Monitoring the Transition to Open Access in the UK and beyond


  • Rob Johnson



Researching Consulting was part of a consortium of organisations that has undertaken a major study of the transition to open access (OA) in the UK and globally, including its implications for authors, universities and learned societies. The study, which was funded by Universities UK, was published in September this year, and sought to provide reliable indicators on five key features of the transition to OA both in the UK and globally:

  1. the numbers of fully-OA and hybrid journals available to authors, along with issues such as the level of article processing charges (APCs), the availability of CC-BY licences, and the length of embargo periods;
  2. the number of articles accessible on OA terms via different routes;
  3. the level of usage of OA articles as compared to those that are not accessible on OA terms;
  4. the amounts paid by UK universities in subscriptions and in APCs; and
  5. the overall income and expenditure – as well as the volumes of journal-related income and expenditure – of UK learned societies.

Among other things, the findings indicate that most journals offer an OA option, largely following the hybrid model, and that immediate OA publication is growing faster than other options, with a steep increase in APC expenditures by UK universities. In considering the implications of OA for UK learned societies, the study has allowed the importance of publishing as a revenue stream for societies to be quantified for the first time, and finds no evidence that (up to the end of 2013) OA has had any adverse impact on their overall financial health. The study fills a number of gaps in current understanding of the transition to OA and it has important implications for the scholarly and publishing communities both in the UK and internationally.