About the industry

The academic publishing industry plays a vital role in the research ecosystem, showcasing the work of millions of scientists, doctors and other researchers around the world.

It embraces a broad spectrum of publishing entities from large commercial publishers through to university presses and learned societies. In total, there are around 10,000 different publishers who collectively validate and process three million articles every year from eight million authors across the globe.

Academic publishers directly employ around 110,000 people, of which around 40% work in the EU. They call on a bank of 125,000 editors who manage more than three million annual submissions, organise peer review and edit and prepare articles for publication. Once published, all articles are held in a digital archive which currently holds in excess of 40 million individual articles dating back to the early 1800s. It is estimated that these papers have been downloaded more than one billion times.

During the coronavirus outbreaks in 2020, publishers united to make all Covid 19 research freely available to the world. As a result, within a few months more than 150 million articles were downloaded without charge.

As technology advances, publishers have invested heavily in digitisation, spending over £2 billion since 2000 to ensure the work of their authors is easily accessible. A large portion of this investment goes towards enhancing the visual impact of research, improving searchability and fighting plagiarism and fake science.


Learn more about scholarly publishing

The latest edition of the STM Report – STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics and market size – provides an update on the size and shape of scholarly publishing and offers the latest global market values for the industry across scientific and technical, medical, and social sciences and humanities fields.