A new Q&A in a series exploring the current state of Open Access has been published. This one is with Sami Kassab, an Executive Director at the investment company Exane BNP Paribas.


Kassab runs the Media Research team covering professional publishing. Amongst the companies he monitors are Reed Elsevier, Thomson Reuters, Informa, John Wiley, Wolters Kluwer, and Pearson.


Currently, Kassab is positive about the sector, arguing that scientific publishing offers “best in class defensive growth in a very resilient industry”.  Kassab believes that Open Access is still a marginal activity and in any case poses neither a short-term nor a long-term threat to large scholarly publishers. In fact, he says, it will enable them to monetise more articles than they have been able to monetise historically.


*Some excerpts:*


“For the big four STM publishers — Elsevier, Wiley, Springer and Informa’s Taylor & Francis — we estimate that OA revenues account for 1% to 10% of STM journal revenues with an average of around 3%.”




“Through our contact with leading OA publishers, we estimate that the pot of money available for funding Gold OA APC is currently growing at 20% p.a. Our tracking of the growth in the number of OA mandates (institutional and funders) registered on ROARMAP shows a similar growth rate (30% in H1 2013 after c.20% in 2012).  Consequently, we believe that both Green OA and Gold OA are likely to continue to grow in the foreseeable future.”




“Victor Hugo argued that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And yet, OA has been around for more than a decade and still lacks any meaningful critical mass. Researchers are reluctant to do the few extra keystrokes that are required for Green OA. High compliance ratio to green OA mandates are not universal. Perhaps, authors are unconvinced by the fundamental merit of the OA model.


“The same goes for institutions. Elsevier has over 4,000 institutional clients around the globe. Less than 300 institutions have signed OA mandates worldwide. In contrast, MOOCs have taken the higher education world by storm with hundreds of institutions experimenting with MOOCs within a few months.”




“At the risk of playing the devil’s advocate, one could say that the image of publishers, especially the largest ones, has actually improved. This view would be consistent with the fact that journal price inflation has come down, that large publishers have invested in new products and technological features (search, visualisation tools, mash-ups, database linking, apps, etc.) and have improved their customer relationship management.”




“[A] as the whole industry switches to Gold OA, we believe that large publishers’ rejection rates are likely to come down. In other words, for large publishers such as Elsevier and Springer, we expect an increase in published output to compensate for lower price points. Overall, as things stand, we do not agree that OA poses a significant threat to publishers, in particular not to their share price developments.”


The Q&A can be read here: http://poynder.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/media-research-analyst-at-exane-bnp.html


Richard Poynder