The STM Report


STM Report cover

The 4th Edition of The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing (2015) is now available from the International STM Association website here.

Published in March 2015, The STM Report provides authoritative coverage of all aspects of journal publishing, including market size and statistics, peer review, Open Access and new technological and market developments.

20 Facts about STM publishing

from The STM Report, 3rd edition (apologies, I will update from the 4th edition shortly) – for details and sources, download the full report!

  1. STM journals play a key role in the communication and recording of scientific findings, and in the assessment of research performance at all levels from the individual researcher to the nation
  2. Journals do not just disseminate information but also provide a means of (formally) recording the author’s precedence, maintain quality through peer review and provide a fixed archival version for future reference
  3. There were about 28,100 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals in 2012
  4. These journals collectively publish about 1.8–1.9 million articles each year
  5. The USA is the country with the largest share of global output, producing some 21% of articles annually, followed by China in second place with 10%
  6. The number of articles published grows each year by 3–3.5%, and the number of journals by about 3.5%
  7. The reason for the growth in numbers of journal articles is the growth in the number of active researchers, which in turn is driven by research & development budgets, and is currently estimated at between 6.5 and 9 million globally
  8. The number of STM journal publishers is estimated to be around 5000–10,000, with a core of 5000 covered by the main industry databases, and a long tail of single-journal small organisations (most of whom would not regard themselves primarily as publishers)
  9. The annual revenues generated from English-language STM journal publishing are estimated at about $9.4 billion in 2011
  10. About 52% of global STM revenues (including non-journal STM products) come from the USA, 32% from Europe/Middle East, 12% from Asia/Pacific and 4% from the rest of the world
  11. The full cost of publishing a journal article (with print and electronic versions) is about £3000
  12. The industry employs an estimated 110,000 people globally, and in addition an estimated 20–30,000 are indirectly supported
  13. The number of times a journal article is cited by researchers in other peer-reviewed articles is one of the most widely-used measures of the impact of scientific research
  14. The Journal Impact Factor is the average number of citations received by articles in a journal for a specified time window. The Impact Factor for a journal is often used as a proxy measure of quality for individual articles, although this is regarded as inappropriate and incorrect (because of the wide range of citations received by individual articles within any particular journal)
  15. Virtually all STM journals are now available online, although many also produce print editions in parallel to satisfy continuing demand from some customers. Technological innovation has added features to the online edition that cannot be replicated in print (e.g. audiovisual content), so that the electronic version is now normally the version of record rather than any print version
  16. Another measure of impact is the number of times an article is downloaded from the online journal; collectively there are about 2.5 billion full text downloads of STM articles each year from publishers’ websites, plus perhaps another 400 million from other sites
  17. Journals are not uniform in size, but vary widely from small journals publishing a handful of articles each year up to huge scientific journals publishing thousands of articles annually (or in one case, over 25,000 articles). Nor are they uniform in purpose: the vast majority publish research articles only; a minority, especially general and professional (medical) titles are hybrids between specialist magazine and research journal
  18. Journal articles can be made open access via the “Gold route” of open access publication, via delayed open access to articles in subscription journals, or via the “Green route” of depositing copies of some version of the article in an open repository
  19. There are about 8100 open access journals, of which about 1800 have reached the quality threshold necessary to be included in the Scopus bibliographic database
  20. The proportion of journal articles available via open access publication was estimated to be 12% in 2011, with a further 5% available via delayed access and about 10–12% via open repositories