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      The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era

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      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Patterns of evaluation in science: Institutionalisation, structure and functions of the referee system

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            Benchmarking scientific output in the social sciences and humanities: The limits of existing databases

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              The place of serials in referencing practices: Comparing natural sciences and engineering with social sciences and humanities

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                10 June 2015
                2015
                : 10
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ]École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’information, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3J7, Canada
                [2 ]Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies (OST), Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur la Science et la Technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC. H3C 3P8, Canada
                Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, BELGIUM
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: VL. Performed the experiments: VL SH PM. Analyzed the data: VL SH PM. Wrote the paper: VL SH PM.

                Article
                PONE-D-15-01515
                10.1371/journal.pone.0127502
                4465327
                26061978

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 0, Pages: 15
                Product
                Funding
                The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors also acknowledge financial support from the Canada Research Chairs program.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                Aggregated data will be available on Figshare upon acceptance of the manuscript. However, restrictions apply to the availability of the bibliometric data, which is used under license from Thomson Reuters. Readers can contact Thomson Reuters at the following URL: http://thomsonreuters.com/en/products-services/scholarly-scientific-research/scholarly-search-and-discovery/web-of-science.html.

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