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The Business of Scientific Publishing: How Journals Make Money And Why It Matters

Dr Ahsanur Rahman, PHD

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The business of scientific publishing is a complex and ever-changing landscape. At its core, scientific publishing is a for-profit enterprise, with journals making money through subscriptions, article processing charges, and advertising. While this model has been successful for many years, it is now being challenged by open access models that make articles freely available to anyone with an internet connection.

The debate over which model is best for science and society is ongoing, but what is clear is that the way journals make money matters a great deal to the future of scientific publishing.

The business of scientific publishing is a complex and often controversial one. Journals make money by charging scientists for the publication of their research papers, and this income allows them to stay afloat and continue operating. However, there is growing concern that this model is not sustainable in the long term, as it puts pressure on scientists to publish in high-impact journals that can charge high prices.

This can lead to a situation where only the most well-funded scientists are able to publish their work, which further exacerbates inequality in the scientific community. There are calls for reform of the scientific publishing system, but so far no consensus has been reached on what this should look like. Some argue that journals should move to a open access model, where papers are freely available to anyone who wants to read them.

Others say that this would be too disruptive and would threaten the quality of peer review. Whatever happens next, it’s clear that the business of scientific publishing will continue to be a contentious issue for years to come.

The Business of Scientific Publishing: How Journals Make Money And Why It Matters
The Business of Scientific Publishing: How Journals Make Money And Why It Matters 4


How Do Scientific Journals Make Money?

Learned societies or publishers publish most scientific journals with the aim to further the progress of science. The business model differs between these two types of publisher, but in both cases the journal makes money through charging subscriptions to institutions or individuals who read and value the content. In the case of learned societies, any surplus generated is used to support other social activities, such as public engagement, grants and fellowships.

Commercial publishers use their profits to reinvest in their business and support other titles in their portfolio. There are a handful of open access (OA) journals which make money in different ways. One common model is for the author or their institution to pay a fee to make their article available OA.

This allows anyone with an internet connection to read and download the article without needing a subscription. Some OA journals also generate income from advertising on their website or selling reprints and merchandise related to individual articles or issues.

Why are Scientific Journals Important?

Scientists use scientific journals to communicate their research findings to other scientists. By publishing their findings in a peer-reviewed journal, they can share their work with others and receive feedback from their peers. This feedback is important for advancing science, as it allows scientists to build on each other’s work and make new discoveries.

Scientific journals are also important for the public dissemination of scientific knowledge. They provide a way for the general public to access scientific research and learn about new discoveries. This is essential for ensuring that the public has accurate information about science and health.

Why Do Scientific Journals Charge to Publish?

There are a number of reasons why scientific journals charge to publish. The first is that it costs money to produce a journal. This includes the cost of printing, binding, and distributing the journal.

It also includes the cost of paying the editors and reviewers who work on each paper. The second reason is that journals need to generate income to sustain themselves. This income allows them to cover their costs and continue operating.

Finally, charging for publication provides an incentive for authors to submit their best work. Journals that charge for publication are more selective and have higher standards than those that don’t charge. This results in better papers being published in these journals, which benefits everyone involved in the scientific process.

Are Science Journals for Profit?

There is a lot of debate surrounding the business model of science journals. Some say they are for profit, while others claim they are not. So, which is it?

Science journals are definitely for profit. They make their money by charging scientists for publishing their research. The more popular the journal, the more money it can charge.

For example, Nature charges around $5,000 per paper, while PLOS ONE charges just $1,350. Of course, there are some costs associated with running a science journal, such as paying the editors and reviewers. But these costs are relatively small compared to the revenue generated from publication fees.

In fact, many journals generate millions of dollars in revenue each year. So if you’re considering submitting your research to a journal, keep in mind that they are in it for the money. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit your work – be aware that you’ll likely have to pay a fee if your paper is accepted.

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Top Academic Journal Publishers

There are many different academic journal publishers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the top five academic journal publishers, based on impact factors and other criteria. 1. Elsevier

Elsevier is a large publisher of both scientific journals and books. It was founded in 1880 and is headquartered in Amsterdam. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and employs more than 7,000 people worldwide.

Its journals have an impact factor of 9.1 overall. 2. Springer Nature Springer Nature is the result of a merger between Springer Science+Business Media and Macmillan Education in 2015.

Springer Nature has more than 50 years experience publishing scientific content, and now publishes over 1,700 journals, includingNatureandPLoS ONE.It also owns the open-access publisher BioMed Central. Springer Nature has an overall impact factor of 8.4 for its journals . 3 Wiley Blackwell

Wiley Blackwell is the largest society-owned publisher globally with 1,600 employees across Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America, and South Africa . Wiley Blackwell publishes approximately 1,500 peer-reviewed journals , including The Cochrane Library , on behalf of over 650 learned societies . It has an overall impact factor of 6 .

4 4 SAGE Publishing SAGE Publishing was founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune .

SAGE Publishing is now part of SAGE Group , a global company with 5 locations around the world . SAGE Publishing publishes approximately 850 peer-reviewed journals , including those from leading social science societies such as Association for Psychological Science ( APS ) , American Sociological Association ( ASA ) , British Academy of Management ( BAM ) , among others SAGE ‘s portfolio includes some well – known titles such as Journal of Marriage & Family , Journal of Educational Psychology , Health Affairs In terms 5 Oxford University Press ( OUP ) OUP is the world’s largest university press with offices in more than 50 countries .

How Do Academic Journals Make Money

There are a few different ways that academic journals make money. The most common way is through subscriptions. Individuals or institutions can subscribe to access all the content in a journal, or just a single issue.

Journals also make money through advertising and article processing charges (APCs). Subscriptions are usually priced according to how much content is published in an issue, with larger and more prestigious journals having higher prices. Advertising is generally sold on a per-issue basis and depends on the size and placement of the ad and the journal’s circulation.

APCs are charged to authors when their articles are accepted for publication and vary widely from journal to journal. Some journals do not charge APCs, relying instead on subscription revenue. Journals generate revenue for their publishers, who use this money to cover operating costs and pay for editorial services.

The amount of money that a journal makes varies greatly, depending on its business model and its audience.

Top Academic Journal Publishers in the World

There are many academic journal publishers worldwide, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the top academic journal publishers and see what they offer. One of the top academic journal publishers is Elsevier.

They publish over 2,000 journals and employ over 7,000 people across the globe. Elsevier is known for their high quality standards and their ability to attract big-name authors. However, they are also criticized for their high prices and lack of transparency.

Another top publisher is Wiley-Blackwell. They publish over 1,500 journals and have a global workforce of over 5,000 people. Wiley-Blackwell is known for their strong customer service and support for authors.

However, they are also criticized for their slow peer review process and lack of editorial innovation. Springer is another leading publisher that produces over 1,300 journals. Springer has a strong international presence and offers authors a wide range of services.

However, they are also criticized for their inflexible copyright policies and lack of author involvement in publishing.

Why Don T Academic Journals Pay Authors

There are a few reasons why academic journals don’t pay their authors. The first reason is that most academic journals are run by volunteer editors and rely on peer-reviewers who also volunteer their time. This means that there is little to no money to pay the articles’ authors.

The second reason is that academic journals are not-for-profit entities, meaning any money they make goes back into running the journal or towards other expenses like publishing fees. Finally, many academics believe that having their work published in a reputable journal is more important than to be paid for it. While some journals do offer small stipends or honorariums, these are usually not enough to cover the costs of writing and submitting an article.

Academic Publishing Business Model

The academic publishing business model is a system in which academics produce research that is then sold to academic institutions for a profit. This system has been in place for centuries and has been incredibly successful for the publishers. However, there are some problems with this model that are becoming more and more apparent.

First of all, the cost of producing research is rising. This is due to the fact that more and more research is being produced, and the competition for publishing space is becoming increasingly fierce. As a result, publishers are charging higher prices for their products.

This puts a strain on libraries, which are already struggling to keep up with the demand for new research materials. Second, the quality of research published in academic journals has been declining in recent years. This is likely because academics are under increasing pressure to publish their work in order to secure tenure or promotion.

As a result, they often cut corners and do not put as much effort into their work as they should. Third, academics have a growing feeling that the current publishing system rewards quantity over quality. In other words, scholars who produce large quantities of low-quality work are often rewarded more than those who produce fewer articles of high quality.

This encourages scholars to focus on quantity rather than quality, further decreasing academic publications’ overall quality. Fourth, many academics argue that the peer-review process – which is supposed to ensure the quality of published work – is broken. They claim that reviewers often do not have enough time to properly assess manuscripts, and as a result, poor-quality papers sometimes make it through the review process and end up being published.

Finally, some argue that commercial interests increasingly influence what gets published in academic journals. They claim that journal editors are under pressure from their publishers to accept articles that will generate revenue rather than those that advance knowledge or contribute to society somehow. As a result, necessary research may not be getting published simply because it does not fit into this commercial mold.

Academic Publishing Market Size

In 2018, the global academic publishing market was worth an estimated US$25.6 billion. This figure is expected to grow to US$29.8 billion by 2022, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.9%. The academic publishing market can be segmented into journals and books by content type.

Journals accounted for the largest share of the market in 2018 at 58.4%, followed by books at 41.6%. Journals are expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.2% from 2018 to 2022, while books are forecast to expand at a CAGR of 2.7% over the same period. The United States is the largest academic publishing market, with revenues of US$10.1 billion in 2018.

This is followed by China (US$2.7 billion), Germany (US$2.1 billion), and the United Kingdom (US$1.9 billion).

Largest Academic Publishers

As the cost of college tuition and student debt continue to rise, the role of academic publishers in providing affordable educational resources is more important than ever. Here we take a look at the five largest academic publishers, based on their market share. 1. Elsevier

Elsevier is the largest academic publisher, with a 27% market share. The company was founded in 1880 and is headquartered in Amsterdam. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 journals and 30,000 book titles each year.

In addition to traditional print publications, Elsevier also offers digital products and services such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, Mendeley, and ClinicalKey. 2. Wiley-Blackwell Wiley-Blackwell is the second largest academic publisher, with a 16% market share.

The company was formed in 2007 through the merger of John Wiley & Sons and Blackwell Publishing. Wiley-Blackwell publishes over 1,500 journals and 6,000 book titles each year. In addition to print and digital publications, Wiley-Blackwell also offers online reference works such as the Encyclopedia of Science Technology & Ethics and the Blackwell Companion to Sociology.

3. Springer Nature Springer Nature is the third largest academic publisher, with a 10% market share. Springer Nature was formed in 2015 through the merger of Springer Science+Business Media and Macmillan Education Group (which included Nature Publishing Group).

Springer Nature publishes over 2,000 journals and 9,000 book titles each year. In addition to traditional publications, Springer Nature also offers digital products such as SpringerLink and AdisInsight . 4 .

SAGE Publications SAGE Publications is the fourth largest academic publisher , with a 7 % market share . SAGE was founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune . The company publishes over 800 journals , 50 , 000 books ,and various digital products each year . SAGE also owns several imprints including Corwin Press , CQ Press , Learning Matters ,and Polity Press . 5 . Taylor & Francis Taylor & Francis is the fifth largest academic publisher , with a 6 % market share . Taylor & Francis was founded in 1852 by William Francis Henry Taylor .


Elsevier is a leading global provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company serves more than 30 million scientists, students and health and information professionals worldwide. Elsevier’s products and services include journals, books, ebooks, databases and online tools.

Elsevier was founded in 1880 as a publisher of scientific journals. Today, the company publishes more than 2,000 journals and over 33,000 book titles. In addition to publishing academic works, Elsevier also provides educational resources for students and professionals.

The company’s online platform ScienceDirect is one of the largest scientific databases in the world. Elsevier is a for-profit company that has been criticized for its high prices. In 2012, Elsevier was accused of “profiteering from the misery of patients” when it was revealed that the company had charged libraries $1 million for access to just 22 articles about cancer treatments .

However, Elsevier has defended its pricing practices by arguing that its products are essential for researchers and students who need access to quality information.


The business of scientific publishing is a complex and often opaque one. Journals make money by charging scientists for the privilege of having their work published, and these charges can vary widely. This system has come under scrutiny in recent years, as some have argued that it puts an undue financial burden on scientists, who are already struggling to secure funding for their research.

There are two main ways that journals make money: subscription fees and article processing charges (APCs). Subscription fees are paid by institutions, such as libraries, which then give their patrons access to the journal’s content. APCs are paid directly by authors (or their funders) when they submit an article for publication.

The cost of publishing an article can vary widely from journal to journal, and even within journals there can be a wide range of prices depending on the type of article being submitted (e.g., original research versus review article). In general, however, it costs more to publish in a high-impact journal than in a lower-tier one. Critics of the current system argue that it gives an unfair advantage to those with deep pockets, who can afford to pay APCs at top journals without blinking an eye.

They also point out that this system disproportionately benefits large publishers, who control the vast majority of high-impact journals. Some have proposed moving away from the current model entirely and making all scientific publications open access (OA), meaning that anyone would be able to read them for free online. Proponents of OA argue that this would level the playing field and allow smaller journals and publishers to compete with the big players.

Others worry that OA could lead to a decline in quality as journals race to publish more articles instead of carefully vetting them for accuracy and significance. It remains to be seen what changes will be made to scientific publishing in the years ahead. Protection Status