The Open Access Sector Outperforms the Scholarly Publishing Market

As a sector, Open Access has been found to outperform the publishing market in terms of growth rates and value generation.

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According to the recently published STM Global Brief 2021 - Economics and Market Size report, Delta Think analysis results indicate that the Open Access sector can be expected to increase its revenues by 11.5% and output by 12.5%, in the 2021-2022 period, based on the projections and figures for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, as compared to the scholarly publishing market as a whole. Whereas the global science, technology and medical publishing market has only grown by around 4.6% to 28 billion USD in 2019, in 2020 it has demonstrated a contraction of 5.4% to 26.5 billion USD, under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, based on an Outsell report,  “Segment View: Scientific, Technical & Medical,” published in July, 2021.

At the same time, between 2015 and 2020 in this sector article output has been found to increase in the 5%-6.5% range, even though in the Social Sciences and Humanities sector annual content growth rates have been moving between 1.7% and 3.8% in the 2018-2020 period, as a presentation by Simba Information indicates. Furthermore, according to a market outlook for the 2021-2025 period, print book publishing has sustained a significant negative impact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast,  digital-format scholarly content represents a globally dominant market sector, while accounting for circa 89% of scientific and technical output in 2020 and demonstrating a yearly growth rate of 10%, as compared to 2019, based on market segmentation reports of Outsell. For the scholarly book market, digital content primarily comprises paywall-protected electronic books and digital Open Access books in e-reader, desktop or mobile phone formats.

The market value of the Open Access sector derives from its underlying revenue models. According to Delta Think estimates, Open Access accounted for 7% of the total journal publishing market in 2020. Thus, for 2019 the worth of the Open Access market was appraised at 760 million USD with a yearly growth rate of 13%.

This market was  estimated to grow to 850 million USD in 2020, while accounting for over 30% of total scholarly output for that year.    


Featured image credits: The New Library in Birmingham, UK, August 11, 2014  | © Courtesy of  Neil Howard/Flickr.

Pablo Markin

Community Manager, Open Research Community