Academic Publishing Statistics

The academic publishing industry operates with the highest profit margins in the publishing world and beyond. Some of the most profitable academic publishers have bigger profit margins than the most successful tech companies.

However, open-access publishing is a growing trend in this industry, which significantly diminishes revenues. This report will present some growing trends and overall statistics of the academic publishing industry to provide a better understanding of this vital branch of publishing.

How many academic articles are published every year?

  • It is estimated that over 5.14 million academic papers, including reviews, surveys, and conference proceedings, are published each year.
  • The number of published academic articles has been increasing every year on a year-over-year basis, growing 22.78% over the last 5 years.
  • China has taken over the role of the largest publisher of academic papers in the world since 2022 and is the first country with over 1 million papers published over 12 months.
  • Over 36% of all academic articles published worldwide come from the United States and China.
  • 10 countries are responsible for over 87% of all academic papers published in the world.
YearArticles published (in millions)Growth
5-year growth22.78%

Academic journals published per year

  • Around 46,736 academic journals are published worldwide every year, with over 75.04% of them published in the English language.
  • The number of academic journals published per year has grown 28.7% over the last 10 years.
  • English-language journals have been growing at a pace of 3.22% per year, on average, over the last 10 years.
  • On the other hand, non-English journals have been growing at a slower rate, around 2.33% per year over the last 10 years.
  • The United Kingdom is the world’s biggest producer of academic journals with over 5,856 per year.
YearNumber of academic journalsGrowth

Open access publishing

  • Over 56% of all academic papers published over the year have some form of open access as of 2020.
  • Open-access articles increased by 58% over the last 10 years and 78% since 2001.
  • 35.98% of articles have full open access as of 2020, a jump from 10.44% in 2011.
  • Harvard University published over 62,693 articles with open access between 2017 and 2020, the most among all universities worldwide.
  • When it comes to the share of published papers with open access, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine published over 93.99% of its academic papers through open access, the most among any university worldwide, with over 1,000 articles published over the year.
  • With over 1.43 million academic papers published through open access between 2017 and 2020, the United States is the leading country in the world regarding the production of open access articles.
YearSome form of open accessClosed access

Academic publishers

  • 5 academic publishing companies (Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, Taylor & Francis, Springer Nature, and SAGE) account for over 50% of the academic publishing revenue.
  • The academic publishing industry has one of the biggest profit margins, sometimes amounting to 40%.
  • Elsevier is the biggest academic publishing company in the world, generating over $3.35 in revenue. SAGE, Springer Nature, and John Wiley & Sons all generate over $1.5 billion annually.
  • Big5 in academic publishing accounts for at least 25% of all journals published worldwide.
  • Publishers like MDPI and Copernicus are fully engaged in open-access and all of their journals are widely available for free.
  • 10 publishers account for almost 50% of all published articles during the year.
PublisherPublished journals
Taylor & Francis2,508
Walter de Gruyter GmbH747
Egypts Presidential Specialized Council for Education and Scientific Research743
Oxford University Press485

Diversity in academic publishing

  • Between 2017 and 2020, around 31.99% of academic papers, reviews, surveys, and other documents published globally were published by women.
  • In the United States, around 35.17% of all academic papers released between 2017 and 2020 were credited to female authors, an increase from 33.24% between 2014 and 2017.
  • USA, China, UK, Italy, and Germany account for more than 50% of all academic papers released by female authors.
  • Serbian female academic authors account for 52.43% of all academic papers published in that country between 2017 and 2020, the biggest share of female authors among all countries worldwide (publishing more than 10,000 academic papers per year).
  • The United States is ranked 18th globally when it comes to the share of academic papers published by women with 35.17%, the UK is 26th with 32.79%, while China ranks 37th with 25.44%.
  • Women account for 36.79% of academic authors at Harvard between 2017 and 2020.
  • Over 59.5% of all college students in the United States are women as of 2021.
  • As we move up on the ladder, the share of female academics declines – women account for 54% of non-tenure-track professors and 43% of tenured professors, and 33% of full professors.
  • Going further, only 30% of college presidents in the United States are women, and this number drops to 22% when it comes to elite colleges.
  • The gender pay gap is also present in academic institutions, varying from 20% in administration to around 10% in higher management.
PeriodTotal published documents (in millions)Articles by female authorsShare of articles by female authorsChange