May 25, 2022

Research Article: “The Transformation of Scientific Journal Publishing: Open Access After The Berlin 12 Conference”

The following full text article was published earlier this month (March 7, 2017).


The Transformation of Scientific Journal Publishing: Open Access After the Berlin 12 Conference


Ralf Schimmer
Head, Scientific Information Provision
Max Planck Digital Library


Information Services & Use
vol. 37, no. 1 (2017)
DOI: 10.3233/ISU-160808


In the last 10–15 years, Open Access has become a shared vision of many if not most of the world’s national and international research councils. Open Access as a principle is very well established in the international discourse on research policies; however, Open Access as a practice has yet to transform the traditional subscription-based publishing system, which is as vigorous and prosperous as ever, despite its inherent restrictions on access and usage and its remarkable detachment from the potentials of a 21st century web-based publishing system. OA2020 is a transformative initiative trying to bring a new approach to the transactional side of the publishing system and the ways in which its cash flow is organized. Publishing and financial data are brought together in a way to demonstrate that such a switch would indeed be feasible. OA2020 lays out the path for how this transformation could happen so that Open Access to research results would finally be a reality from the moment of their publication.

Since 2003, the Berlin Conferences have been nodes in a journey whose rationale is to achieve Open Access (OA) in journal publishing by transforming outdated commercial practices into a post-subscription business model. Until very recently, the principal focus of this initiative has been on generating awareness, creating mandates and devising various practical measures, all predicated on an effort to move the researcher towards OA. At this point, only about 15% of scholarly articles per year are available through OA. This proportion, which currently increases by about one percentage point each year, does not of itself exert any transformative pressure on the subscription system. It therefore seems to be time to change gear and address the challenge from the opposite direction, moving OA towards the researcher.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.