Open Access (OA) facilitates access to research articles. However, authors or funders often must pay the publishing costs, preventing authors who do not receive financial support from participating in OA publishing and gaining citation advantage for OA articles. OA may exacerbate existing inequalities in the publication system rather than overcome them. To investigate this, we studied 522,411 articles published by Springer Nature. Employing correlation and regression analyses, we describe the relationship between authors affiliated with countries from different income levels, their choice of publishing model, and the citation impact of their papers. A machine learning classification method helped us to explore the importance of different features in predicting the publishing model. The results show that authors eligible for article processing charge (APC) waivers publish more in gold OA journals than others. In contrast, authors eligible for an APC discount have the lowest ratio of OA publications, leading to the assumption that this discount insufficiently motivates authors to publish in gold OA journals. We found a strong correlation between the journal rank and the publishing model in gold OA journals, whereas the OA option is mostly avoided in hybrid journals. Also, results show that the countries’ income level, seniority, and experience with OA publications are the most predictive factors for OA publishing in hybrid journals.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

Handling Editor: Ludo Waltman

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit