled for the second year in a row. Databases and tools continue to drive growth across market segments through content development and enhanced functionality…. The growth in open access, the rapid growth is — and the growth rate we talked about in submissions too that they have doubled now in the first half again for the second year in a row. Those are submissions to our stand-alone open access journals and not counting the — what’s going on in our submission journals because when you submit, you don’t indicate your payment model. So the stand-alone open access is growing very rapidly, and that’s therefore the majority of the growth. You said in our subscription journals, which you also access sort of open access sponsored articles, as you would refer to as hybrid journals, just many, a couple of thousand, it’s a very, very small portion that are open access articles. I mean order of magnitude, we’re talking about low single-digit percent as an overall ratio, right? It’s a few percent, right? So it’s very small. It’s growing, but it’s not growing at the same rate nearly as the stand-alone open access journals…. STM and R&BA delivered underlying adjusted operating profit growth in line with or slightly ahead of the underlying revenue growth, with cost action taken in reaction to the slower revenue growth compared to the full-year last year…. Onto margins. Although STM’s underlying profit growth was in line with underlying revenue growth, margins were higher as they benefited from exchange rate movements, including on the hedge book…. We have also continued to make progress on our key strategic and operational priorities with our primary focus on the organic development of increasingly sophisticated analytics and decision tools supported by selective acquisitions…. We think of ourselves as a service provider in the STM industry, and we think of ourselves as a service provider across a wide range of product sets. As you have noticed, it seems, again, that most of the questions here seem to be about academic primary research subscriptions to the academic market, which is a bit below half of the STM division. But we really focus on all the different tools, data sets and analytics for science and research across the world….” # Covid-19 Shows Scientific Journals Like Elsevier Need to Open Up – Bloomberg “One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it. This response to a global pandemic is heartening and may well speed that pandemic to its end. But after that, what happens with scientific communication? Will everything go back behind the journal paywalls? Well, no. Open-access advocates in academia have been pushing for decades to make more of their work publicly available and paywall-free, and in recent years they’ve been joined by the government agencies and large foundations that fund much scientific research. Covid-19 has accelerated this shift. I’m pretty sure there’s no going back. …” # The costly prestige ranking of scholarly journals | Ravnetrykk Abstract: The prestige ranking of scholarly journals is costly to science and to society. Researchers’ payoff in terms of career progress is determined largely from where they publish their findings, and less from the content of their scholarly work. This fact creates perverted incentives for the researchers. Valuable research time is spent in trying to satisfy reviewers and editors, rather than spending their time in the most productive direction. This in turn leads to unnecessary long time from research findings are made until they become public. This costly system is upheld by the scholarly community itself. Scholars supply the journals with time, serving as reviewers and editors without any paycheck asked, even though the bulk of scientific journals are published by big commercial enterprises enjoying super profit margins. The super profit results from expensive licensing deals with the scholarly institutions. The free labour offered, on top of the payment for the licensing deals, should be viewed as part of the payment to these publishers – a payment in kind. Why not use this as a negotiating chip towards the publishers? If a publisher asks more than acceptable for a licensing deal, rather than walk away with no deal, the scholarly institutions could pull out all the free labour offered by reviewers and editors. # John Wiley & Sons: It’s Time To Pound The Table – John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE:JW.A) | Seeking Alpha How Wiley and Sons is Positioned Against Open Access John Wiley & Sons is a mainly digital business. According to their 2019 annual report (Pages 25-27) the plurality of their earnings come from their research division where online academic journal subscriptions are their bread and butter. In fact, their reliance on online journal subscriptions is shown by the observation that it contributes more than half of their profits for their research segment. This sector also has continuously seen a decrease over the past 2 years. This decline is likely related to the growth of the open access publishing movement going on in academia. John Wiley and Sons understands this movement as well and has taken steps to accommodate. Between 2018 and 2019, they’ve increased their open access journal revenue by 30%. Where does this money come from though? It just so happens that authors have to pay a fee to publish their papers in Wiley and Sons online journals. These fees range anywhere between$500-\$2000 fee per publication. Another avenue of revenue from their open access journals is that they contain advertisements.

Regarding Open Access, Wiley currently offers two models of Open Access that is at the author’s choice. A fully open access journal or a subscription journal offering called OnlineOpen is called Gold. The other option, Green, is free to the author, but allows for a 12 to 24-month embargo period. Wiley cites in its 2019 10-K that the hybrid open access is only available to authors that are publishing in the majority of the company’s academic journals are able to make their articles available through Wiley’s OnlineOpen. This is a network effect in play, if you want to publish in a particularly respected journal, you must access it via the Wiley tollroad. Not only that, the as stated below by Wiley and Sons, the open access journals cover a wide array of disciplines as per their 2019 10-K ….”

# Academic Publishing and the Future of Open Access : Optometry and Vision Science

“Unfortunately, sanity, clarity, and insight about the future of academic publishing are hard to come by—the future is highly uncertain. If I had to say which way the momentum is shifting, it is toward open access and a more binary division between very large and small publishers, with fewer midsize publishers. That probably means there will be some additional industry consolidation and possible acquisitions. Journals affiliated with academic societies will be pressured to find sufficient subscription or other revenue to support their journals. Alternatively, author charges or some viable mix of subscription and page charge revenues will sustain them. Publishers will be increasingly pressured to serve the interests of authors as well as the interests of their funding agencies. The prospect of 38% annual profits is likely gone, and publishers will be pushed to further innovate in how they produce, distribute, and market scientific knowledge to maintain their relevance and market share. It would be interesting if scientific articles were treated like digital music. If a unifying force were capable of bringing the biggest publishing houses to the table to negotiate reasonable fees for libraries, authors, and the broader public, this could truly transform the world’s access to scientific knowledge….”

# How the academic publishing oligopoly skews debates on the cost of publishing | Samuel Moore

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Financial matters have always been an area of dispute within OA debates, particularly over how much publishing should cost and how much profit should be returned to shareholders. Some people advocate for a more efficient publishing process (whereby an individual article is cheaper to produce) or a transparent market to inform purchasing decisions, while others argue for an entirely non-profit space or a restriction on the profiteering of large commercial publishers. Both of these are ideological arguments that either reflect faith in market outcomes to produce efficient results or distrust in markets and the need for interventions to generate healthier publishing cultures. (of course, this is not a simple binary for many people but a broad generalisation.)

Yet what gets lost in the debates about the cost of publishing is the nuance around what publishing actually is and who publishers actually are. Publishing isn’t a specific practice by a certain kind of organisation, but instead reflects a multitude of practices, business models, formats, political modes, and so on. But this diversity is obscured by the fact that publishing is also a highly concentrated industry. The skewed debate exists not just because publishing means a range of different things, but also because 5-6 publishers have a market share of roughly half of the entire academic publishing industry. This means that the way in which many researchers interact with publishers is largely influenced by the oligopoly, even though publishing represents a plurality of practices.

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