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In 2019, STM Trends Point to Open Access

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In October, the STM Association released their 2018 report illuminating the push toward more open access to academic content. Open access is defined as making published scholarly work available free of charge and licensing restrictions in online databases. While some researchers and publishers are calling for more open access, others are resistant, citing costs and reputability. Regardless, OA will be the topic of discussion this year, as the need for web-scale discovery and mega journals becomes apparent.

The Rise of Open Access

As of 2018, over 11,000 articles are listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals, on top of an additional 15–20 percent of scholarly papers published with some form of OA. However, estimates suggest that over 3 million STM articles were published this year, highlighting the disproportion of non-OA content. Nevertheless, free journal access is at record highs despite resistance from publishers who doubt the sustainability of OA.

The Cost of Open Access

Cost effectiveness is the primary concern of OA opponents. Publishers cite author and licensing fees as grounds for paid journal subscriptions. However, from a research standpoint, this is a small price to pay for visibility and accessibility. Research funders are stepping up to cover the cost of publishing fees because they stand to gain a higher return on investment through the dissemination of their paper. Yet some journals and publishers are questioning the sustainability of this practice.

Sustainable OA Models

A recent surge in web-scale vendors and mega journals have helped lower the costs of scholarly content. Megajournals keep publishing costs down through sheer volume, building a large database covering a wide subject scope. Research funders are drawn to low article publication charges, suggesting the sustainability of the megajournal model.

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