Open Success

One of the biggest changes in the history of academic publishing has been the movement towards Open Access, where scholarly articles are free to read, download, copy, distribute, and print at the time of publication.

This movement to remove paywalls has been enthusiastically embraced by publishers who have made huge advances in the introduction of this new model in the interest of greater distribution of the work of academics and scientists around the world.

The success of Open Access is, however, dependent on the financial models that support it. STM upholds the rights of researchers to choose how they want to be published but is aware that with the shift in the payment model to “author pays” will present challenges for many researchers, particularly those who are self-funded.

We would encourage more funders to support the OA aspirations of researchers. OA needs to be sustainable to cover the costs of publishing which remain the same for OA as they do for subscription.

Of the 3 million or so articles published every year, around 30% per cent are now open access.

Open access has a number of clear benefits to the research community and the broader general public.

  • OA articles are cited 1.6 times more than non-OA articles; downloaded 4 times more often and attract 2.5 times more attention, as measured by news and policy mentions
  • Funders often insist on OA publishing as a condition
  • OA gives greater access to academic research to poorer countries who might not be able to afford the traditional subscription fees. Many publishers offer fee waivers to help researchers unable to afford the charges

STM’s mission is to encourage the broadest possible access to high-quality, peer-reviewed articles, to preserve the integrity and to enable the necessary investment needed to advance scholarship, science and innovation.

This means we still support the subscription model which gives access to participating libraries around the world.  Under this method, the costs of publishing are covered by subscriptions to the content by libraries and other institutions.

Subscription is particularly important for those disciplines where OA funding is unavailable.


Hybrid Journals

Many of our members are now offering researchers the option or publishing either with the subscription model or through OA. These hybrid journals are growing in popularity as they offer researchers the choice of payment model within their first-choice journal.


Open Science

STM also believes in the principles of Open Science- a broad umbrella term used to describe a change in the way in which science is conducted, including the use of technology to make the practice of research more collaborative Open Science encompasses broad themes, such as open access and open data, as well as research metrics, research integrity, and citizen science.


Open Data

Individual publishers are developing tools and services to support researchers to make their data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable) and are engaged in discussions around the European Union Open Science Cloud.

Publishers have also actively responded to community demand for citation principles for data, and a number of publishers have endorsed the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles to ensure researchers get proper credit for their work. STM itself has been involved in numerous projects looking at data citation and preservation, for example RDA and APARSEN. And has been contributing to the principles of open data through its Research Data Year which aims to boost effective sharing of research data. To date almost 20 publishers have signed up to uphold the principles of open data and the Share, Link and Cite framework.


Research Metrics

Publishers are responding to researcher demand for new and innovative ways of measuring the research endeavour. These innovations seek to harness technology and reflect how researchers engage with each other and with the wider world. We favour a holistic approach, using a variety of robust measures, and look forward to working with the wider research community if and when agreement is reached on the types of alternative metrics that might play a useful role in assessment and evaluation.


Collaborative initiatives

STM members are involved in a number of collaborative initiatives designed to improve access to scholarly content. One such is GetFTR which speeds up access entitlements by pasting a clear marker on all research libraries are already subscribed to which can be clicked for rapid access without the need for individual logins to publisher platforms. This is particularly relevant during the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in more people working off campus.


At the beginning of the pandemic, publishers united in offering all coronavirus research free of any charges. As a result, more than 50 million articles were released from paywalls and were subsequently downloaded more than 150 million times.