CNKI free services during COVID-19 and OA long-term practice


Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), initiated in 1999 by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd., is both the largest institutional repository in China and a near-monopoly provider of for-pay academic databases with a higher profit margin than Elsevier or Wiley, among other services. With promotion and support from the government, CNKI keeps developing its track towards open access [1]. CNKI offers free access to millions of documents ranging from dissertations and academic articles to popular and party journals. The COAA, Chinese Open Access Aggregator, launched in 2019, makes available more than 10,000 open access journals, although foreign scholars may find it difficult to benefit from this due to the language. CNKI has played an important role in making works on COVID-19 freely available, as well as in expanding access to subscribers at home during lock-down.


CNKI stands for Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, it was initiated by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd. and was founded in June 1999. According to Tongfang ’s annual report, the company officially opened the world ’s largest Chinese knowledge portal ‘CNKI ( database’ in 2004, informally known as ‘Zhiwang’. CNKI is currently China’s largest integrator of academic electronic resources, including more than 95% of officially published Chinese academic resources.

At the end of 2017, CNKI had more than 20,000 institutional users, more than 20 million individual registered users, full-text downloads amounted to 2 billion pages per year and more than 150,000 online users. The market share of CNKI in Chinese undergraduate colleges is 100%. [2]

As most students know, the best way to access databases outside school is VPN. However, in some inconvenient situations like during the COVID-19 lockdown time in China, you cannot use VPN in some places. Some major Chinese database vendors provided recent limited-time free services. According to the Central China Normal University Library announcement, during the COVID-19 epidemic period (the service period is tentatively from February 1 to March 3, 2020), CNKI provides 4 free services including CNKI database literature acquisition, research learning, and collaborative scientific research services (CNKI OKMS platform). (English translation by the author) At the same time, the school’s students are offered a new online entrance to access CNKI database.[3]

For Chinese readers, CNKI developed a special database online platform to release and promote the latest COVID-19 related study results. You can notice the platform name in red font on the homepage. The platform includes 2,256 journals in total, including 23 non-Chinese journals.[4]

Source: print screen from

At the same time, CNKI announced that there is free access given by the CNKI OKMS platform, helping uninterrupted research team communication during the special times. The “OKMS Huizhi” is an Office Software for Collaborative Research.

Ms. Dai also stresses that the “OKMS Huizhi” platform was launched in May 2019, and it is now free because of the COVID-19 epidemic situation so that everyone can research from home. Before June 1, the “OKMS Huizhi” platform will be open for free. (English translation by the author) [5]

Besides the limited free access due to the COVID-19 pandemic period, CNKI started to open a variety of continuous services, for example, full-text open access to some Chinese published literature.

The target of this service is the whole country of China, which started in November 2015. The types of documents served include academic journals, conference papers, doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, and newspapers.

The free service scope of 2020 is all documents published by CNKI in 2011 and before, including 40.89 million articles published in 11,402 journals from 1911 to 2011, accounting for about 59.8% of all documents. These include academic journals; culture, art, and other popular journals; party construction, political newspapers, and other party and government journals; higher education, vocational education, and other educational journals; economic information journals. From 2000-2011 CNKI published 188,000 doctoral dissertations, 1.51 million ancillary papers, 4.17 million conference papers, accounting for 45.6%, 38.1%, and 67.4% respectively, as well as, 18.15 million articles from more than 400 newspapers from 2001 to 2019, totaling 64,908 million articles. (English translation by the author) [6]

For Chinese authors, there is a free service that started in September 2019, aiming at the authors who have Chinese publications collected in CNKI database. On this online free author service platform, authors can download own published documents for free, manage academic achievements, obtain academic evaluation reports, track academic frontier developments, and achieve online journal submission.[7] For English readers, CNKI keeps updating its oversea website. At the time this blog post is written, the open-access (OA) online-first publishing of COVID-19 platform is officially online to serve [] which includes 2,288 China journals and 25 foreign journals.

Source: print screen from
Source: print screen from

What is more, CNKI Open Access Aggregator (COAA) is introduced to foreign scholars. CNKI Open Access Aggregator, COAA in short, was launched in 2019 and currently has more than 10,000 open access journals covering all fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and humanities.

According to the COAA platform introduction on their webpage, it will continue to expand the coverage of open resources from now on, increase open access books, papers, conference papers, etc., to provide users with a large number of open access resources. The journal covers 100 countries and regions on five continents, covering 100 disciplines and covering 70 languages. (English translation by the author) [8] Unfortunately, the homepage and all the instructions are in Chinese. The language barrier could be a difficulty for non-Chinese scholars.

Besides all the effort CNKI has made to develop open-access (OA), there are many challenges it is facing. One survey of Chinese readers conducted by Wen revealed the fact that 94.5 percent of the respondents were ignorant of the existence of OA journals.[9] As we mentioned before, the market share of CNKI in Chinese undergraduate colleges is 100% which keeps CNKI the Chinese world of academic publishing in a monopolistic stranglehold. According to Wang Yiwei’s article on July 24, 2019, CNKI has posted an average annual profit margin of nearly 60%in the past decade which almost doubled the figure of Wiley [10].

At the end of 2018, the Taiyuan University of Technology, a university located in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, put a notice regarding the suspension of access to “CNKI” in 2019 on their school website[11] and the next day the school library published that the budget for the usage contract with CNKI was 588,000 yuan (about $85,500). [12]

The cancellation due to high fees happens around the world. For example, SUNY (State University of New York System) subscribed to approximately 250 titles in Elsevier instead of the whole database in 2020 and this approach will save SUNY institutions $7 million annually. [13]

CNKI, which has been developed with the strong support of the government, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and other departments, could assume more social responsibilities through open-access (OA) instead of taking advantage of its leading enterprises to gain more economic benefits. As the quick development of online services is being promoted by the national government during the COVID-19 pandemic period, it is believed that open-access (OA) is to become the future of academic library exchanges in China.


[1] Zhong, Jing, and Shuyong Jiang. 2016. “Institutional Repositories in Chinese Open Access Development: Status, Progress, and Challenges.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 42 (6): 739–44.

[2] 谭捷,张李义 & 饶丽君. (2010).中文学术期刊数据库的比较研究. 图书情报知识(04),4-13. doi:10.13366/j.dik.2010.04.015.

[3] Central China Normal University Library Announcement (2020). 疫情期间限时免费数据库使用攻略.

[4] CNKI 2.0 homepage.

[5] 本王整理(2020-02-04). 刚刚!中国知网道歉了,并对免费服务项目做出说明.

[6]《中国学术期刊(光盘版)》电子杂志社有限公司(2020-02-01). 关于中国知网免费服务项目的说明.

[7] open-access author service platform.

[8] COAA platform introduction (2019).

[9] Wen (2008) citation: as cited in Hu (2012).Hu, Dehau. 2012. “The Availability of Open Access Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences in China.” Journal of Information Science 38 (1): 64–75.

[10] Wang Yiwei(2020-06-24). Publish or Perish: How China’s Elsevier Made its Fortune.

[11] Zhang shumei (2018-12-28). Notice on suspending access to “CNKI series database” in 2019

[12] Tendering and Procurement Center (2018-12-29). 2019 Electronic Periodical Database Renewal Service Project Transaction Announcement

[13] Big Deal Cancellation Tracking.


Cite as: Shi, A. (2020). [ CNKI free services during COVID-19 and OA long-term practice ]. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. [].

China and open access: Sciencepaper Online


During the lockdown of the entire country, China is bravely fighting against COVID-19. Many database vendors, publishers, and Internet companies announced to offer free access to academic resources to help students and researchers get the resources they need from home. Most of the publishers offered free access to everyone for a limited time and to decide whether to extend the period or not depend on the COVID-19 situation while some publishers announced open access from the announcement date indefinitely. At the same time, they are using technology to provide a convenient communication platform for researchers and provide an effective channel for up-to-date publication of results and new ideas of COVID-19 for the public.

Here we use the open-access platform ‘Sciencepaper Online’ [] as a case study. The review and release period of papers online related to COVID-19 has been significantly reduced to 3 working days and all documents have been open for free in full text indefinitely from the start of February. Meanwhile, it works with other publishers and opens a separate area for Novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP), providing preprinted copies of relevant research results for free submission, publishing, browsing, downloading.


The outbreak of pandemic caused by COVID-19 has already affected people’s daily life worldwide. On January 27th, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Education decided to delay the start of the spring semester in 2020. Due to the lockdown, all the universities and schools in China have closed. However, all the classes and teaching still need to continue at home. Classes from primary schools to Universities are all changed to online teaching. Limited resources and communication channels put great pressure on students, teachers, and researchers. According to the guidance and organization of the Ministry of education, lots of databases, publishers, and internet firms were offering free access to their website or launching a mobile application to giving academic resources for a limited time. However, open access has been going on in China for a long time. As a leading provider of open access in China, Sciencepaper Online is playing an important academic intermediary in this incident.

Brief introduction

According to the Sciencepaper online website, Sciencepaper Online is an academic institutional repository established in 2003 initiated by the Ministry of Education and hosted by the Science and Technology Development Center of the Ministry of Education. This platform is dedicated to providing scientific researchers with rapid paper publication and free access services. It is the first online academic open-access (OA) journals platform in China and the leading international peer-reviewed platform for online preprinted papers. (English translation by the author)

Since its publication in August 2006, Sciencepaper Online opened its Weibo account to give more up-to-date information about the platform for more people in 2011. Weibo is a popular social media platform in China similar to Twitter. According to the ASKCI Consulting company report, Weibo has more than 330 million users by the end of 2018. In 2016, Sciencepaper Online launched a mobile application to help scholars have more flexible access to open access resources the platform offers. On March 27th,  2019, Sciencepaper Online formally signed ‘Expression of Interest in the Large-scale Implementation of Open Access to Scholarly Journals’ The signing of OA 2020 initiative is not only an affirmation of the open-access concept but also a mark that China Sciencepaper Online will contribute to the open-access of global academic scholarly journals.

According to the Sciencepaper online webpage—introduction, the four main purposes of Sciencepaper Online are elaborating Academic Views, Exchanging Innovative Ideas, Protecting Intellectual Properties, and Fast Sharing Science Papers. After several years of development, it became a one-stop scientific research service platform with papers, journals, scholars, and communities as the four core sections, and rapid positioning of resources through disciplines, institutions, full-text search, and other methods. The submitted papers are reviewed and released on the site after 7 business days (start from the date of the last submission) if the paper is within the scope of Sciencepaper Online’s subject categories, in-line with the national laws/regulations and meeting our formatting requirements. No Service Fee Is Charged for releasing on this site. Today the website hosts 39 specialized fields according to the Classification and code of disciplines. According to standards press of China, Classification and code of disciplines specify the principles, basis, and coding methods of subject classification. The classification objects of this standard are disciplines, which are different from professions and industries. It also specifies that this standard cannot replace various viewpoints in literature, information, book classification, and academics. (English translation by the author) []


In the view of the difficulty in publishing papers in general, the communication among scholars of different languages is narrow, Sciencepaper Online creates a fast, convenient communication platform to promote the latest study results and communication between scholars without delay. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, the Sciencepaper Online platform promises to significantly shorten the review and publication time from 7 business days to 3 days for papers related to the COVID-19 epidemic for basic medicine, clinical medicine, biology, pharmacy, Chinese medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine, preventive medicine, hygiene, and other disciplines.  Sciencepaper Online releases relevant research and shares the research results as quickly as possible. Together with other publishers, a special website releases to the public providing relevant study results about COVID-19 []. The site offers three versions which are simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and English. Considered some people may have no access to computers during the self-quarantine time, it launched the mobile application simultaneously. Meanwhile, as the first preprinted scientific paper and open access website in China, the platform has over 100,000 preprinted papers and a total of 1.2 million-plus scientific papers in the library. All documents are open for free in full text indefinitely from the start of February 2020.



It is a good strategy to open full-text access during the urgent worldwide pandemic time. However, open access (OA) as a long-time movement needs more detailed consideration. Although the site has both the Chinese and the English versions, the English version contains around 5,900 English papers (5,992 papers) which are quite small compared to the 1.2 million-plus scientific papers in the Chinese version. Another challenge is that much of China’s scientific output is still locked behind paywalls.

” The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) funds about 70% of Chinese research articles published in international journals, but China has to buy these back with full and high prices,”

Schiermeier, Q. (2018). China backs bold plan to tear down journal paywalls. Nature, 564(7735), 171+. Retrieved from

Zhang said at the Open Access 2020 conference (Harnack House, Berlin, 3–4 December 2018). It would take a lot of effort to deal with the copyright issues both nationally and internationally.


During the COVID-19 epidemic, more and more scientific research workers joined the epidemic prevention and control actions, with a rigorous academic attitude to study prevention and control strategies and measures, hoping to use the “Sciencepapers Online” platform for fast and free publication. Making the latest research results publicly available and sharing them with relevant people who are concerned about the epidemic nationwide and even worldwide. Through the efforts of each of us and each department, we will accelerate the study of effective methods to contain the epidemic, improve the knowledge level of virus awareness, reduce panic among the people and contribute meager to epidemic prevention and control.


Sciencepaper online: (Chinese version) (English version)

Description of Science paper online:

OA2020. “Expression of interest in the large-scale implementation of open access to scholarly journals.” Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.  

Ministry of education guidance of organization and management of online teaching during the pandemic:

Announcement of free access during COVID-19 pandemic:

Schiermeier, Q. (2018). China backs bold plan to tear down journal paywalls. Nature, 564(7735), 171+. Retrieved from   

Cite as: Shi, A. (2020). [China and open access: Sciencepaper Online]. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. [].

Coronavirus: an idea to identify articles that aren’t OA yet, but could be

As posted to the Global Open Access List, scholcomm and the radical open access list, following is a suggestion for how to identify articles on coronavirus that are not yet open access. The majority of these articles will be in journals that allow author self-archiving, and some may be published by authors covered by open access policies. Communication with authors and/or journals may be helpful to improve the percentage of open access.
A PubMed search for “coronavirus” limited to the past 10 years then limited again to free full-text yields results of 55% free full-text. With no date limit, it’s 46%.
This search will get at research on COVID and the next most relevant research, all the other coronaviruses (mers, sars, common cold), and will be helpful for researchers and medical practitioners anywhere.
China’s early release of the COVID genetic code and even traditional publishers scrambling to make COVID resources free is demonstrating that people get at least some of the points of open access and open research.
It would be interesting to compare publisher responses today with earlier epidemics. If I recall correctly, there is a significant change from responding to pressure to proactively making resources free without OA pressure.
This is progress. It’s not 100% OA but a lot more researchers and practitioners have free access to a lot more of our knowledge than was the case with the 2003 Sars epidemic.
Further pressure might be helpful. Identification and analysis of the 45% PubMed results that are coronavirus but not free full-text would identify suitable targets for gentle pressure. Some such articles may have been written by authors covered by an OA policy. Such a results list would likely yield journal lists and individual articles, many of which could be deposited in repositories thanks to the efforts of green OA advocates.
Librarians and others working from home can send e-mails to authors and it should be possible to add items to repositories remotely. Publishers who are green not gold should ideally work with PMC and can also send e-mails to authors reminding them of the green policy.
Although research on coronavirus is urgent, university researchers who are also teachers are likely swamped due to a sudden shift to online teaching this semester. For this group, it might make sense to time communication after the semester ends.
Just some ideas…
Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2020). Coronavirus: an idea to identify articles that aren’t OA yet, but could be. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

COVID-19 open access and open research: good progress and what is missing

Update April 1: added: NISO’s meta-collection of COVID-19 responses by the information community. In future updates will be moved to the bottom of the post in order to focus on resources.

Update March 31: to avoid confusion, I’ve added a list of the key resources for policy-makers, the general public, researchers and practitioners at the top of this post. The original post is now named “details for open access and scholarly communication specialists” and is intended to help specialists contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and to use  COVID-19 as an ad hoc case study to understand why open access to scholarship matters, assess and further progress on OA. I’ve also added Emerald, an example of best practice in providing free access to a broader range of information such as social sciences and supply chain management.

Key resources

Details for open access and scholarly communication specialists

Major publishers are making research and data directly related to COVID-19 freely available. This is good news, and may reflect progress towards open access over the past two decades, because the arguments for free sharing of information in the context of pandemic are so compelling, as I touched on in this post.

A few examples, current best practices and gaps, will follow, but first, a few notes to explain why we need to move beyond open sharing of directly related resources to include all resources.

  • Scientists working on COVID: while the greatest need is research and data directly on COVID per se, some pieces of the puzzle of solving any scientific problem can come from any branch of scientific inquiry. For example, basic research on how the respiratory system works, viruses and their transmission, may provide clues that will help COVID scientists. Some of this knowledge may be locked up in the print collections of libraries that are closed to limit spread of the virus.
  • Practitioners dealing with the more severe cases are often dealing with patients who have other health issues. Clinical research on the other issues and relevant co-morbidity studies (e.g. when people with the other illness have other types of pneumonia) might save some lives.
  • Educational institutions and governments that want to speed up training of health professionals to cope with the pandemic need the full range of knowledge relating to the health professions, in addition to COVID-specific resources. This includes all of the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), much of the social sciences, as well as arts and humanities for a well-rounded education (e.g. foster creativity through arts, cultural understanding for clinical care through humanities).
  • The pandemic per se raises a great many major secondary challenges, particularly the social challenges of helping entire populations cope with lock-down and the short and medium-term economic challenges. To address these challenges, we need all of our knowledge about communications, information, psychology, culture and history, along with classical and political economics. Part of the immediate solution to help people cope with lockdown is culture and arts. Like the COVID resources, many arts organizations and individual artists are making their works freely available. This is welcome and useful, but raises questions about economic support for artists and the arts so that this can continue; these are economic questions as well as challenges for the arts. We need open access to all of our knowledge to move forward with these secondary challenges. Right now is an excellent time to do this, because some of these secondary challenges are critical to dealing with the pandemic and limiting short and medium-term damage, and because so many researchers everywhere are working from home and would be able to benefit from this access.
  • Libraries are an essential service and have been providing online services for many resources. In the short term, one way to contribute even further: It should be possible to have people work at scanning stations to digitize material not yet online while maintaining social distancing. Correction: safety is a priority. Staff should not be asked to take this on if travel to work presents a risk of infection, for example. This might have to wait until the pandemic is over.

Examples of major publisher COVID-19 related initiatives for comparative purposes follow. Note that I use parent company names first as part of an ongoing effort to help people understand the nature of these organizations, whether publicly traded corporations or privately held businesses, often with multiple divisions of which scholarly publishing forms just one part.

NISO: COVID-19: Response from the Information Community. NISO is developing and growing a meta-collection of responses that include all of the following, and much more. This site is recommended for those looking for resources. The following analysis is limited to a few select examples of good practices.

RELX (Elsevier +): COVID responses across all company divisions, featured prominently on home page; Novel Coronavirus Center “;with the latest medical and scientific information on COVID-19. The center has been set up since the start of the outbreak and is in English and Mandarin. Elsevier has provided full access to this content for PubMed Central”; COVID-19 clinical toolkit; free institutional access to ClinicalKey student platform until the end of June; rapid publication (preprints and data) of COVID-19 related works; data visualization of the impact of the virus on the aviation industry; LexisNexis free, comprehensive COVID-19 related legal news coverage; turned exhibition space in Austria into a functional hospital.

SpringerNature: “As a leading research publisher, Springer Nature is committed to supporting the global response to emerging outbreaks by enabling fast and direct access to the latest available research, evidence, and data.”

informa (Taylor & Francis +): no mention of COVID on parent company home page; Taylor & Francis COVID-19 resource center: microsite that provides “links and references to all relevant COVID-19 research articles, book chapters and information that can be freely accessed on Taylor & Francis Online and Taylor & Francis ebooks in support of the global efforts in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and further research into COVID-19″; prioritizing rapid publication of COVID-19 research.

Wiley offers free access to resources until the end of the Spring 2020 term to help with online education; ” making all current and future research content and data on the COVID-19 Resource Site available to PubMed Central”.

Emerald: free access not only to resources directly related to COVID-19, but also other coronaviruses such as SARS, also “explores the wider impact on society and includes research on healthcare, education, homeworking, SCM and tourism.”


Some best practices beyond making directly relevant resources free from different companies that others could follow:

  • Meta-collection of a discipline-specific list of resources: NISO’s COVID-19 response from the information community
  • Comprehensive, company-wide COVID-19 response: RELX (Elsevier +)
  • Help for educational institutions facing the challenge of suddenly moving online: Wiley
  • Rapid publication: informa (Taylor & Francis +), RELX (Elsevier +)
  • PubMedCentral deposit, facilitating search by researchers and best long-term solution: Wiley, RELX (Elsevier +), Emerald (also available on WHO website)
  • Including wider impact on society: Emerald


  • No hospital for countries most in need (another hospital in Austria is welcome, but there are many other countries with greater needs).
  • Resources beyond those most directly and obviously related to COVID-19.
  • Language: the only language mentioned besides English is RELX / Elsever, and only Mandarin is mentioned.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2020). COVID-19, open access and open research: good progress and wha is missing. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

See also:

Additional publisher resources:

American Association of Publishers (AAP) What publishers are doing to help during the coronavirus. (thanks to the Open Access Tracking Project)

Related SKC / IJPE posts:

Morrison, H. (2020). COVID-19, open access and open research: good progress and what is missing. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Morrison, H. (2007). Needed: open access, open science. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Reflections on COVID-19 and OA: materials now, advocacy later

Reflections on COVID-19 and open access, March 23, 2020:

The need to address common problems affecting all or much of humanity is one of the compelling reasons for open access. Given major issues of concern today, particularly climate change (and the short-term need to focus on the current pandemic), this makes OA, along with open data and other innovations in scholarly communication, urgent.

The immediate need is to open up access to scholarly material and data that is directly relevant to the epidemic, as well as to freely share cultural materials that will help people cope with social isolation. Many of my colleagues are already doing this. Thank you!

In my opinion, the best time to have a broader advocacy-oriented conversation for the public at large will be in a few months (except in countries like China and South Korea that are ahead in addressing the pandemic). This is because the immediate focus for most of us needs to be slowing the pandemic (flattening the curve) to avoid overwhelming health systems as much as possible, address shortages of medical equipment and supplies, and to allow time for research on treatments and development of vaccines. People in my country are undergoing unprecedented massive social change in a short period of time. Collectively, we need time to grasp that this really is serious, learn about the illness, how to prevent and deal with it, and adjust to the need for social distancing and isolation.

For the benefit of colleagues in the OA movement, following are copies of 2 posts that I wrote on this subject on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics (in 2007, and 2012), with some links (that I haven’t checked).

Needed: Open Access, Open Science

Jim Till’s post on Open Access Science and Science Policy on Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, nicely sums up one of the most important reasons why we need open access.

The most rapid advances in science come with open sharing of information, and collaboration. That is how the world’s scientists accomplished the mapping of a human genome in a matter of years. If traditional publishing practices had been followed instead of open sharing, it seems likely that mapping the human genome would have taken decades, if not centuries.

Our world shares some issues on a global basis; some of these are, or will become, urgent. One example is global warming; surely this needs the kind of open sharing and focus on the problem that went into the human genome project.

Another example is bird flu. The more our neighbours know about viruses, the better equipped they are for early identification and dealing with an epidemic, the lesser the chances that the epidemic will arrive at our shores.

We will save money with an open scholarly communications system, as preventing people from reading has significant costs. However, even if it did cost more, the question would not be how could we afford OA, but rather how could we not.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2007). Needed: open access, open science. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
(If citing Jim Till, please cite Till / Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure.

Why accelerate discovery? reasons why we need open access now

One of the benefits of open access is accelerating discovery. This benefit is most evident with libre open access (allowing for re-use and machine assistance via text and data mining), and particularly in evidence with little or no delay from time of discovery to time of sharing of work.

There are always many reasons for accelerating discovery – here are just a few examples of why we need full, immediate, libre, OA, and why we need it NOW:

Multiple drug resistance: we have developed a range of drugs that has worked for us in the past few decades to combat bacteria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. Now we are seeing increasing levels of resistance to antibiotics and others drugs, including anti-malarial drugs. Maintaining the health gains of the past few decades will take more than continuing with current solutions; we need more research, and the faster we can do this, the better the odds of staving off the next epidemic.

Another example of why we need to accelerate discovery, and we need to move to accelerated discovery fast, is the need to find solutions to climate change and cleaner, more efficient energy. We literally cannot afford to wait.

So as much as some of us might wish to give current scholarly publishers time to adjust to a full libre open access environment, this is a luxury that we cannot afford.

These examples of acceleration will likely provide new business opportunities, too. If this happens, it is a welcome, albeit secondary, benefit.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2012). Why accelerate discovery? Reasons why we need open access now. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Open peer review discussion

Thank you to Heather Staines from MIT’s Knowledge Futures Group for initiating this discussion in response to an invitation to participate in an open peer review process of the OA Main 2019 dataset and its documentation on the SCHOLCOMM list (the invitation was also sent to GOAL and the Radical Open Access List) and for permission to post her e-mails on Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

Original e-mail (Heather Morrison to SCHOLCOMM, Jan. 7, 2020):


** January 15 suggested deadline **

This is a reminder that open peer review is being sought for the Sustaining the Knowledge Common’s project OA main 2019 dataset and its documentation. For those who may not have time for a thorough peer review, a set of 6 questions is provided and responses to any of the questions would be welcome. This is an opportunity to participate in an experimental approach to two innovations in scholarly communication: a particular approach to open peer review, and peer review of a dataset and its documentation. The latter is considered important to encourage and reward researchers for data sharing.

Although full open peer review is the default, if anyone would like to remain anonymous this should be reasonably easy to accommodate by having a friend or colleague forward your comments with an indication of their anonymity.

January 15 is the deadline but if anyone interested would like to participate and needs more time, just let me know. Thank you to those who have already provided comments.

Details and materials can be found here:


Dr. Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa
Principal Investigator, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons, a SSHRC Insight Project
Heather.Morrison at
[On research sabbatical July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020]

Heather Staines, first response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Hi Heather:

I took a look at your open peer review survey. Very interesting!

I did a blog post during peer review week on collaborative community review. I thought you might find it interesting:

[image omitted]

Collaborative Community Review on PubPub · The Knowledge Futures Commonplace

I interviewed the authors of three MIT Press books (coming 2020) who used open peer review on our open source platform, PubPub. If this would ever be helpful for you in pursuing future surveys or experiences, please do let me know.


Heather [Staines]
MIT Knowledge Futures Group

Heather Morrison response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Thank you, your blog post is very interesting.

I see tremendous potential for online collaborative writing and annotations. For example, last year I had students write crowdsourced online essays in class; students were asked to find one interesting recent article on privacy, prepare notes, and write a collaborative “current issues in privacy” in class. I have participated in online annotation peer review in the past.

However, I have some concerns about the annotation and collaborative writing approaches to peer review. My reasons, in case this is of interest:

An annotation approach, in my experience, invites and encourages wordsmithing and focus on minor issues and makes it difficult to contribute at a deeper level (e.g. issues of substance, critique of fundamental underlying ideas).

Depending on the project, individual, and group, the optimal approach might be collaborative writing or individual voice. In the area of open access and scholarly communication, I have a unique perspective and consider this my most important contribution. This gets lost in collaborative writing. For this reason, I write as an individual (or co-author as supervisor with students) in this area.

Although in the past I have participated in the online annotation approach to open peer review, I have been disappointed because my comments (well-thought-out comments by an expert in the field) have been ignored, not only dismissed but not even acknowledged in the final version. This is a waste of my time, and I argue that it is not appropriate to present a final version under such circumstances as having passed a peer review process. Also, in recent years I have noticed a tendency to require reviewers to agree to open licensing conditions that I have object to; this for me is sufficient reason not to participate. [A brief explanation of several key lines of argument on this topic can be found here].

One of my reasons and incentives for open peer review is to claim credit for this work; for example, this published peer review is an example of what I would like to gain from open peer review:
[Morrison, H. (2019). Peer review of Pubfair framework. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from]

This is not for everyone, and I would not want to do this with every review, but occasional publication of such reviews opens up possibilities for study of the peer review process and allows me to appropriately claim my careful work in this area.

In the process of transforming scholarly communication I see fundamental questions about why we approach things the way we do, and how we might do things better, that I would like to see opened up for discussion. My blogpost / open invitation approach is deliberate; I consider development of platforms / checklist approaches as premature. This is developing technical solutions when, to me, we should be figuring out what the problems are.

This discussion should be part of the open peer review process. I am thinking of posting this response to my blog. May I post your e-mail as well?


Dr. Heather Morrison

Heather Staines, second response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Hi again:

Thank you for the quick and thoughtful response. Given some of your perspectives, you may also be interested in this companion piece, also from Peer Review Week, Making Peer Review More Transparent

I agree with you that there are challenges around an annotation-based approach. Prior to my role here at KFG, I was Head of Partnerships at Hypothesis (so I’m all about the annotation!). I continue to watch the evolution of annotation in the peer review space. Have you seen the Transparent Review in Preprints project:

I’m fine with your posting my previous (and current) emails, along with your responses. I hope we might cross paths sometime to discuss it further.


Heather [Staines]

[square brackets indicates minor changes from original e-mails]

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2020). Open peer review discussion. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from
OR, if referring specifically to the contributions of Staines:
Staines, H. (2020). As cited in Morrison, H. (2020). Open peer review discussion. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from

Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2019

2019 was another great year for open access! Of the 57 macro-level global OA indicators included in The Dramatic Growth of Open Access, 50 (88%) have growth rates that are higher than the long-term trend of background growth of scholarly journals an d articles of 3 – 3.5% (Price, 1963; Mabe & Amin, 2001). More than half had growth rates of 10% or more, approximately triple the background growth rate, and 13 (nearly a quarter) had growth rates of over 20%.

Newer services have an advantage when growth rates are measured by percentage, and this is reflected in the over 20% 2019 growth category. The number of books in the Directory of Open Access Books tops the growth chart by nearly doubling (98% growth); bioRxiv follows with 74% growth. A few services showed remarkable growth on top of already substantial numbers. As usual, Internet Archive stands out with a 68% increase in audio recordings, a 58% increase incollections, and a 48% increase in software. The number of articles searchable through DOAJ grew by over 900,000 in 2019 (25% growth). OpenDOAR is taking off in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and overall, with more than 20% growth in each of these categories, and SCOAP3 also grew by more than 20%.

The only area indicating some cause for concern is PubMedCentral. Although overall growth of free full-text from PubMed is robust. A keyword search for “cancer” yields about 7% – 10% more free full-text than a year ago. However, there was a slight decrease in the number of journals contributing to PMC with “all articles open access”, a drop of 138 journals or a 9% decrease. I have double-checked and the 2018 and 2019 PMC journal lists have been posted in the dataverse in case anyone else would like to check (method: sort the “deposit status” column and delete all Predecessor and No New Content journals, then sort the “Open Access” column and count the number of journals that say “All”. The number of journals submitting NIH portfolio articles only grew by only 1. Could this be backtracking on the part of publishers or perhaps technical work underway at NIH?

Full data is available in excel and csv format from: Morrison, Heather, 2020, “Dramatic Growth of Open Access Dec. 31, 2019”,, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1


Price, D. J. de S. (1963). Little science, big science. New York: Columbia University Press.

Mabe, M., & Amin, M. (2001). Growth dynamics of scholarly and scientific journals. Scientometrics, 51(1), 147–162.

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series. It is cross-posted from The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (n.d.). Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2019. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics. Retrieved from Cross-posted to Sustaining the Knowledge Commons

Sabinet – Comprendre le fonctionnement de l’industrie de l’information en Afrique

De nos jours, les sites web constituent des supports importants pour la diffusion d’information. Les entreprises s’attèlent à donner une visibilité à leurs produits. Les plateformes sont les lieux où les compagnies proposent une variété de produits. L’industrie de l’information en Afrique dans leur conversion au numérique utilise des plateformes pour proposer des services. C’est l’exemple de Sabinet qui est une plateforme hybride qui publie des revues africaines en ligne depuis 2001 (Sabinet, 2019). Elle commercialise trois Produits:

  • Service bibliothécaire: Catalogage – l’interconnexion – gestion des bibliothèques, etc.  
  • Service d’information: 500 revues en ligne – 150 000 articles spécialisées de recherche complétée, de thèses & de Mémoires – Articles de médias et textes législatifs, etc.
  • Service de numérisation: Du scannage à la gestion des données.

La collection est composée de 10 suivantes disciplines: Business and Finance, Education, Labour, Law, Medicine and Health, Science – Technology and Agriculture, Religion, Social Sciences and Humanities et Juta’s Law Journals (Sabinet, (c), 2019).

Notre objectif dans ce travail est de présenter le fonctionnement de Sabinet en suivant les quatre principaux éléments de critères d’évaluations pour les ressources électroniques sur le Web de The Charleston Advisor (2019) (Contenu, Tarif, Options du contrat / caractéristiques, Possibilité de recherche) (The Charleston Advisor, 2019).

Nous allons découvrir le contenu de Sabinet en présentant dans un premier temps, le service bibliothécaire, le service d’information et le service de numérisation. Dans un deuxième temps, nous indiquons les dispositions contractuelles notamment, les dispositions relatives aux prêts entre bibliothèques, redistribution des informations, ou autres questions particulières qui accompagnent les différents services que Sabinet offre à ses clients. Notamment l’interface utilisateur et le moteur de recherche ainsi que quelles conditions d’accès aux produits.

1 – Présentation de Sabinet

Sabinet est une entreprise de l’industrie de l’information en Afrique du Sud. Sa mission est de faciliter l’accès à l’information et de faire en sorte que les bibliothèques en Afrique. La compagnie fonctionne par actionnariat (Institutions 49%, Personnel 37%, Fiducie 9%, Particuliers 5%). Le conseil d’administration est composé de 10 membres et une équipe de gestion de 8 membres. 213 éditeurs issus de 12 pays publient 500 revues (350 000 articles). De ses 500 revues, 164 sont en accès libre, 336 revues sont accédées par souscription (Sabinet, (b), 2019).

L’un des services que propose Sabinet à ses clients est la gestion des bibliothèques. Ce qui lui permet le catalogage et l’interconnexion.

Services aux bibliothèques

Sabinet fournit une variété de services à tous les types de bibliothèques. Elle offre le catalogage et l’acquisition de l’information pour les bibliothèques pour simplifier et soutenir leur processus de développement de leurs collections. Sabinet propose des services aux bibliothèques incluant l’interconnexion et les systèmes de gestion des bibliothèques. Elle procure des plateformes de collaboration de ressources entre les bibliothèques. Un service de partage de ressources basé sur le Web pour les bibliothèques de l’Afrique australe, «the ReQuest interlending service» facilite l’accès aux ressources hébergées par les bibliothèques, en permettant l’emprunt et le prêt entre les institutions. Le prêt inter-bibliothèque «WorldShare» d’OCLC relie les utilisateurs aux collections de milliers de bibliothèques via le plus grand réseau de prêts inter-bibliothèques au monde. Sabinet est un site de partage de documents d’échange d’articles. Elle fournit un emplacement unique et sécurisé où les bibliothèques de prêt du monde entier peuvent placer les documents. Hormis le service aux bibliothèques, Sabinet gère également un service d’information dans lequel les éditeurs peuvent publier leurs revues.

Services d’information

            Sabinet offre des revues en ligne provenant ou se rapportant à l’Afrique. Ce service est l’une des collections les plus complètes et consultables en ligne en texte intégral. Elle contient du contenu juridique sud-africain, ainsi qu’un service d’archivage des médias (SA Media). SA Media est un service de recherche de nouvelles et de coupures de presse qui couvre rétrospectivement les principales publications en Afrique du Sud, de 1978 à nos jours. La collection de presses SA Media comprend plus de 4,5 millions d’articles. Avec une moyenne de 2 500 nouveaux articles ajoutés chaque semaine, SA Media est un outil de recherche qui donne accès aux publications traditionnelles locales (Sabinet, (f) 2019).


Nombre Disciplines OA N S T Total
1 Social Sciences and Humanities 37 122 0 0 159
2 Science Technology & Agriculture 28 78 0 0 106
3 Medicine and Health 16 70 0 0 86
4 Business and Finance 14 75 0 0 89
5 African Journal Archive 127 54 0 0 181
6 Law 17 38 0 0 55
7 Labour 6 14 0 0 20
8 Religion 5 26 0 0 31
9 Education 3 13 0 0 16
10 Juta’s Law Journals 0 16 0 0 16
  Total 253 506 0 0 759

La collection de Sabinet est composée de 10 disciplines. Les champs de African Journal Archive (181) et de (Social Sciences and Humanities (159)) arrivent en tête du nombre des catégories de sujet et sont toutes évalués par les pairs (peer reviews). Sabinet s’adresse spécifiquement aux chercheurs et aux bibliothèques. Cette compagnie soutient les écoles secondaires et primaires à travers des dons de livres spécialisés. Dans ce contexte, Sabinet propose de numériser les documents papier des différentes institutions ou compagnies pour leur donner une visibilité en ligne.


Sabinet offre un service de numérisation personnalisé pour les besoins des bibliothèques. L’équipe chargée de la numérisation dispose d’un équipement de pointe qui leur permet de créer des répliques électroniques parfaites du matériel d’origine. Environ 13 000 pages A4 détachées ainsi que 1 200 pages liées peuvent être numérisées quotidiennement (Sabinet, (h) 2019). Sabinet dispose d’un système (CONTENTdm®) qui donne accès aux collections numériques sur le Web, plus rapidement. Il peut gérer tout format – archives d’histoire locale, journaux, livres, cartes, bibliothèques de diapositives ou audio / vidéo.  Ce système fournit une solution complète pour les archives historique, les bibliothèques de diapositives, les articles «nés-numériques», les journaux, les livres, les lettres, les cartes, les thèses et les dissertations électroniques et les fichiers audio / vidéo. Il permet l’interopérabilité. Autrement dit, il est compatible avec les systèmes existants, locaux, régionaux, nationaux et internationaux. Il est compatible aux normes ISO, notamment : Unicode, Z39.50, Dublin Core®, XML, JPEG2000, etc. (Sabinet, (i) 2019).

Ces services ont pour objectif de fournir et de garantir les meilleures conditions de travail pour les usagers. Les dispositions techniques de navigation et d’accès à la documentation sont proposées à tous les souscripteurs qui souhaitent travailler avec Sabinet.

2 – Dispositions contractuelles

La plateforme Sabinet est hybride, certains articles sont payants. L’accès aux documents payants est soit par abonnement soit directement (open accès). Pour gérer le flux de clients, une souscription avec un «username» et un mot de passe sont exigés. Il y a un panier dans lequel tout souscripteur peut collectionner les articles qu’il souhaite acheter (Sabinet (e), 2019). Le système de fonctionnement de Sabinet est entièrement basé sur des logiciels et des technologies Open Source. Par exemple, Counter fournit le code de pratique qui permet aux éditeurs et aux fournisseurs de signaler l’utilisation de leurs ressources électroniques de manière cohérente. Cela permet aux bibliothèques de comparer les données reçues de différents éditeurs et de fournisseurs. Counter maintient les registres de conformité qui répertorient les éditeurs et les fournisseurs qui ont passé une vérification indépendante de leurs statistiques d’utilisation.

EZproxy est un autre outil qui est installé sur un serveur. Il sert d’intermédiaire entre l’usager et le fournisseur de ressources numériques. L’adresse du serveur sur lequel est installé EZproxy est déclarée auprès des fournisseurs de contenus qui autorisent alors l’accès à tout utilisateur arrivant depuis ce serveur. L’authentification est confiée à l’établissement responsable d’EZproxy, via un annuaire LDAP. EZproxy fonctionne en modifiant dynamiquement les URL dans les pages Web fournies par le fournisseur. Il configure l’accès pour que l’interaction et l’engagement des utilisateurs avec la bibliothèque soient les mêmes, où qu’ils se trouvent et quand ils choisissent de travailler.

 Le processus d’installation est sécurisé pour les utilisateurs, il n’est pas nécessaire pour les utilisateurs de modifier les paramètres de leur navigateur ou de reconfigurer leur PC. L’utilisateur se connecte au contenu sans de multiples barrières. Le mot de passe est supprimé. EZproxy peut être configuré avec les principaux services d’authentification – LDAP, SIP et Shibboleth, de sorte que l’utilisateur n’ait pas à se souvenir de plusieurs mots de passe.

Les services de ce site sont compatibles avec les produits du «link resolvers/OpenURL» et des principaux systèmes de bibliothèque, y compris ceux de Serials Solutions, ExLibris, EBSCO et OCLC. Le «link resolvers/OpenURL» permet aux systèmes de bibliothèque de se lier au niveau de l’article du journal (ou aux titres de livres) en utilisant une syntaxe OpenURL. L’utilisation de cette méthode est avantageuse, en particulier lors de la liaison avec un contenu récemment publié puisqu’il ne nécessite pas que l’article soit préalablement téléchargé (Sabinet, (g) 2019). 

Cette initiative internationalement acceptée facilite l’enregistrement et la déclaration des statistiques d’utilisation en ligne de manière cohérente et crédible. Le service devient plus simple pour les clients afin de comprendre et d’analyser comment les livres électroniques et d’autres matériaux électroniques sont utilisés. Lorsque les rapports d’utilisation ont les mêmes types de données et sont formatés de la même manière, ils peuvent être comparés les uns aux autres et peuvent être automatiquement récupérés dans les systèmes locaux (NISO, 2019).

Outre ces dispositions techniques, Sabinet propose aux utilisateurs un moteur de recherche performant qui facilite la navigation.

L’interface utilisateur et le moteur de recherche

Le site web de Sabinet demande une inscription pour naviguer sans restrictions. Au niveau de la principale page qui est intitulée «Sabinet : Faciliting Access to Information», six (6) menus permettent de se connecter et de visiter le site. L’onglet «Home» raccourcit l’accès à cinq (5) menus. Par exemple, «About» présente entre autres la mission, l’équipe dirigeante, etc. «Products and Services» énumère le programme de ses trois services en l’occurrence : Library Solutions, Information Services and Digitization. Ensuite, le «Support» définit les différentes informations les politiques d’accès, d’authentification et des pratiques de prêts entre les autres bibliothèques. «New and Events» fournit les informations sur les activités et communications du site. Quant à «Corporate Social Investment», il décrit le projet de Sabinet.

En plus de ces menus sur la page, trois services (African Studies Collection, Online journal, News Services) sont proposés. African Studies Collection est une collection d’un large éventail de revues spécialisées, de médias et de contenus législatifs émanant du continent africain. Online journal propose des revues en ligne en provenance ou à destination de l’Afrique. Sabinet propose un nouveau service (News Services) personnalisé de recherche d’informations en ligne et de coupures de presse pour répondre aux divers besoins.

Ce nouveau service comprend:

La nouvelle base de données de African News Agency (ANA). Elle comprend : des rapports en texte intégral de novembre 2015 à ce jour sur l’actualité sud-africaine et africaine. Elle donne accès aux articles de presse importants de l’ancienne SAPA (ANA est le nouveau nom de SAPA). Ces articles  sont issus de cinq disciplines clés: la politique, l’économie, les entreprises et les marchés, le sport ainsi que l’actualité générale (qui comprend le mode de vie, les célébrités, les tribunaux et la criminalité). Les nouvelles des agences suivantes sont diffusées via l’Agence de presse africaine: ANA, ANA-Xinhau, ANA-dpa international et ANA-Associated Press.

Pour obtenir des informations sur les éditeurs, la collection, les publications, etc., il faut se rendre à la page intitulée «Sabinet African Journals» avec 7 menus : 

  • le menu «A-Z Publications» donne la liste des revues ou bien montre comment soumettre un article;
  • le menu «Collections» donne la liste des collections principales;
  • le menu «Open Access» indique les revues Open Access; de la politique d’accès, etc.
  • le menu «Publishers» dresse la liste des éditeurs;
  • le menu «For Librarians» présente les politiques d’accession aux informations pour les bibliothécaires;
  • l’onglet «Help» revient sur les conditions de souscription et du guide des utilisateurs;
  • enfin, le menu «Shopping Cat» permet de réserver les articles que l’on souhaite avoir.

En plus de ces menus sur la page, un autre onglet situé au-dessus de la bande à menus donne accès à «Advanced Search». Elle permet de filtrer les recherches par collection, par date, etc. (Sabinet, (d), 2019). Les utilisateurs de la bibliothèque peuvent récupérer des articles ou des chapitres de livres via un prêt entre bibliothèques. Cette possibilité d’accès est possible grâce à un dispositif technique diversifié, mais aussi, à un modèle d’affaires que propose Sabinet.


Le modèle d’affaires de Sabinet est basé sur trois possibilités d’accès à la collection. Il y a premièrement, des abonnés et deuxièmement des non-abonnés. Les abonnés ont accès à l’intégralité des revues et les non-abonnés payent pour accéder à des contenus. Troisièmement, on trouve les revues à accès libre. Les revues en accès libres sont divisées en trois modes d’accès : le «Gold Open Access» est dépourvu de toutes restrictions. Le «Green Open Access» est un accès semi-libre. Les éditeurs facturent des frais d’abonnement pour les récents numéros pendant une période donnée. Ensuite, l’accès devient gratuit.

Le troisième mode d’accès libre est «Article level Open Access». Ici, certains articles sont libres d’accès et d’autres sont payants. Pour soumettre un article à Sabinet, l’organisation demande à tout souscripteur de contacter directement un éditeur via leur site pour effectuer l’envoi. Il est accessible par ordinateur PC ou Machintosh. L’essentiel de sa clientèle est composé de bibliothèques locales et internationales, ainsi que des organismes publics et privés (Sabinet, (e) 2019). Les revenus de Sabinet proviennent aussi des frais de souscription ou des abonnements des bibliothèques.

       Modèle d’affaires

S Titles Subscribed To 0
OA Open Access Content 164
T Free Trial Content 0
N Titles Not Subscribed To 360


Sabinet a pour mission de promouvoir l’accès à l’information des recherches en Afrique. Dans ce sens, la plateforme remplit parfaitement ses objectifs. Elle diffuse 500 revues dont plus 164 en accès libre, 336 par souscription avec des frais pour le téléchargement. La grande partie des revues est issue de l’Afrique du Sud avec 184 sur 213 éditeurs. Sabinet offre une variété de services avec d’importantes possibilités d’accès. Cependant, l’accès renferme des imperfections qui ne facilitent pas l’utilisation des services. Une des  particularités est que les menus de l’interface ne donnent pas accès facilement aux revues. La fonctionnalité «Home» propose cinq menus dans lesquels il faut aller chercher pour trouver la liste des revues, des éditeurs, etc. De plus, l’on ne peut pas obtenir ces revues par pays sur une facette. Sabinet est une compagnie qui offre également d’autres services payants comme la numérisation, le catalogage, des documents des bibliothèques, etc.  Cependant, les frais de publication ou autres frais de service ne sont pas affichés.

Les produits compétitifs de Sabinet sont leurs trois services phares, notamment : la numérisation, le service d’information et le service aux bibliothèques. Ces produits permettent de soutenir leurs différents projets de bienfaisance aux établissements scolaires, à la création de l’emploi  et à la diffusion des produits de recherches de l’Afrique (Sabinet, (f), 2019). 


NISO, (2019). How the Information world Connects – SUSHI FAQs: General Questions Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet,  (2019) (a). Sabinet : Facilitating Access to Information Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet,  (2019) (b). Ownership. Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet, (2019) (c).Collection Contents Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet,  (2019) (d).  Sabinet African Journalsé le 20/11/2019
Sabinet,  (2019) (e). EZproxy
Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet, (2019) (f). SA Media Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet, (2019) (g). Librarian FAQ. s Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet, (2019) (h). Scannage services. Visité le 20/11/2019
Sabinet, (2019) (i). About Digitisation. Visité le 20/11/2019
The Charleston Advisor, (2019) (j). TCA Scoring Guide. Visité le 20/11/2019

OA APC longitudinal survey 2019

OA APC longitudinal survey 2019


This post presents results of the 2019 OA APC longitudinal survey and extends an invitation to participate in an open peer review process of the underlying data and its documentation. One thing that is not changing is that most OA journals in DOAJ do not charge APCs: 10,210 (73%) of the 14,007 journals in DOAJ as of Nov. 26, 2019 do not have APCs. The global average APC in 2019 is 908 USD. This figure has changed little since 2010, however this consistency masks considerably underlying variation. For example, the average APC in 2019 for the 2010 sample has increased by 50%, a rate three times the inflation rate for this time frame. The tendency to charge or not to charge, how much is charged and whether prices are increasing or decreasing varies considerably by journal, publisher, country of publication, language and currency. One surprise this year was the top 10 countries by number of OA journals in DOAJ. As usual, Europe, the US and Latin America are well represented, but Indonesia is now the second largest country in DOAJ and Poland, Iran, and Turkey are among the top 10, perhaps reflecting the work of the DOAJ ambassadors. Pricing per journal shows mixed trends; most journals did not change price between 2018 and 2019, but there were price decreases as well as increases. The UK’s Ubiquity Press stands out as having a relatively low APC (a fraction of Oxford’s, another UK-based publisher) and no price increases.

Documentation, link to dataset and open peer review invitation


The Sustaining the Knowledge Commons team has been gathering data on OA APCs since 2014 and merging data from DOAJ and other researchers into the main dataset. Singh & Morrison (2019) note that the majority of fully OA journals do not charge; of those that do, the global average APC is 908 USD, a figure that has changed very little since 2010. In contrast, the mode (most common APC) shows quite a bit of variation and the maximum has been increasing for both APC and APPC (article page processing charge). This suggests that there is something else going on.

Shi & Morrison’s (2019) findings illustrate that charging trends can vary considerable by publisher. 4 pairs of publishers and sub-publishers are compared. Two Wolters Kluwer imprints, Medknow and Lippincott, are quite different in APCs. Medknow journals tend not to charge, and those that have APCs tend to have relatively low APCs. Lippincott journals tend to charge, at above-average rates. Two universities, Indonesia’s Universitas Negeri Semerang (UNS) (now one of the largest publishers in DOAJ) and Oxford are compared. Oxford is one of the world’s oldest publishers, is UK based, and tends to charge APCs at above-average rates. UNS appears to be a newcomer to online publishing, uses the open source Open Journal System; UNS journals tend not to charge, and when they do charge, prices are relatively low. Oxford was also compared with another UK-based publisher, Ubiquity Press. Ubiquity Press is a new not-for-profit designed to produce OA works and also to achieve cost efficiency. It appears that Ubiquity is having success with the latter, as their average APC is a fraction of that of Oxford. MDPI and Hindawi are compared; both are new commercial APC-based publishers, but the average APC is much higher for Hindawi than for MDPI. This evidence supports the hypothesis that the global average APC masks considerable variation based on publisher history and strategy.

Avasthi & Morrison (2019) explore one of these publishers, Medknow, in more depth, and ask whether this approach is the best for India, the original home of the publisher before acquisition by Wolters Kluwer. It appears that the reason most Medknow journals do not have publication charges is because of numerous partnerships between Wolters Kluwer and scholarly societies and universities. Medknow has expanded beyond India, and has grown quite a bit in both 2018 and 2019. The number of “title not found” and a couple of “risky URL” (a code for when the URL on the publisher’s website leads to a website that is clearly not a journal and gives the appearance of a possible scam) raises some questions about whether the quality of service these journals receive are what they expect and deserve through a partnership with one of the world’s oldest EU-based commercial scholarly publishers.

Pashaei & Morrison (2019a) compare APCs by original currency. Over half of APC charging journals have USD as original currency, and 5 currencies account for more than 90% of APCs. Average prices by currency are translated into USD, and these prices vary quite a bit. APCs in GBP and more than twice as high as APCs in EUR.

Pashaei & Morrison (2019b) compare APCs (pricing and tendency to charge) by language. The tendency to charge varies quite a bit by language (first language listed in DOAJ). For example, 98% of journals in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Czech do not have publication fees, while about a third of journals in English or Persian have APCs. The average APC for English-language journals is more than 3 times the second highest language-basis APC (Catalan).

Pashaei & Morrison (2019c) studied the correlation of country in DOAJ, OA journal publishing, and APC. As expected, Europe, the US, and Latin America are well represented in DOAJ. There were some surprises. Indonesia is now the second largest country in DOAJ, and Poland, Iran, and Turkey, are among the top 10. This may reflect the work of the DOAJ ambassadors’ program. Tendency to charge and average APC both vary quite a bit depending on the publisher in question.

Morrison (2019a) studied charging trends for journals with APC amounts for both 2018 and 2019 and found considerable variation. Most of these journals did not change in APC, but many decreased prices and many more increased prices. The tendency to increase prices was more marked for journals listed in DOAJ as of Jan. 31, 2019. An analysis of trends and average APCs for publisher with 2 or more journals in this set revealed very different patterns. A few publishers did not increase prices. Ubiquity Press stands out as having a relatively low price and no price increase. For some publishers, tendency to decrease and increase prices cancel each other out. 6 publishers had average price increases of more than 10%: Wolters Kluwer Medknow, MDPI, Oxford, Elsevier, BioMedCentral, and Frontiers.

Morrison (2019b) studied status and charging trends for journals included in Solomon & Björk’s (2012) 2010 study, limited to a sample of journals listed in DOAJ and charging APCs at that time. The majority of these journals are still active and charging. The average APC has increased in this time frame by 50%, more than 3 times the inflation. Not all journals have increased in price; some decreased and others remained the same price. Nearly a quarter of these journals have ceased or are not found. Most of this attrition appears to be due to new OA APC-based commercial publishers with a start-up strategy of publishing a wide range of journals, then retiring unsuccessful journals.

Kakou (2019) analyzes African based Sabinet using an approach inspired by The Charleston Advisor’s review series. Brief highlights: Sabinet’s mission is to promote access to information on African research. In this sense, the platform fills its objectives perfectly. It disseminates 500 journals of which 164 are open access, 336 subscription-based with pay-per-view. Most of the journals are from South Africa. Sabinet offers a number of services, including library management services.

Full documentation, link to open dataset, and invitation to participate in open peer review

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Dataset: Morrison, Heather, et al. 2019, “OA APC longitudinal study dataset 2019”,, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1

Cite as: Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA APC longitudinal survey 2019. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.


Avasthi, N & Morrison, H (2019). Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India? Sustaining the Knowledge commons.

Kakou, T.L. (2019). Sabinet – Comprendre le fonctionnement de l’industrie de l’information en Afrique. Soutenir les savoirs communs.

Morrison, H. (2019a). APC price changes 2019 – 2018 by journal and by publisher. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Morrison, H. (2019b). 2010 – 2019 APC update. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019a). Open Access in 2019: Original currencies for article processing charge. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019b). DOAJ 2019: Language analysis. Sustaining the knowledge commons

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019c). Open Access in 2019: Which countries are the biggest publishers of OA journals? Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Shi, A & Morrison, H. (2019). APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019. Sustaining the knowledge

Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Solomon, D. J. and Björk, B. (2012), A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J Am Soc Inf Sci Tec, 63: 1485-1495. doi:10.1002/asi.22673


2010 – 2019 APC update

by Heather Morrison


This is an update of the 2010 study of Solomon & Björk (2012) of a sample of 1,046 journals charging APCs listed in DOAJ at that time. 74% of these journals are still active and actively charging publication fees. The average APC reported by Solomon & Björk was 906 USD; the average in 2019 for the 739 journals for which we have APC data for both years is 1,363 USD. This represents a 50% price increase during this time frame, an increase that is 3 times the inflation rate. Not all journals increased in price; some decreased or remained the same price. Nearly a quarter of the journals (23%) are ceased or not found. Most of this attrition rate can be attributed to new OA APC-based commercial publishers with a start-up strategy involving roll-out of a broad range of journals, with unsuccessful journals being retired.

Download PDF:  2010 update

Research question: what is the status, charging tendency (to charge or not to charge) and pricing trends of these journals?


A subset of the OA Main 2019 Dataset (Morrison et al., 2019) containing Solomon & Björk’s 2010 data was used as the basis for this study. This sample was compared with the 2010 data and journals missing from OA Main (due to having been dropped from DOAJ prior to our study) were added to complete the sample. The current status of journals was developed using a pivot table. Pricing trends for 739 journals (tendency to increase or decrease in price) that are still charging APCs was calculated separately for journals with matching original currency (to avoid conflation with currency fluctuations) and non-matching currency in USD. An attempt was made to estimate APC for the 31 journals currently charging APPC but abandoned as the results did not match the APC trends and there is not enough detail in the 2012 study to be certain that the method of estimating APC was correct.



As illustrated in the following table and chart, the majority (779 or 74%) of the 2010 journals are still active and actively charging publication fees. 242 (23%) titles are ceased or not found. 25 (2%) have a status of other. Of these, 8 journals are now non-charging (no publication fee), for 11 journals it was not possible to determine whether or not there is a charge (no cost found), 2 journals are now hybrid, 3 are inactive, and one has been merged with another journal.

2010 journals by 2019 status
Actively charging 779 74%
Ceased or not found 242 23%
Other 25 2%
Grand Total 1,046

Active APC journals: trends analysis

The average APC reported by Solomon & Björk (2012) for 2010 was 906 USD. 779 of these journals are still active and charging publication fees; of these, 739 are still charging APCs and we were able to identify the amount. The average APC for these 739 journals in 2019 is 1,363 USD. This represents a 50% increase in the average APC for this group of journals. According to the Bank of Canada (n.d.) currency calculator, the cumulative inflation rate from 2010 – 2019 is 16.35% An average increase of 50% is more than 3 times the inflation rate.

Pricing direction trend

Not all journals increased in price. As the following table illustrates, 75% of journals increased in price, 18% decreased in price and 8% had no change in price. Where possible, original currency was used to avoid conflation with currency fluctuations.

Pricing trends by number of journals Matching currency Non-matching currency Total % of total
Journals decreasing in price 56 75 131 18%
No change in price 57 0 57 8%
Price increase 393 158 551 75%
Total l# of journals 506 233 739

Ceased / title not found analysis

Ceased journals

Based on knowledge of the history of pioneering APC OA based publishers, a publisher type analysis was conducted of the 210 ceased journals. 199 or 95% of these journals were developed by such publishers that pursued a strategy of starting out their business with a broad range of journals, then dropping journals that were not successful. 7 or 3% of these journals were started by publishers that have been acquired by other publishers that did not continue all of the others. No pattern was discerned for 4 (2%) of the journals.

2010 journals ceased as of 2019 – publisher type analysis
Publishers with broad range of journals start-up strategy
Bentham open 143
BioMed Central 12
Dove Medical Press 10
Frontiers Media S.A. 3
Hindawi Limited 31
Total broad range strategy 199 95%
Publishers that were acquired by other publishers
Co-Action Publishing 1
Libertas Academica 6
Total publishers acquired by other publishers 7 3%
Academic and Business Research Institute 2
SAGE Publishing 1
SpringerOpen 1
Total other 4 2%
Total ceased journals 210

Title not found

A similar analysis was conducted on the 32 “title not found” journals. There was some overlap in the results; Bentham Open, one of the publishers with a broad range of journals start-up strategy, accounts for half of the total, with BioMedCentral accounting for 3 of the titles.


Bank of Canada (n.d.) Currency calculator.

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Solomon, D. J. and Björk, B. (2012), A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J Am Soc Inf Sci Tec, 63: 1485-1495. doi:10.1002/asi.22673

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2019). 2010 – 2019 APC update. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.