From the STM Association:
In the scholarly publishing world, spring brings the annual return of STM Trends, a future-forward look at the entire ecosystem of scholarly communications by members of the STM Association. STM Trends captures the most impactful changes in research and publishing in a single themed image. This year’s theme: The Beauty of Open at Scale.
In our Annual STM Trends Forecast, we foresee a proliferation of platforms offering Open Access, which is depicted in STM Trends 2026 graphic as open sunflowers. Each sunflower serves certain users including bees, butterflies, birds, influencers, scarecrows, and beehives. Similar to sunflowers, Open Access will open up and blossom the research process for faster dissemination of knowledge and rapid discovery. This year’s graphic is not about business models – it is about how the essence of scholarly communications might change.
The majority of content and other research outputs will be available on multiple platforms, open and free-to-read. Platforms will scale by applying tools like artificial intelligence and text and data mining. Also, the number of different platforms will increase sharply.
In contrast to the current climate, publishers’ content and publishers’ platforms are probably no longer hardwired. We foresee a play of platform proliferation and pluriformity. New types of platforms may emerge, and existing ones may sharpen their profile differently. It will be important for publishers to do the right thing in terms of content syndication, be present on the platforms that matter to their users, and follow the play of interaction between these platforms.
STM’s Annual Trends is created annually by our Future Lab, a discussion forum of over 30 STM members. In a group discussion, participants identify key technology-driven trends that are likely to impact the STM publishing industry in the next three to five years. Our methodology is based on the Delphi-method for technology forecasting. The outcome of this is translated every year into an infographic that looks up to 5 years ahead.