Open access journal publishing in the Nordic countries

Abstract:  The number of open access (OA) journals and their share of all scholarly journals are usually estimated based on indexing in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). DOAJ’s coverage of OA journals from different regions of the world is, however, far from complete, particularly of journals publishing in languages other than English. Using alternative data sources for identification and manual verification, 437 scholarly OA journals published in the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) were identified, and some key characteristics were studied. Of these, only 184 were indexed in DOAJ. A vast majority of the journals was published by scholarly societies or universities. Social sciences and humanities dominated as topics, and few journals charge authors. National or university-specific OJS portals have played a major role in enabling OA publishing. Around a third of the Nordic scholarly journals are currently OA.

[Riksbankens Jubileumsfond shifts from supporting Plan S to criticism]

In October 2018, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond joined Coalition S. The Riksbankens Jubileumsfond is one of Sweden’s largest private research funders and has for more than a decade worked to support and promote Open Science. Our Board of Directors has unanimously supported the idea of Open Science and Open Access, as demonstrated in our guidelines for OA publishing, adopted in 2010. In November 2018, Plan S was announced as the Coalition’s shared plan for moving further towards the aim ofmaking science open and accessible. Since then, a number of open consultations both internationally and nationally have taken place. As a consequence of observations made in these consultations, the Board ofRJ has on 28 February 2019 decided the following: RJ remains in the Coalition S, but cannot support Plan S in its current form….

To a large extent Plan S has been launched without dialogue with those who are most affected by the Plan. Through this modus operandi Plan S has succeeded to turn researchers who have been in favour of Open Science and Robert Merton’s CUDOS principles against these positions. This is an unfortunate development. The time-frame for implementation of Plan S is generally, among affected researchers, found to be unrealistic, and there are a number of conditions in Plan S which need further clarification or added flexibility. Plan S, as it is now presented, risks affecting the quality ofscientific publishing, including having a negative impact on the career paths of younger scholars. …”

Elsevier profits near £1 billion despite European disputes | Times Higher Education (THE)

The publisher has reported steady growth and profit margins of more than a third but warned of threat to business from open access….

Elsevier has shrugged off a breakdown in contracts with German and Swedish universities to swell its profits to nearly £1 billion in 2018, its latest financial results reveal.

The Amsterdam-based publisher reported an all but unchanged profit margin of 37.1 per cent….

It made £942 million in profits on revenues of about £2.5 billion, according to financial results released on 21 February….”

[Survey on consequences of Swedish cancellation of Elsevier journals]

As you may be aware, Swedish universities and government agencies through the National Library of Sweden and the Bibsam Consortium (the Swedish library consortium) cancelled their agreement with Elsevier 30 June 2018 ( Elsevier has not been able to meet the demands of the Bibsam Consortium:

  • immediate open access to all articles published in Elsevier’s journals by researchers affiliated to one of the consortium’s participating organisations;
  • reading access to Elsevier’s 1 900 journals for participating organisations, and
  • a sustainable price model which makes a transition to open access possible.

How has this affected you?…”

Survey on how the cancelled agreement with Elsevier has affected Swedish researchers, students and government agency users –

How has the cancellation affected Swedish researchers, students and government agency users? Users from the 44 Swedish institutions that subscribed to Elsevier at the time of cancellation are asked to respond to this survey.…”


Elsevier Gets Blocked in Sweden After it Legally Requires Internet Providers to Make Sci-Hub Locally Inaccessible | Open Science

Even though Elsevier, which had failed to sign journal subscription contracts with Swedish university libraries over their demands for Open Access, has won a battle against Sci-Hub, an illegal platform for sharing scientific articles, in local courts in Sweden, Bahnhof, a local internet service provider, both complied with the injunction not to offer access to pirated content and effectively counter-blocks local attempts at browsing the websites of Elsevier and the Swedish court….”

Sweden stands up for open access – cancels agreement with Elsevier

Large science publisher Elsevier does not meet the requirements of Swedish universities and research institutes

In order to take steps towards the goal of immediate open access by 2026 set by the Swedish Government, the Bibsam Consortium has after 20 years decided not to renew the agreement with the scientific publisher Elsevier, as the publisher has not been able to present a model that meets the demands of the Consortium. To be able to make the necessary transition from a subscription-based to an open access publishing system, the Bibsam Consortium requires immediate open access to all articles published in Elsevier journals by researchers affiliated to participating organisations, reading access for participating organisations to all articles in Elsevier’s 1,900 journals and a sustainable price model that enables a transition to open access. The current agreement will be cancelled on the 30th of June.


Swedish researchers publish approximately 4 000 articles per year in Elsevier journals. In 2017 € 1,3 million was spent on article processing charges, on top of the  € 12 million that organisations spend on licensing fees for reading the Elsevier content….

Researchers from participating organisations will continue to have access to articles published during 1995-2017 according to the post-termination terms in the current agreement, however, the publisher will not give access to new subscription-based content that is published after June 30th on the publisher’s platform. Information about alternative ways to access articles can be found here: …”


Heard on the Net: The New Deal May be No Deal

“With the advent of the worldwide financial downturn a decade ago, many libraries, in particular many medium-to-large academic research libraries in North America, found they could no longer afford the escalating costs associated with big deal journal packaging from major academic, commercial publishing houses. The results from the initial round of cancellations were scaled down versions of big deals. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has a tracking mechanism of big deal cancellations which can be found here: <>. There are currently around 30 instances noted on their spreadsheet, indicating where deals were reduced or switched over to ordering specific titles as requested/needed by faculty in North America. In addition, SPARC has also added where negotiations from big deal packages have failed worldwide.

Jacob Nash & Karen McElfresh note in their 2016 article “A Journal Cancellation Survey and Resulting Impact on Interlibrary Loan” there was, in fact, little to no impact on Interlibrary Lending of content that made up their big deal cancellation. (DOI: <10.3163/1536-5050.104.4.008>). This study appears to be indicative to what many others have reported once they lose their big deal. There does not appear to be a significant upswing in ILL once a deal ends or is significantly reduced….

Given this fear and often great concern, my goal became to listen to librarians from Germany and Sweden about their consortial decisions regarding the biggest publisher in the mix, Elsevier. Bibsam, a consortia for Swedish academic institutions was unable to reach an agreement with Elsevier, and their content access ended July 1, 2018 for all content published after this date. For Germany, the lack of a renewed DEAL contract has resulted in a cascading loss of access among higher education institutions and research institutions. In both Germany and Sweden, it is still very early days with their non-renewal of Elsevier deals. For Germany, a few research institutions continue to have access to content up through the end of 2018. In addition, their previous contracts supply perpetual access for the years to which they were subscribed, so backfile access for numerous titles has been retained. My two interviewees are Irene Barbers (IB), who is Head of Acquisitions, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Zentralbibliothek/Central Library, and Lisa Lovén (LL), Librarian, Licensing Coordinator, Stockholm University Library, Stockholm University. Both responded to four questions posed by me….”

100 days post cancellation of Elsevier –

“One hundred days have now passed since the contract with Elsevier was terminated. The cancellation has received a lot of attention, both from within Sweden and abroad. Questions and comments from researchers to libraries have been much fewer than expected, something which can partly be explained by the summer vacation period, but most probably due to the fact that users have not been greatly affected since they still have uninterrupted access to all material published until the first of July 2018.

Comments from researchers have been both positive and negative. The support for open access is strong and many also regard the high profit margins of the publisher as unreasonable. Those with negative comments mostly concern problems accessing the articles they need for their research. All comments receive a reply with a description of the current situation, and underline the fact that all Swedish Vice-Chancellors collectively stand behind the recommendation to terminate the contract.

Some higher education institutions (HEIs) have used the money saved post-cancellation to pay for their researchers’ article processing charges in pure open access journals. Part of the money has also been used to pay for the extra costs involved when important articles have to be ordered via on-demand document delivery services….”

Read and Publish: Is It Good for the Academy? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“With Elsevier cutting off access to its licensed content products at dozens if not hundreds of German and Swedish universities as a result of contract lapses, the European dynamics are taking another interesting turn. On Elsevier’s side, its financial performance for the first half of the year is apparently not impacted by the contract lapses, suggesting that it will be prepared to dig in for a long dispute if necessary. As for the negotiating consortia in the two countries, there is thus far no evidence that their researchers are causing libraries to scramble for access, suggesting that they too are preparing to dig in. Lines of communications between German negotiators and Elsevier remain open, so it should surprise no one if at least one major Read and Publish agreement is eventually reached….

PLOS and several other new entrants have grown up on the promise of APC-driven competition. And the gold promise has long been that APCs would ensure scholar-driven article-level price competition among journals. But Read and Publish threatens to put a lid on this competition….

Will Read and Publish agreements make it harder for new competition to emerge and for recent entrants to compete?…”