European Scholarly Journals From Small and Mid-Size Publishers in Times of Open Access: Mapping Journals and Public Funding Mechanisms

Mikael Laakso,1 Anna-Maija Multas2


This study investigated the relationship between government funding and scholarly journal publishing, specifically concerning small and mid-sized journal publishers in European countries. This study was conducted against the changing backdrop of the global scholarly journal landscape in which an increasing share of journals are free for both authors and readers, which raises the need for journals to seek resources other than subscription-based income.1,2


To achieve this objective, the study included 2 components: (1) establish the volume and key bibliometric characteristics of small and mid-sized journal publishers (an organization or actor publishing ≤150 peer-reviewed journals) present in European countries and (2) collect information about country-level public funding mechanisms for scholarly journals active in the 51 sovereign states in Europe, including transcontinental states partly in Europe,3 as well as Kazakhstan and Kosovo. The Ulrichsweb publications database was used for the bibliometric component of the study. For funding information, manual data collection was required to gather as much information as possible, which included explorative web searches and consultations with scholarly publishing experts in the countries of interest.


The study identified 16,387 journals from small and mid-sized publishers being published in European countries, of which 36% were already publishing open access, ie, free for anyone to read on the web. Table 40 presents a geographic breakdown of the journal counts and open access status per publisher size category. The majority of journals published in Europe were published by single-journal publishers (77% of all publishers), ie, by actors or organizations that only output 1 journal. Journals from small and mid-sized publishers were found to be multilingual or non-English to a higher degree than larger publishers that publish in excess of 150 journals each (44% and 43% vs 6% and 5%, respectively). Substantial diversity was observed in how (and whether) countries reserve and distribute funds to journals active in those countries, ranging from continuous inclusive subsidies to competitive grant funding to nothing at all. Information about funding instruments was overall hard to locate and often only available in national languages.


Overall, the study suggests that the European journal publishing and funding space for small and mid-sized publishers is very diverse when it comes to whether and how economic and technical support from government resources is offered. Many countries have recently set up journal portals for hosting open access journals published in these countries, and funding instruments often require funded journals to enable open access for their content. Funding information was often difficult to discover, and efforts to make such information more easily available would likely facilitate policy development in this area.


1. Bosman J, Frantsvåg JE, Kramer B, Langlais P-C, Proudman V. OA diamond journals study, part 1: findings. Zenodo. Published online March 9, 2021. doi10.5281/zenodo.4558704

2. Crawford W. Gold Open Access 2016-2021: Articles in Journals (GOA7). Cites & Insights Books; 2022.

3. EUR-Lex. Browse by EuroVoc. 2021. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/browse/eurovoc.html?params=72#arrow_7206

1Hanken School of Economics, Information Systems Science, Helsinki, Finland, mikael.laakso@hanken.fi; 2Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Mikael Laakso is the chair of the Finnish Association for Scholarly Publishing.


This research was funded by the Finnish Association for Scholarly Publishing.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor

The funder had no influence on the execution of the study.


The authors wish to express their gratitude to the journal editors who took the time to respond to our survey, and to the OpenAIRE contact persons for giving helpful information on the public funding circumstances in many of the included countries.