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The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era.

Larivière V, Haustein S, Mongeon P - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics.The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact.It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l'information, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3J7, Canada; Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies (OST), Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur la Science et la Technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3P8, Canada.

ABSTRACT
The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers' high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

No MeSH data available.


Operating profits (million USD) and profit margin of Reed-Elsevier as a whole (A) and of its Scientific, Technical & Medical division (B), 1991–2013.Compilation by the authors based on the annual reports of Reed-Elsevier. (http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/pages/home.aspx) Numbers for the Scientific, Technical & Medical division were only available in GBP; conversion to USD was performed using historical conversion rates from http://www.oanda.com.
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pone.0127502.g007: Operating profits (million USD) and profit margin of Reed-Elsevier as a whole (A) and of its Scientific, Technical & Medical division (B), 1991–2013.Compilation by the authors based on the annual reports of Reed-Elsevier. (http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/pages/home.aspx) Numbers for the Scientific, Technical & Medical division were only available in GBP; conversion to USD was performed using historical conversion rates from http://www.oanda.com.

Mentions: As one might expect, the consolidation of the publishing industry led to an increase of the profits of publishers. Fig 7 presents, as an example, the evolution of Reed-Elsevier’s profits over the 1991–2013 period, for the firm taken as a whole as well as for its Scientific, Technical & Medical division. One can clearly see in Fig 7A that, between 1991 and 1997, both the profits and the profit margin increased steadily for the company as a whole. While profits more than doubled over that period—from 665M USD to 1,451M USD—profit margin also rose from 17% to 26%. Profit margins decreased, however, between 1998 and 2003, although profits remained relatively stable. Absolute profits as well as the profit margin then rose again, with the exception of the 2008–2009 period of economic crisis, resulting in profits reaching an all-time high of more than 2 billion USD in 2012 and 2013. The profit margin of the company’s Scientific, Technical & Medical division is even higher (Fig 7B). Moreover, its profits increased by a factor of almost 6 throughout the period, and never dropped below 30% from one year to another. The profit margin of this division never decreased below 30% during the period observed, and steadily increased from 30.6% to 38.9% between 2006 and 2013. Similarly high profit margins were obtained in 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media (35.0%, see: http://static.springer.com/sgw/documents/1412702/application/pdf/Annual_Report_2012_01.pdf), and in 2013 and John Wiley & Sons’ Scientific, Technical, Medical and Scholarly division (28.3%, see: http://www.wiley.com/legacy/about/corpnews/fy13_10kFINAL.pdf) and Taylor and Francis (35.7%, see: http://www.informa.com/Documents/Investor%20Relations/Annual%20Report%202013/Informa%20plc%20Annual%20Report%20Accounts%202013.pdf), putting them on a comparable level with Pfizer (42%), the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (29%) and far above Hyundai Motors (10%), which comprise the most profitable drug, bank and auto companies among the top 10 biggest companies respectively, according to Forbes’ Global 2000 [30]. At a total revenue of 9.4 billion US dollars in 2011 [31], the majority of which were generated by a few publishing houses, the scientific journal publishing market faces oligopolistic conditions, where big players such as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell and Wolters Kluwer determine annually increasing subscription rates that make up a considerable amount of research spending, leaving academic libraries with no other choice but to cancel subscriptions [20,32,33].


The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era.

Larivière V, Haustein S, Mongeon P - PLoS ONE (2015)

Operating profits (million USD) and profit margin of Reed-Elsevier as a whole (A) and of its Scientific, Technical & Medical division (B), 1991–2013.Compilation by the authors based on the annual reports of Reed-Elsevier. (http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/pages/home.aspx) Numbers for the Scientific, Technical & Medical division were only available in GBP; conversion to USD was performed using historical conversion rates from http://www.oanda.com.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4465327&req=5

pone.0127502.g007: Operating profits (million USD) and profit margin of Reed-Elsevier as a whole (A) and of its Scientific, Technical & Medical division (B), 1991–2013.Compilation by the authors based on the annual reports of Reed-Elsevier. (http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/pages/home.aspx) Numbers for the Scientific, Technical & Medical division were only available in GBP; conversion to USD was performed using historical conversion rates from http://www.oanda.com.
Mentions: As one might expect, the consolidation of the publishing industry led to an increase of the profits of publishers. Fig 7 presents, as an example, the evolution of Reed-Elsevier’s profits over the 1991–2013 period, for the firm taken as a whole as well as for its Scientific, Technical & Medical division. One can clearly see in Fig 7A that, between 1991 and 1997, both the profits and the profit margin increased steadily for the company as a whole. While profits more than doubled over that period—from 665M USD to 1,451M USD—profit margin also rose from 17% to 26%. Profit margins decreased, however, between 1998 and 2003, although profits remained relatively stable. Absolute profits as well as the profit margin then rose again, with the exception of the 2008–2009 period of economic crisis, resulting in profits reaching an all-time high of more than 2 billion USD in 2012 and 2013. The profit margin of the company’s Scientific, Technical & Medical division is even higher (Fig 7B). Moreover, its profits increased by a factor of almost 6 throughout the period, and never dropped below 30% from one year to another. The profit margin of this division never decreased below 30% during the period observed, and steadily increased from 30.6% to 38.9% between 2006 and 2013. Similarly high profit margins were obtained in 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media (35.0%, see: http://static.springer.com/sgw/documents/1412702/application/pdf/Annual_Report_2012_01.pdf), and in 2013 and John Wiley & Sons’ Scientific, Technical, Medical and Scholarly division (28.3%, see: http://www.wiley.com/legacy/about/corpnews/fy13_10kFINAL.pdf) and Taylor and Francis (35.7%, see: http://www.informa.com/Documents/Investor%20Relations/Annual%20Report%202013/Informa%20plc%20Annual%20Report%20Accounts%202013.pdf), putting them on a comparable level with Pfizer (42%), the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (29%) and far above Hyundai Motors (10%), which comprise the most profitable drug, bank and auto companies among the top 10 biggest companies respectively, according to Forbes’ Global 2000 [30]. At a total revenue of 9.4 billion US dollars in 2011 [31], the majority of which were generated by a few publishing houses, the scientific journal publishing market faces oligopolistic conditions, where big players such as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell and Wolters Kluwer determine annually increasing subscription rates that make up a considerable amount of research spending, leaving academic libraries with no other choice but to cancel subscriptions [20,32,33].

Bottom Line: NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics.The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact.It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l'information, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3J7, Canada; Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies (OST), Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur la Science et la Technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3P8, Canada.

ABSTRACT
The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers' high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

No MeSH data available.