Development of the STM Report: an overview of scientific and scholarly publishing




International Association of STM Publishers

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Categorising journals and other modes of communication into a framework for the analysis of potential impacts of technology on scholarly communications.

STM is the leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers. It has more than 150 members in 21 countries who each year collectively publish more than 66% of all journal articles. STM members include learned societies, university presses, private companies, start-ups and established players.

The STM Report, published in October 2018, which Research Consulting helped produce, is the fifth edition of the report and marked the 50th anniversary of STM, being formed in 1968. The report, which runs to more than 200 pages, provides a comprehensive overview of scientific and scholarly publishing.

STM publishing takes place within the broader system of scholarly communication, which includes both formal and informal elements. Journals form a core part of the process of scholarly communication and are an integral part of scientific research itself.

Main conclusions drawn include high-end numbers. Financially, annual revenues generated from English language STM journal publishing were estimated in 2017 at around $10 billion, within an STM publishing market worth some $27.5 billion. People-related observations show an industry that employs around 110,000 individuals, of which approximately 40% are working in the European Union. China, meanwhile, has overtaken the US to become the pre-eminent producer of global research papers, with a share of 19%.

Researchers’ core motivations for publishing appear largely unchanged: securing funding and furthering careers. Annual full-text downloads of scholarly content are around the 2.5 billion mark – virtually all STM journals are available online and the vast majority of usage is conducted electronically.

Discussion continues around the deficiencies of the Journal Impact Factor, however, the growth of other metrics have yet to better it, in the eyes of the research community, who also see peer-review as fundamental to scholarly communications and, despite some perceived shortcomings, remain committed to its continuation. Perhaps the biggest change has been the development of pre-print servers and the growing use of pre-prints in areas such as biology and chemistry.