OASPA members’ output in Fully OA journals is accelerating

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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 collected. 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 2021. Information 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 2021. 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 here.


Significant increase in OA articles published by OASPA Members

The volume of publications from OASPA continues to grow. Just under 4 million articles were published by members in the period 2000-2020. Members joining in 2021/2022 added their data retrospectively to the overall numbers, boosting overall output measured by roughly 25%. 

Just under 1m of the cumulative total were published in 2021, representing a growth of around 46% over the previous year. The total number of articles reported by members has more than doubled since 2018, and grown around 20x over the last decade. 

CC BY in fully OA journals continues to dominate output, accounting for almost three quarters of it. However, beneath the headlines lie some interesting nuances. We see differences between fully OA and hybrid journals.


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

Around 84% 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: Number of 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 over 2.9 million articles were published with the CC BY license in fully OA (open access-only) journals by members of OASPA during the period 2000-2021. Around 643,000 of those were published in 2021. Just under 120,000 were published in 2021 under CC BY in hybrid journals.

Numbers of articles continue to grow across the board. In 2021, the volume of articles in fully OA journals grew by just over 46%, compared with a growth of just over 44% in hybrid output, and 46% overall.

CC BY licenses dominate, now accounting for almost 81% of articles in fully OA journals, around 60% of those in hybrid journals. These proportions are slightly lower than last year’s, reflecting a change in balance due to new members joining.

Figure 2: Comparative Distribution of Licenses across Fully OA and Hybrid Journals

In fully OA journals, the proportion of CC BY licenses had been falling slightly up until 2015. This trend appears to have reversed in 2016. Share of CC BY-NC licenses is largely holding steady. They account for around 8.6% of fully OA output, and have grown by 0.5 percentage points over the last few years. Meanwhile the use of CC BY-NC-ND increased to around 9.5% in 2018 and has been stable since then. 

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 51% in 2019. However, in 2020 CC BY licenses recovered ground and increased to 60% of licenses in hybrid journals. The restrictive licenses show volumes of CC BY-NC-ND running at roughly 2.6x those of CC BY-NC. 


Output is highly consolidated

The top 3 publishers now account for 52% of OASPA members’ output, the top 5 just under 70% and the top 10 for 83% of it. This is slightly less consolidated compared with last year, with changes most influenced by new members joining. We see greater levels of consolidation for CC BY licenses overall, and greater still for CC BY licenses published in fully OA journals. MDPI and Springer Nature remain the two largest producers. Elsevier is third, having joined OASPA this year, and displaced Frontiers into fourth place. (Although if we add Hindawi’s output to that of Wiley, then Wiley would come in 3rd). 

You can see more detailed visualizations using Delta Think’s analysis tools, as noted below.

A post looking at open access book publication data collected from OASPA members will follow separately.


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 www.deltathink.com and https://oainfo.deltathink.com/

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