Transition milestones: our Open Access journey

04 April 2022


Our focus at the Society has always been publishing for the community – where the income generated from our journals is returned to support activities which benefit all.

In its 75th year, we prepare for the Society’s founding journal, Microbiology, to become fully Open Access (OA) in 2023. We look back on two years of unprecedented progress and look forward to charting the milestones as our publishing programme becomes predominantly OA, shifting from our reliance on subscriptions.

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OA growth

In 2021, 43% of all articles published across the portfolio were made immediately OA. We have seen significant year-on-year growth (38% more in 2021 than 2020) in the proportion of OA publishing in our journals, putting us on track to exceed an important benchmark – to publish more OA articles than paywalled in 2022.

The success of the Society’s Publish and Read model

The expansion of Publish and Read since 2020 has been a driving force of OA growth. In 2022, the Society has for a second year doubled the number of institutions benefiting from this model, achieving two of our key objectives.

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As more authors benefit from fee-free OA publishing, it drives OA publishing away from a currently APC-dominated model with the associated barriers it presents to authors who struggle to raise the funds themselves, a burden which disproportionately affects early career researchers.

OA impact

From analysing our 2020 and 2021 article performance data, we found that OA articles on average receive twice as many citations and 3.7 times the level of usage (views and downloads) as paywalled articles. Whilst not comparable to some wider, more rigorous studies, the figures from our own portfolio do indicate an enhanced probability of higher impact and enhanced visibility of articles published OA.

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We encourage all our authors who publish OA to take full advantage of the easy ‘share’ options offered by our publishing platform.

Actions to achieving a fully Open future

Our priority as a Society publisher is for OA to become the predominant path to publish research in a way that is both sustainable and serves the needs of microbiology researchers worldwide.  Our plans over the next few years are to:

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“Showing a clear commitment to an open, transparent, and sustainable scholarly communication environment, the Microbiology Society is one of the pioneers in the transition of paywall-based scholarly publishing to open access” Head Librarian, Max Planck Digital Library, a Publish and Read partner since 2021.

Image: Science Photo Library/Dennis Kunkel Microscopy.