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Key findings from the STM Global Brief 2021- Economics & Market Size

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

This post looks at the report released in October 2021 by the Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM): STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics & Market Size. Over the last 15 years, the STM Report has provided global data and analysis on STM research and publishing. Useful for any professional involved in the publishing industry, these reports highlight scholarly publishing trends, issues, and challenges. This latest report looks at the scale of scholarly publishing and analyzes changes and developments across scientific, technical, medical, and social sciences and humanities fields.

How is the scholarly publishing industry growing and changing in today's climate? What are the key trends, developments and challenges for publishers and marketers across the world?

We give you a handy summary and pull together the new report's key findings so that you can explore the key points all in one place.

Findings from STM Global Brief 2021- Economics & Market Size report

Two people look at a print out of a report showing graphs

The latest report, STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics and Market Size, from STM focuses on data from 2018 onwards. We have summarized the main findings and mainly focused on critical successes and challenges.

Market size and financials

  • In 2020 the global STM market contracted to $26.5 billion. Outsell, Inc. forecast that the worldwide market will regain its pre-pandemic (2019) value of $28 billion by 2023.

  • Over the last 20 years, university budgets in the USA have almost doubled, while library budgets have practically halved.

  • Brexit is likely to have exacerbated a reduction in UK university income from overseas students.

Publication trends

  • Current data shows that the growth rate in articles has continued to increase

  • Open access publishing is growing fast, with revenues projected to increase at 11.5% and output at 12.5% (compound annual growth rates) from 2019-2022.

  • Digital formats dominate the global market, accounting for 89% of the scientific and technical segment in 2020, representing a 10% increase from 2019.

  • The number of new scholarly journals is growing at around 2-3% each year.

Geographical trends

  • According to Simba Information, North America held 40% of global social science and humanities revenues in 2020.

  • China remains the world's most prolific producer of publishable research output.


  • 2020 will likely be a record year for the number of submissions due to the increase in research and articles relating to COVID-19.

  • Simba Information predicts that journals will overtake books as the most prominent social sciences and humanities publishing activity by 2025.

  • Outsell, Inc. estimates that the Medical Information and Solutions segment will overtake the Scientific and Technical Information and Solutions segment in terms of market value in 2024.

Recent white papers that we have been involved with demonstrate growth in publishing for 2020 include:

Who are STM, and why is their research significant?

STM is the standard bearer for the academic publishing industry, working with its members to advance trusted research worldwide. We are committed to ensuring that the great discoveries of our time are communicated with pinpoint accuracy, clarity and integrity. We champion innovation across academic research, stimulating the development of new technologies and guidance on universal standards.
The initial STM in white, on a purple background, with the company strapline: the global voice of scholarly publishing

Founded in 1994, STM has over 25 years of experience as an international trade association organized and run for the benefit of scholarly, scientific, technical, medical and professional publishers.

With over 140 member organizations worldwide, STM members collectively publish around 66% of all journal articles. This means that STM represents a significant portion of the world's scholarly publishing organizations and has the industry's interests at its core.

Did you find this report summary useful? If you have any questions or comments, do please let us know in the comments section and share online.


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