The hybrid model for open access publication of scholarly articles: A failed experiment?



Since 2004, mainstream scholarly publishers have been offering authors publishing in their subscription journals the option to free their individual articles from access barriers against a payment (hybrid OA). This has been marketed as a possible gradual transition path between subscription and open access to the scholarly journal literature, and the publishers have pledged to decrease their subscription prices in proportion to the uptake of the hybrid option. The number of hybrid journals has doubled in the past couple of years and is now over 4,300; the number of such articles was around 12,000 in 2011. On average only 1–2% of eligible authors utilize the OA option, due mainly to the generally high price level of typically 3,000 USD. There are, however, a few publishers and individual journals with a much higher uptake. This article takes a closer look at the development of hybrid OA and discusses, from an author-centric viewpoint, the possible reasons for the lack of success of this business model.