Delta Think’s OA Market Sizing shows that the OA market is now entrenched and growing faster than the underlying journals publishing market. We estimate it to be $470m in 2016 and on track to grow to half a billion dollars as we go from 2017 into 2018. However important challenges remain: OA’s share of output is greater than its share of revenue, posing interesting questions about sustainability, and, although we have many of the top publishers now participating in our survey, we could do with more, as gathering meaningful data remains a challenge.


Updates to key industry indexes are released over the summer, and we combine these with benchmarks obtained from our publishers survey to size the market. Our models, examined in greater depth within the main Open Access Data & Analytics Tool, suggest that headlines for sizing are as follows:

  • In 2015, the global OA market was worth around USD $390m, and grew to around $470m in 2016.
  • The 18% increase between 2015 and 2016 is larger than the underlying growth – typically low to mid single digit – of the overall scholarly publishing market.
  • We expect growth in OA to continue at similar rates over the near term at least, putting the market on target for over $500m in 2017 into 2018.
  • Just over 20% of all articles are published OA, but they account for between 4% and 9% of total journal publishing market value, depending on how the market is defined.
  • The major indexes suggest a core of around 3,800 fully OA journals, although there is an unindexed long tail of 2x – 4x that number.
  • Total output of scholarly articles appears to be slowing from 6% per year in prior years to just under 5% per year since 2014.

The dynamics of the OA market remain varied and nuanced, with our overall takeaways as follows:

  1. The key driver of the OA market remains funders. When choosing journals to publish in, researchers primarily consider relevance and reputation and do not place a high priority on business model. So movement toward OA happens where funders’ impetus overcomes researchers’ inertia. Funders’ appetites for OA in turn vary by territory. Those in the EU have the strongest mandates, but those in the Far East, for example, incentivize publication based on Impact Factor as they seek to enhance reputations and advance careers.
  2. There is a clear two-tier OA marketplace, with hybrid take-up stronger than previously estimated in comparison with fully OA journals. The balance between revenues from fully OA journals, hybrid, and other sources (considering offsetting deals) could be set to change if the moves underway in Germany to limit overall expenditure on publishing gain wider traction. It’s early days yet, and this will likely only affect the EU, but if the EU builds on its 2020 vision for Open Access and pursues more aggressive interventions around pricing, it is likely we will see slower growth in the OA market overall.
  3. The relatively low share of OA market value compared with its share of output poses interesting questions. The interpretation depends on point of view taken towards Open Access. The data either suggest that OA’s cost effectiveness could lower systemic costsof publishing, or that we need to be realistic about systemic costs and global funding flows. The growth in uptake of OA is slow: 17+ years to comprise one-fifth of article output, and, at best, one-tenth of market value. Again, views vary as to whether the transition to Open Access is frustratingly slow or reassuringly measured.
  4. The long tail of unindexed fully OA journals suggest interesting possibilities. Quality, of course, does not imply quantity, but there are many journals from reputable publishers not yet indexed and Clarivate’s Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) suggests thatup-and-coming publications contain a higher proportion of output in fully OA journals. It could be argued that the proliferation of small independent journals that have emerged in the OA space echo the fragmented world of scholarly publishing in the post-war period of the last century – out of which the current established scholarly journals industry grew.
  5. The apparent slowing in total scholarly output could be worrisome: It could simply be a one-off blip or a step-change of growth rate. If it continues, growth in industry output – and, it follows logically, value – will be flat-lining by 2023. Could we be seeing the beginnings of profound change in the way researchers use information? Or perhaps we are now experiencing our SciHub/Napster moment? We could be more certain about this if the industry generated better data about itself, so we will simply have to continue to take measurements over the coming months to be confirm the trend. At this stage, however, it does seem that 2014 saw a slowing of growth, so we can rule nothing out.


In looking at market sizing, we have concluded that the OA market is established, growing faster than the underlying scholarly publishing market, but taking share slowly. We have put numbers on things not previously been quantified, suggested underlying causes and drivers, and shared this with the community.

Perhaps, however, the biggest headline is that, in 2017, the data available in the scholarly publishing ecosystem about the market remains so poor. Unlike other industries, scholarly publishing culture is not one of sharing, so it is difficult to measure the market directly and in a timely way. To offset this, we use confidential survey data to produce benchmarks and adjust for lags in industry data sources, and we are delighted that four of the five largest STM publishers now participate in our survey, together with some eminent societies and smaller publishers.

However, if we are to dig deeper into long-term trends and turn data into predictions, we need publishers’ help. In particular, following Open Access Week, we are appealing to leaders in all publishing organizations to participate in our survey. Information remains confidential, but the averages we produce mean we can produce more updates and help with further information and insights into the future direction of OA publishing.

Editor: Ann Michael

As part of our commitment to provide continually updated and relevant information, we’ve just released our updated Open Access Market Sizing analysis – now available to our subscribers.

The updated Market Sizing analysis shows the latest data from 2017. The Total Articles Published, Dynamics of Fully OA Journals and Articles in Fully OA Journals pages have all been revised, with the Articles in Hybrid Journals page scheduled for updating within the month. New filters have been added to charts, allowing users to see last year’s data, allowing users to see changes over time and to refer to sources previously used. New benchmarks and chart averages have been added to charts to help visualize averages, and we are testing our new Open Access KPI, which offers a visual summary of headline market sizing numbers. Finally, we have added deep analysis examining how the industry indexes change over time, for those who wish to carry out their own modelling.

Other smaller changes include updates to the Megajournals section to reflect the results of the latest sizing, a new Books Subject Dynamics page, and the addition of data about GERD as a proportion of GDP to the Global Spending on R&D page. Finally, the News and Views archives have been reorganized. The cumulative tables Headlines and Journal Launches now live in their own pages, and the archives have been renamed to include the topic covered by the Views.

As promised, Delta Think continues to keep information evergreen so users have the experience of a living, breathing market “report” based on fresh data and analysis, with the added bonus of interactivity.


Health Research Board to become first public funder to launch publication platform with F1000 – October 26, 2017

“Ireland’s Health Research Board (HRB) is to launch a new publishing platform that will enable HRB–funded researchers to publish all research outputs quickly, in an open and transparent way. HRB Open Research will be the first publication platform operated by F1000 on behalf of a public funder.”

W. Bertelsmann Verlag increases visibility and usage of its Open Access titles through Knowledge Unlatched – October 25, 2017

“As part of the international Open Access Week, W. Bertelsmann Verlag (wbv) is to make its Open Access titles in social sciences, education and social research internationally available through Knowledge Unlatched.”

PeerJ announces expansion of its open access megajournal to include Environmental Sciences– October 24, 2017

“Open access publisher PeerJ announces the expansion of its flagship journal PeerJ to include a dedicated section on Environmental Sciences.”

Over 70% of Springer Nature authors in four European countries now publish via gold open access – October 23, 2017

“Publisher Springer Nature announced that it has achieved a milestone in advancing discovery through open research, with over 70% of corresponding authors from four European countries now publishing via gold open access.”

EDP Sciences and TIB sign agreement to publish Open Access conference proceedings – October 12, 2017

“EDP Sciences signed a partnership agreement with the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) – German National Library of Science and Technology to support the publication of conference proceedings in a number of STM fields.”

Knowledge Unlatched to open up its central platform for the funding of Open Access models – October 5, 2017

“Knowledge Unlatched (KU) is pleased to announce its transformation into a central Open Access (OA) platform. Through this platform, KU will support publishers and OA initiatives by managing the funding processes for their OA models.”


October 31, 2017

AMIA launches new Gold Open Access journal – JAMIA Open

“The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) launched JAMIA Open, a new Gold Open Access scholarly publication. JAMIA Open is a sibling publication to the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).”

October 19, 2017

Wolters Kluwer and Orthopaedic Trauma Association Launch OTA International

“Wolters Kluwer, in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) and its International Section, announce OTA International, a new open access journal published alongside the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.”

October 10, 2017

First open access issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) now available

“The fall of 2017 marks the beginning of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) as a fully open access journal.”

October 5, 2017

SAGE Publishing launches the Journal of Textiles and Fibrous Materials

“SAGE Publishing announces that it is to begin publishing the Journal of Textiles and Fibrous Materials, a new open access (OA) journal exploring fibrous structures and fiber based materials.”

October 4, 2017

JAMA Network to launch fully open-access journal

“The JAMA Network will launch a new online general medical journal, JAMA Network Open, in early 2018. The new journal will publish peer-reviewed, fully open-access clinical research across all medical disciplines.”

October 4, 2017

EDP Sciences announces the launch of Emergent Scientist: a new hands on peer-reviewed publication for science students

“EDP Sciences is pleased to announce the recent launch of Emergent Scientist, an innovative new open access journal that puts young scientists at its heart. The journal was born out of the 2016 International Physicists’ Tournament (IPT), and is supported by the French Physics Society and the French Academy of Science.”

October 4, 2017

BMJ launches new open access science journal

“Leading healthcare knowledge provider BMJ today launches BMJ Open Science – a journal applying open science principles to preclinical and basic research. The journal has open access, open peer review, and has an open data policy.”