May 27, 2022

Research Article: “The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It”

The following article was published online today by the journal Publications.


The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It


Lisa Matthias
Freie Universität, Berlin

Najko Jahn
University of Göttingen

Mikael Laakso
Hanken School of Economics, HelsinkiSource


Publications 2019, 7(2)
DOI: 10.3390/publications7020023


As Open access (OA) is often perceived as the end goal of scholarly publishing, much research has focused on flipping subscription journals to an OA model. Focusing on what can happen after the presumed finish line, this study identifies journals that have converted from OA to a subscription model, and places these “reverse flips” within the greater context of scholarly publishing. In particular, we examine specific journal descriptors, such as access mode, publisher, subject area, society affiliation, article volume, and citation metrics, to deepen our understanding of reverse flips. Our results show that at least 152 actively publishing journals have reverse-flipped since 2005, suggesting that this phenomenon does not constitute merely a few marginal outliers, but instead a common pattern within scholarly publishing. Notably, we found that 62% of reverse flips (N = 95) had not been born-OA journals, but had been founded as subscription journals, and hence have experienced a three-stage transformation from closed to open to closed. We argue that reverse flips present a unique perspective on OA, and that further research would greatly benefit from enhanced data and tools for identifying such cases.

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29 pages; PDF.

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“Reverse-flip Open Access Journals Dataset”

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.