A news release, Springer Open Choice uptake affects 2011 journal pricing (EurekAlert, June 18, 2010), raised questions about uptake of the Springer Open Choice option, a hybrid OA option. Searches of PMC (PubMed Central) can provide some relevant information. Examples:
Q#1: Was uptake of Springer Open Choice greater in 2009 than in 2008?
A: Yes. When “Limit by Journal” was used to restrict the search of PMC to “Springer Open Choice” (“Journal Name”), then the number of articles published in the date range “2009/01/01” to “2009/12/31” was found to be (Search #1): 2186. For the date range “2008/01/01” to “2008/12/31”, the result was (Search #2): 1079. So, these results indicate that the uptake of the Springer Open Choice option did increase substantially between 2008 and 2009.
Q#2: Does the Springer Open Choice option account for a substantial proportion of the OA publications available via PMC?
A: No. The proportion of the PMC Open Access Subset identified as being associated with the Springer Open Choice option was found (on June 21, 2010) to be 2186/40196=5.4% in 2009. This is an increase in this proportion in comparison with the previous year. The results for 2008 were: 1079/31006=3.5%.
Q#3: How does uptake of the Springer Open Choice option compare with that of other hybrid OA options?
A: Quite well. Data were obtained, using searches analogous to those considered above, for the percentages of “Elsevier Sponsored Documents” (PMC’s nomenclature) in the PMC Open Access Subset (1.1% in both 2009 and 2008) and for the percentages of “Wiley-Blackwell Online Open” (PMC’s nomenclature) publications in the PMC Open Access Subset (1.0% in 2009 and 1.6% in 2008).
Of course, many other publishers provide hybrid OA options. For a list, see: Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access (via SHERPA/RoMEO, University of Nottingham). The hybrid OA options of only a few of the major publishers on this list could be identified among PMC’s “Journal Names”. These included (in order of decreasing uptake into PMC): “BMJ Unlocked“, “ACS AuthorChoice“, “Taylor & Francis iOpenAccess” and “SAGE Open“. The uptake into PMC of the latter four hybrid OA options was less than that found for the Springer, Elsevier and Wiley-Blackwell hybrid OA options.
Data for the Oxford Open hybrid OA option could not be obtained via searches of PMC. However, a recent press release, Open Access Uptake for OUP Journals: Five years on (Oxford Journals News, June 10, 2010) , included the information that: “On a like-for-like basis, the average uptake in 2009 for journals which entered the scheme prior to 2008 was stable (6.7%, compared with 6.8% in 2008).” (These percentages represent the average uptake of the Oxford Open option for papers in participating OUP journals, taking into account a lower uptake amongst 11 new titles joining Oxford Open in 2009. They should not be compared with the percentages of hybrid OA publications in the PMC Open Access Subset).
Q #4: How does uptake of the Springer Open Choice option compare with data for PLoS ONE?
A: Better than anticipated. Data were obtained, using searches analogous to those considered above, for the percentages of publications in the PMC Open Access Subset that were published in PLoS ONE. The results, 11.0% in 2009 and 8.7% in 2008, are only approximately twice as large as the results for the Springer Open Choice option (5.4% in 2009 and 3.5% in 2008, see Q#2 above). PLoS ONE was selected for this comparison because it’s a broad based (and very high volume) fully OA journal that seems likely to grow even larger in the future (see Comments, below).
Data have been obtained, via PMC, about the uptake of the hybrid OA options of several major publishers. The Springer Open Choice option appears to have had the greatest uptake in 2008 and 2009. Perhaps this is because Springer was one of the earliest adopters of a hybrid OA option, which it launched in 2004 (see: Springer’s Open Choice program, Peter Suber, Open Access News, July 3, 2004). Springer has also actively marketed this option, via deals such these, also reported in Open Access News: Max Planck and Springer strike a deal (February 4, 2008) and Springer’s first US deal in which subscriptions cover publication fees for affiliated authors (January 21, 2009).
Of course, like it or not, one of the major marketing tools for journals is their Journal Impact Factor (JIF). Fully OA journals can have an JIF, but the hybrid OA components of otherwise toll-access journals currently do not.
Thomson Reuters recently released its 2009 Journal Citation Report. An excerpt from: New impact factors yield surprises (The Scientist, June 21, 2010):
PLoS ONE debuted in the Journal Citation Report for the first time with a respectable impact factor of 4.351. This score puts the open access journal in the top 25th percentile for biology publications. But might this sudden success be more of a bane than a boon to PLoS ONE, blogger Philip Davis asks. It may turn out that accepting 70 percent of the manuscripts submitted to your journal gets a bit trickier when you’re flooded with papers.
Thus, a surprisingly large initial JIF for PLoS ONE provides support for the prediction that this OA journal will grow even larger in the future. Will such growth pose problems of scalability for PLoS ONE? Perhaps – but these will be problems arising from success. Nice problems to have. Much better than the most unattractive alternative, which is failure.
Can the hybrid OA options offered by toll-access journals also increase their uptake? Perhaps, if these options are actively marketed, and can compete successfully in prestige and price with fully OA journals. Springer also has a nice problem. It now owns BioMed Central (BMC) a pioneering OA publisher. See: Springer acquisition FAQ. An excerpt from the FAQ:
7. Will BioMed Central’s article processing charges be raised to match those of the Springer Open Choice option?
No, BioMed Central will continue to set its own article processing charges, and no increases are planned as a results of the acquisition. As ever, BioMed Central reserves the right to adjust article processing charges from time to time in the light of economic factors.
So, Springer’s Open Choice option is competing with Springer’s own fully OA publisher. Might both of Springer’s approaches to Gold OA fail to compete successfully with those of other publishers? Seems unlikely.