There are several ‘types’ of academic publishers, ranging from independent journals who publish one or a handful of journals to corporate publishing companies with massive portfolios including journals, books, supplemental materials, and more. In the middle are independent publishing companies, associations formed by groups of societies, and university publishing houses. When we looked at the top 10 academic publishers by journal portfolio, all 10 were in the Global North – and nine of those 10 were larger, multinational publishing companies. According to the same 2022 study, if you look at the top 10 academic publishers by size in the Global South, the type of publisher shifts.1
Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia
Universidad de Buenos Aires
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Universitas Gadjah Mada
Universitas Negeri Semarang
University of Tehran
Universidad Nacional de La Plata
University of Malaya
Who was the largest academic publishers in the Global South in 2022?
According to this study, the largest academic publisher in the Global South in 2022 was Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia Press (UPI Press) with 177 journals. A university press in Indonesia, UPI Press specializes in journals and books within the field of education.2 They ranked 31st in the overall list of academic publishers. In the tenth position in the Global South was Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta Press (UNY Press), another university press in Indonesia. They ranked 68th on the global list with 93 journals in press.
How do the largest academic publishers in the Global South compare in size to the global top 10?
The largest academic publisher in the world, Springer, dwarfs most competitors with over 3700 journals currently in its portfolio; indeed, even the second largest global publisher (Taylor & Francis) had ‘only’ 2912 journals in 2022, leaving a spread of over 800 journals between those two positions. Considering this is about two-thirds the size of the combined portfolios of the top 10 publishers in the Global South, this is quite impressive.
Brill, in the tenth global position, had a portfolio of 461 journals in 2022 – this is still roughly 2.6-fold higher than UPI Press’ journal portfolio.
How does the largest publisher in the Global South compare to the largest journal in the Global South?
According to Scientific Journal Rankings in 2022, the largest journal in the Global South was the Journal of Materials Research and Technology,3 the official publication of the Brazilian Metallurgical, Materials and Mining Association (published on their behalf by Elsevier).4 The Journal of Materials Research and Technology published 1923 articles in 2022; the largest journal published by a publisher on our top 10 list is the Iranian Journal of Public Health with 354 publications in 2022.3 This journal is published by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (part of the larger University of Tehran), which is in sixth place for the Global South and ranked 55th overall.
Are smaller publishers more reliable?
While larger publishers are more often the targets of bad actors (e.g., peer review rings or paper mills), smaller publishers are not immune to scholarly fraud. Depending on the resources available to them, they may have fewer members of staff and less ability to deal with fraud if it is detected. Publishers have adopted several different strategies to deal with potential misconduct, but this does not mean authors have to pick between ‘brand name’ publishers and more niche publishers. Improving the peer review system and supporting publishers of all sizes who promote transparency and integrity will help reduce the risk of authors looking to publish.