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The growth of hybrid open access publishing

The past few years have seen a marked rise in both the number of journals offering hybrid open access and the number of open access articles being published. This phenomenon has now been studied in-depth by Professor Bo-Christer Björk, in a recent article published in PeerJ.

Hybrid open access journals are subscription journals that offer the option of publishing open access articles, typically upon payment of a fee (usually around $3,000). Professor Björk’s study looked at 20 leading publishers, including the five largest – Elsevier, Springer Nature Group, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis, and Sage. Data was obtained directly from publishers, from search facilities on publisher websites, from past studies, or from the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

There was a rapid growth in the number of journals offering hybrid open access between 2009 and 2014. By June 2017, the 20 publishers studied owned 9,678 hybrid journals; 73% of those owned by the top 5 publishers were hybrid open access by the end of 2014. The number of hybrid articles published gradually increased between 2009 and 2013, with growth accelerating from 2014 onwards. By 2016, the total number of hybrid articles published was estimated to be 44,395.

Professor Björk concludes that the increase in hybrid open access publication may have been helped by the introduction of new infrastructure and central processes by funding bodies. While he highlights that some journals still have little uptake of their open access option, others appear to have used it successfully as a stepping stone to full open access.

Hybrid open access data PeerJ

Total number of hybrid open-access articles published between 2009 and 2016.
Taken from Björk B-C. PeerJ 2017;5:e3878.


Summary by Philippa Flemming PhD, CMPP from Aspire Scientific

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