Conference presentation
Open access

Unconquerable journals still resisting Open Access: who are they? what do they have in common? and what role can the library play?

Presented atEuropean Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL 2023) Conference, Radical Positive Change Agents, Trondheim (Norway), 12-16 June 2023
Presentation date2023-06

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to shed light on the “unconquerable journals of open access” and to highlight what librarians can do to encourage them to adopt more open and inclusive practices. Under this umbrella term, we include both the journals which do not offer any known open access option for their authors and strictly prohibit self-archiving in institutional repositories, as well as those which simply fail to clarify their position on this. Once they are better known, we can then start to define potential roles for the libraries with regards to those unconquerable journals, and maybe start to accompany them on their journey to the development of open access path or the clarification of their self-archiving policies.

Background: While a lot of discussions and research focus on Read & Publish or transformational agreements, hybrid, gold, and diamond open access journals, little is known about the rest of the landscape. Journals have been converting to open access using various approaches. A few journals opted for a reverse move, flipping from open to closed. Nevertheless, what used to be the norm – subscription only journals, with no open access (green or gold) option – seems now to have become the margin. But with national or funder strategies ambitioning to reach a 100% open access, and open access percentages growing towards that aim, time has come to take a closer look at those journals that are still resisting Open Access or not caring enough to state their policy on the matter. Identifying those journals and publishers can thus be a first step for medical librarians to try a more proactive approach.


Using PubMed as our initial source, we extracted the list of all currently MEDLINE-indexed journals. This list of 5’278 journals is then compared with Sherpa Romeo, which has imposed itself as one of the key resources to help authors when it comes to selecting their publishing venue or clarify their open access options in the venue of their choice. This allows us to identify (a) journals which are still absent of the Sherpa Romeo database, and (b) journals which are referenced there, but have not mentioned any open access pathway, meaning that they apparently do not offer any open access publishing, be it either against a fee, or as a self-archiving provision.

Those will form the basis of our corpus of indomitable journals, which we will put under our magnifying glass and investigate further, delving into their disciplines, DOI practices, publishing house and publisher’s country, length of existence, etc. Our aim is to seek what they have in common and identify their similarities, to better apprehend those journals without which a 100% Open access world will not be possible. What volume of publication do they represent, and what is the general trend of this volume: is it decreasing or remaining stable? How fast is it moving? Did they reverse flip?

Finally, looking at some qualitative examples, we will also try to highlight interesting cases, and from there, formulate some possible roles that the library can play with regards to those unconquerable journals: for instance, contacting local publishers to create discussion around the many open access paths available, suggesting best practices like registering policies in Sherpa Romeo, or offering support or guidance with matters such a as long-term preservation or unique author identifiers.

  • Open access
  • Medical journals
  • Bibliometrics
  • PubMed
  • DOAJ
  • Sherpa Romeo
  • Reverse-flip
  • Journal policies
Citation (ISO format)
MULLER, Floriane Sophie, IRIARTE, Pablo. Unconquerable journals still resisting Open Access: who are they? what do they have in common? and what role can the library play? In: European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL 2023) Conference. Trondheim (Norway). 2023. doi: 10.13097/archive-ouverte/unige:169471
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Technical informations

Creation06/13/2023 8:02:31 AM
First validation06/13/2023 8:46:27 AM
Update time08/22/2023 9:01:43 AM
Status update08/22/2023 9:01:43 AM
Last indexation08/31/2023 11:45:33 AM
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