, Volume 121, Issue 1, pp 53–63 | Cite as

Changes in revenue structure of a leading open access journal publisher: the case of BMC

  • Sumiko AsaiEmail author


While traditional subscription journal publishers such as Elsevier have been developing a presence in the open access journal market since the 2000s, a few pioneering open access journal publishers have recently decreased the number of articles in their journals. Open access journal publishers’ revenues depend on both the number of articles published and the article processing charges imposed on authors. Therefore, this study investigates the time trends in the number of articles and article processing charges to examine the effect of competition on BMC, formerly BioMed Central, a leading publisher of open access journals. The findings show that the total annual number of articles in BMC journals increased consistently until 2015 but decreased in 2016, irrespective of the introduction of new journals. This study also examines the determinants of article processing charges using a sample selection model. The results show that BMC sets higher article processing charges for more frequently cited journals while setting lower charges for recently launched journals after controlling for other factors. Judging from the trends in the two components of revenues, there is no room to be overly optimistic about the open access journal market, irrespective of the present overall market growth.


Open access journal Number of articles Article processing charge BMC 

JEL Classification




This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant Number 15K03470.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Political Science and EconomicsMeiji UniversityTokyoJapan

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