Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2017 -- Whether you are a researcher who inveterately reads journals or someone who occasionally glides through the realms of science writing, your looking through scientific publications might well feel like a bumpy flight. Some articles require subscriptions, while others are “open access.” 

This month’s Physics Today should help you understand the turbulence. Journalist David Kramer explains the changes and markets of science publishing in “Steady, strong growth is expected for open-access journals,” which can be accessed (for free) at

The big game changer has been the advent of “open access” (OA) publishing, Kramer explains. But not all open access is created equal. Amongst others, there are the “gold OA journals” that provide all articles online for free without delay. Then there are various nongold or “green” OA journals that offer articles with restrictions or delays for non-subscribers, often up to a year after subscribers have access. 

“Most scientific papers today are or will become available in some fashion as green OA,” Kramer writes. 

Much of the impetus for OA comes from governments or supportive philanthropies, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that insists researchers receiving support publish results in gold OA publications. Governments are deep in the game, too, setting up OA journals like PLOS. The U.S. and Europe have also instituted public repositories, such as the National Institutes of Health-operated PubMed Central. 

Of course, big economic forces are at work, and Kramer offers the latest. One index counts globally 9,300 open access journals from an estimated 33,000-60,000 science journals, while Journal Citations Reports estimates 800 gold OA journals out its survey of 11,000. Notwithstanding the different counts, the macro economics are huge, with STM publishing having estimated yearly revenues of $10 billion dollars in 2015. For editors and writers, too, economics will increasingly be front and center, as publishers see peer review processes cost thousands of dollars per article and researchers increasingly often expect to pay significant OA publishing fees. 

There’s a lot of change, opportunity and improvisation in science publishing to become familiar with, but you can enjoy David Kramer’s “Issues & Events” article from this month’s Physics Today to help steer the way in this uncertain new world of science publishing. 

The article can be accessed for free here:



Physics Today is the flagship publication of the American Institute of Physics, and it includes a mix of in-depth feature articles, news coverage and analysis, and fresh perspectives on scientific advances and ground-breaking research. See


Journal Link: Steady, strong growth is expected for open-access journals