The research literature on open access (OA) publishing has mainly dealt with journals publishing in English, and studies focusing on OA journals in other languages are less common. This article addresses this gap via a case study focusing on Chinese-language OA journals. It starts with the identification of the major characteristics of this market, followed by eight semi-structured interviews to explore the key motivations behind Chinese-language OA publishing and perceived barriers. The majority of Chinese OA journals are published in Chinese, and most of them are published by universities and scholarly societies. Nearly 80% of journals were launched before the digital age and were converted to OA later. The subject distribution is highly skewed towards the science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) fields. Publishers are motivated to convert journals to OA by an expected increase in academic impact, which would also attract more submissions. The lack of a sufficient number of high-quality submissions is perceived as the largest barrier to the successful publishing of journals. The financial instability of journals is identified as the main obstacle hindering internationalisation. The central conclusions of the study are that Chinese-language OA journals need to increase their visibility in journal indexes such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and that an OA publishing platform (similar to the Latin American SciELO) should be established for Chinese-language OA journals.
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