Summary

This open source dashboard presents the uptake of hybrid open access for 3,988 different journals from 52 publishers between 2013 - 2019. During this six years period, 150,864 articles were made openly available immediately in these subscription-based journals, representing 2.7% of the total article volume studied.

Hybrid open access journals are included when they meet the following two conditions:

  1. academic institutions sponsored the publication fee or enabled open access publication through an offsetting agreement according to the Open APC initiative,
  2. publishers shared licensing information about fulltext accessibility and re-use rights with Crossref.

By bringing together openly available datasets about hybrid open access into one easy-to-use tool, this dashboard demonstrates how existing pieces of an evolving and freely available data infrastructure for monitoring scholarly publishing can be re-used to gain a better understanding of hybrid open access publishing. It, thus, contributes to recent calls from the Open Access 2020 Initiative and Open Knowledge aiming at a data-driven debate about how to transition subscription-based journal publishing to open access.

This document gives information about the study design, as well as how to use the dashboard. Because this open source dashboard was built around already existing infrastructure services for scholarly publishing, discussion will also include guidance about how publishers can properly report hybrid open access journal articles to Crossref in accordance with evolving standards like the ESAC guidelines.

Data and methods

Many publishers offer hybrid open access journals (Suber 2012). However, because of non-standardised reporting practices, it is hard to keep track of how many articles were provided immediately in open access by these journals, and to what extent these figures relate to the overall article volume published (Björk 2017). In particular, it is challenging to determine subscription-based journals that already did publish open access articles, as well as to obtain proper licensing information about access and re-use rights (Laakso and Björk 2016; Piwowar et al. 2017).

To reflect the challenge of finding hybrid open access journals with published open access articles, we started with a sample of hybrid open access journals from the Open APC initiative. This open data initiative crowd-source information about spending on open access journal articles from various international research organisations. Its openly available dataset differentiates expenditure for articles published in hybrid and in fully open access journals. It also has a dedicated dataset containing information about articles, which were made openly available as part of offsetting deals, central agreements between publishers and large research organisations or consortia aiming at transitioning subscription-based licensing to open access business models. Using data from the Open APC initiative, thus, ensured that only hybrid open access journals with at least one centrally funded open access article were examined.

After obtaining data about hybrid open access journals from the Open APC initiative, Crossref’s REST API was queried to discover open access articles published in these journals, as well as to retrieve yearly article volumes for the period 2013 - 2019. Using the rcrossref client, developed and maintained by the rOpenSci initiative, the first API call retrieved all licenses URLs available per ISSN. To control developments of the publishing market resulting in name changes of publishers or journal titles over time, only the most frequent facet field name was used. After matching and normalizing licensing URLs indicating open access articles with the help of the dissem.in / oaDOI access indicator list, a second API call checked licensing metadata to exclude delayed open access articles by using the Crossref’s REST API filters license.url and license.delay for the every single year in period of 2013 - 2019. Because journal business models can change from hybrid to fully open access over time, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a curated list of fully open access journals, was finally checked to exclude these journals by ISSNs. To improve this matching, DOAJ data was enriched with further ISSN variants from Rimmert et al. (2017).

Notice that although Crossref covers most open access journals disclosed by the Open APC initiative, not all publishers shared comprehensive metadata about access and re-use including licenses and embargo date via Crossref. In our case, 52 publishers provided licensing metadata via the Crossref API, representing 31 % of all publishers studied. At the journal-level, 82 % of all hybrid open access journal titles covered by the Open APC initiative shared proper licensing metadata with Crossref. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of licencing metadata coverage per publisher.