Future pathways of a sector in transition

an STS perspective on the scholarly publishing market and Open Access





scholarly publishing, Open Access, socio-technical system, science and technology studies, sustainability transition


The future of scholarly publishing, in particular the growth of Open Access publishing and how it is financially sustained, is hotly debated. Many different models, advantages, and disadvantages are being discussed. Yet, there is little consensus about what a future system should look like or how it should be governed. To describe the ongoing dynamics in scholarly publishing, this paper introduces the multilevel perspective on socio-technical transitions (MLP). This explorative application of the MLP addresses five possible transition pathways: transformation, reconfiguration, substitution, de-alignment & re-alignment, or a sequence. The analysis shows that incumbents survive by adapting to niche innovations and withstanding landscape pressure by innovating themselves, in terms of technology, business models and through acquisitions. In other words, the current trajectory reproduces the oligopoly of incumbents. This means that the sector is, at minimum, on a trajectory of transformation or, potentially, reconfiguration. This diagnosis may change when the dynamics change, for instance if niche innovations and landscape pressure converged stronger on an alternative pathway.


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Author Biography

Lennart Stoy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Lennart Stoy is Open Science Project Leader at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and secretary of the university’s Open Science office. He coordinates the implementation of Open Science in the EUTOPIA university alliance. Before joining VUB, he worked at the European University Association on various Open Science topics including FAIR research data (FAIRsFAIR) and the association’s work on Open Access/big deals with scholarly publishers.


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How to Cite

Stoy, L. (2022). Future pathways of a sector in transition: an STS perspective on the scholarly publishing market and Open Access. Septentrio Conference Series, (1). https://doi.org/10.7557/5.6590