Analysis shows further growth in OASPA member journals output: CC BY dominates whilst content consolidation grows

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Each year, OASPA surveys its members about their publication output.  This year, we are delighted to continue to work with Delta Think who have helped us by taking on the analysis, structuring and presentation of the data we collect. This guest blog post from Delta Think by Dan Pollock covers some highlights from our findings.

OASPA members were invited to share their data to update the previous post on this topic which was published on the OASPA blog at the end of 2020 (we also published OA book data this year). Journal information shared here by OASPA covers the number of open access articles across all journals (including hybrid) and the license under which those articles were published, up to the year 2020. Figures were supplied as number of articles published per year since implementation of the license by that publisher. See the downloadable spreadsheet for full details.


Continued increase in OA articles published by OASPA Members

The volume of publications from OASPA members continues to grow. Just under 2.7 million articles were published by members in the period 2000-2020. Over 579,000 of these were published in 2020, representing a growth of around 28% over the previous year.  The number of articles published each year reported by members has grown around 13x from 2011 to 2020. 

CC BY in fully OA journals continues to dominate output. However, beneath the headlines lie some interesting nuances, especially around articles in hybrid journals.


Rate of growth for CC BY articles in fully-OA journals continues for OASPA members

Around 82% of OASPA members’ Open Access articles are published in fully OA journals. The chart below compares publications in fully OA journals with those in hybrid ones.

Figure 1: Open Access Articles Published by OASPA Members


The data show that CC BY articles in fully-OA journals are by far the dominant type of articles published by OASPA members. Just under 2.2 million articles were published with the CC BY license in fully OA (open access-only) journals by members of OASPA during the period 2000-2020. Around 422,000 of those were published in 2020. A further 65,000 or so were published in 2020 under CC BY in hybrid journals.

Numbers of articles continue to grow across the board. In 2020, the volume of articles in fully OA journals grew by over 26%, compared with a growth of just over 42% in hybrid output, and just over 28% overall.


CC BY article numbers for fully-OA journals continue to grow, but we see some growth elsewhere too

The CC BY license dominates, now accounting for over 89% of articles in fully OA journals, and around 63% of those in hybrid journals.


In fully OA journals, the proportion of CC BY licenses had been falling slightly up until 2018. This trend appears to have reversed in 2019. CC BY-NC licenses are holding steady at around 9.2% of fully OA output. Meanwhile the use of CC BY-NC-ND took some share in 2018, but fell from 6% in 2018 to just 1.5% in 2020. 

Licenses with some restrictions are significantly more prevalent in hybrid journals, although this trend is also showing signs of reversing. More restrictive licenses were displacing the proportion of CC BY, which had fallen from just over 75% of hybrid OA in 2014 to around 54% in 2019. However, in 2020 CC BY licenses recovered ground and increased to 63% of hybrid open access articles. The restrictive licenses are split roughly 2:1 in favour of CC BY-NC-ND over CC BY-NC.


Output is highly consolidated

2 publishers now account for 50% of OASPA members’ output; 5 account for 75% of it. This represents a greater consolidation over last year, where the top 3 together covered over 50% and the top 6 over 75%. While the top publishers are the same, the order has changed slightly from previous years. MDPI, Springer Nature and Frontiers remain the top three (although if we add Hindawi’s output to that of Wiley, then Wiley would come in 3rd).  We see similar levels of consolidation for CC BY licenses overall, and even greater consolidation for CC BY licenses published in fully-OA journals.


Delta Think is a strategic consulting and advisory firm serving organizations in professional and academic communications as well as professional membership societies. Since 2005, Delta Think has engaged with more than 120 organizations across the scholarly enterprise by creating effective business and product strategies, developing and analyzing customer and market intelligence, and translating strategies into actionable and execution focused roadmaps and work plans. 

To support data-driven decisions surrounding Open Access, in 2017 Delta Think launched the Open Access Data and Analytics Tool (OA DAT), a subscription-based product which allows users analyse open access data in detail and to stay abreast of the continually evolving market through carefully curated data, visualizations, and expert commentary on APCs, funding, market sizing and dynamics, and more. 

Learn more at and

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