Researchers from Globally Leading Universities Increasingly Prefer Gold Open Access Journals as Publication Venues

Harvard University Science Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, April 1, 2014 | © Courtesy of Gunnar Klack/Flickr.
Harvard University Science Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, April 1, 2014 | © Courtesy of Gunnar Klack/Flickr.

A recent empirical study on the article publication patterns in the scholarly field of global health has found that researchers from high-ranking universities are significantly more likely to opt for Gold Open Access journals than their counterparts from lower-ranking universities. Its findings also demonstrate the growing prestige of diverse Open Access models, such as Green Open Access, despite differences in funding availability.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

While the merits of different Open Access models continue to be discussed in scholarly literature, such as in the closed-access article by Sarah Cuschieri published on June 2018 in the Elsevier-owned journal Early Human Development, a recent publication by Kyle Siler, Stefanie Haustein, Elise Smith, Vincent Larivière, Juan Pablo Alperin, which has appeared on February 2018 in the Life and Environment section of the Open Access journal PeerJ, suggests that different Gold Open Access publishing models are becoming increasingly prevalent at the high end of academic hierarchies.

More specifically, based on their investigation of scholarly articles published between 2010 and 2014 and indexed, under the category of Global Health, in the PubMed database and the Web of Science, Siler and colleagues have found that, in this field of scientific inquiry, only 35.1% (n=474) of papers have been published in closed-access journals. In other words, in their empirical sample comprising 1,352 papers with academic affiliation of their authors indicated, fully 64.9% (n=878) of articles have been published at scholarly periodicals based on different Open Access models. Namely, 31.1% (n=461) of scholarly papers have been published in Green Open Access journals, which makes this publishing model second most popular, after the toll-based one, for this sample.

That Gold Open Access journals with article processing charges (APCs), hybrid Open Access venues and Gold Open Access periodicals without APCs have been found to respectively receive 14.6% (n=197), 9% (n=122) and 6.2% (n=84) of submissions in this field is likely to be due to the scholarly quality and impact factor performance that their publishing models make possible. Indeed, according to Siler et al., 69.2% of investigated publications have been published in various Open Access formats in otherwise subscription-based journals.
In terms of institutional affiliation, in this sample, the most prevalent institution type, from which article authors hailed, has been found to be universities with rankings, according to the evaluation by the Times Higher Education for the year 2017, ranging from 1 to 25, such as 17.1% and 16.8% for the first and second author respectively. The logistic regression results of the study by Siler and others have further indicated that significant differences in preference for closed-access journals between scholars from high-ranking universities and lower-ranking ones have been found.

International researchers, from universities with rankings in the top-50 tier, have also been found to primarily prefer journals based on Gold Open Access, as article publication venues. By contrast, their counterparts from universities in the tiers below that of top 50 have been found to give weaker, but equally significant, preference to scholarly journals based on all Open Access models.

As the investigation, which Siler et al. have also made, of the mean APCs paid by researchers from different groups has shown, those affiliated with lower-ranking universities also tend to pay lower levels of APCs, which could be due to the budgeting constraints that these institutions face, as opposed to high-ranking universities, non-profit organizations and for-profit enterprises.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Harvard University Science Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, April 1, 2014 | © Courtesy of Gunnar Klack/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 08/10/2018,

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