Current status of OA APC journals sampled 2010 – 2014

Analysis of the current status of journals sampled in 2010 (by Solomon & Björk) and/or by the SKC team in 2013 or 2014. In brief: the attrition rate for journals previously sampled is quite low, with 2% of the 1,559 titles previously sampled either apparently or actually no longer publishing. Most of the journals no longer active (34 of the 37), not surprisingly, are from the 2010 sampling. The vast majority of journals found to have APCs or APPCs (article page processing charges), over 90%, clearly had APCs in 2015. A noticeable number of journals previously identified as having publication charges either do not have publication charges, or cannot be confirmed as having publication charges today. The following chart and table provide additional detail. For more detail and documentation on how this data is calculated, see the open access article processing charges dataverse – under the Open access article processing charges longitudinal study 2015 preliminary dataset the data file is called DataSet – Main v.12 current status of previously sampled journals.csv and the accompanying documentation PDF file is called OA APC study 2015 current status journals samples 2010 – 2014 documentation .pdf

current status of journals sampled 2010 - 2014


Current status of preliminary sample journals (sampled in 2010, 2013, or 2014)
Category Total (numeric) Total (percentage) * 2010 numeric 2010 percentage
Confirmed publication charges 1,425 91% 828 95%
Confirmed no publication fees 51 3% 1 0%
Title no longer published 37 2% 34 4%
No cost found 35 2% 7 1%
Other 11 1% 4 0%
Total 1,559 100% 874 100%
* Note total adds up to 99%, not 100% due to rounding error


Open access article processing charges longitudinal study: 2015 preliminary dataset

We’ve been busy gathering data from publisher websites and other sources since mid-May this year. Our recent check of the top publishers in DOAJ by number of journals illustrates that there is so much change in this area that it’s going to take a while longer to complete this data. In future we’re not even going to attempt a short-term annual census period, rather pursue the gathering of data on an ongoing basis which will permit richer publisher case studies along the way. In the meantime, if anyone can make use of the 2,286 journals that we gathered APC data for or the 103 journals that we gathered article page processing charges for, this plus all the other data we have gathered from various sources, as well as detailed documentation is now available in the OA APC dataverse:

We hope this is useful. Informal peer review (please check the documentation for the many limitations to this dataset already noted) in the form of comments to this post are most welcome. We will continue with data gathering and analysis so watch for further posts.

Top 10 publishers in DOAJ (by number of titles) 2014 to 2015

by Heather Morrison & Guinsly Mondésir

There have been a few changes in the collection of fully open access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals in the past year, as demonstrated by the following chart. While Hindawi and BioMedCentral remain the largest publishers (by number of journals, not number of articles), traditional publisher De Gruyter has gone from no titles in DOAJ in 2014 to 3rd largest DOAJ publisher and Elsevier is now the 7th largest DOAJ publisher by number of journals. Figures are based on an analysis of publisher by size drawn by DOAJ metadata downloaded in May 2014 and May 2015. Full data is available in the OA APC dataverse

Note that publisher size by title offerings is different from publisher size by number of articles published, which is outside the scope of our study. The percentage of journals in DOAJ published by the top 10 publishers has increased slightly, from 14% to 16%. This is likely not a significant difference, but perhaps an indication of a trend to watch. Note that we have made no attempt to correct for variations in publisher name listings; we recommend instead that publishers update their information in DOAJ and ensure correct entry for future research and researchers.

Publisher Frequency_2014 Publisher Frequency_2015
Hindawi Publishing Corporation 438 Hindawi Publishing Corporation 539
BioMed Central 238 BioMed Central 271
Scientific Research Publishing 119 De Gruyter Open 212
Bentham open 99 MDPI AG 121
MDPI AG 95 Springer 108
Springer 95 Dove Medical Press 105
Dove Medical Press 91 Bentham open 81
Medknow Publications 80 Medknow Publications 78
Libertas Academica 49 Elsevier 72
PAGEPress Publications 47 Libertas Academica 56
Total top 10 publishers 1,351 1,643
DOAJ total 9,709 10,532
% published by top 10 14% 16%

Library support in the transition to open access: membership cancellations

The purpose of this post is to shed some light on a specific issue in the transition to open access that particularly affects small and low-cost publishers and to suggest one strategy to address this issue.

In the words of one Resource Requirements interviewee:

So the other set of members that we used to have about forty library members , but when we went to open access online, we lost the whole bunch of libraries. Yeah, so basically we sent everybody ,you know, a letter saying we are going to open access online, the annual membership is only $30, we hope you will continue to support us even though there are no longer print journals, and then a whole flu of cancellations came in from a whole bunch of libraries, which we had kind of thought might happen but given how cheap we are, I have to say I was really disappointed when it indeed did happen especially from whole bunch of [deleted] libraries [for which our journal is extremely relevant]. I was going, seriously $30?

Comments: for a university library, a society membership fee, when not required for journal subscriptions, may be difficult to justify from an accounting perspective. $30 is a small cost; however, for a university the administrative work of tracking such memberships and cutting a check every year likely exceeds the $30 cost. With 40 library members at a cost of $30, the total revenue for this journal from this source was $1,200. A university or university library could sponsor this amount at less than the cost of many an article processing charge. The university and library where the faculty member is located have a support program for open access journals; clearly the will, and some funding, is there.

One of the challenges is transitioning subscription dollars to support for open access, as I address in my 2013 First Monday article. Following is one suggestion for libraries, or for faculty to suggest to their libraries: why not engage your faculty who are independent or society publishers to gain support for cancellations or tough negotiations and lower prices for the big deals of large, highly profitable commercial publishers that I argue are critical to redirect funding to our own publishing activities?

Here is one scenario that may help to explain the potential. If a library current spends $1 million a year on Elsevier’s big deal (not uncommon for a large university libraries; some pay more) at the current rate of profit of 37%, your library’s contribution to Elsevier profit is $370,000 per year. If your library could convince Elsevier to “make do” with a mere 36% contribution to profit from your library, that’s still a $360,000 contribution to Elsevier profit. The $10,000 difference would be enough to fund a $1,200 a year subsidy for 8 journals like this one to make up for loss of library membership / subscription revenue.

Here is how to calculate the potential for savings for your library and support:

  • The Elsevier 37% profit rate can be found in the 2014 Reed Elsevier Annual Report.The actual numbers (in millions) are 2,048 GBP revenue, 762 GBP adjusted operating profit.
  • Adjust as necessary using a currency conversion tool such as the Bank of Canada currency conversion service (daily and 10-year available). The actual numbers are substantial and hence important to this type of argument. 762 million GBP in profit is $1.17 million USD in profit as of today.
  • Take your library’s annual payment to Reed Elsevier.
  • Multiply by .37 to calculate your library’s contribution to Elsevier profit.
  • Use one or more other multipliers to calculate the savings possible through lower Elsevier profits, e.g.:
  • .36 to illustrate a drop in your library’s contribution to Elsevier profit of 1%
  • .20 to illustrate a drop in your library’s contribution to Elsevier profit to a “mere” 20% profit level
  • and so forth.

Similar calculations can be made with other publishers. I use Elsevier as an example partially because they are the largest scholarly publisher and partially because, as a publicly traded corporate, Reed Elsevier is required to publish this information. Fully private businesses (e.g. Springer, Sage) are under no such legal obligation.


Morrison, H. (2013). Economics of scholarly communication in transition. First Monday 18:6

Reed Elsevier (2014). Annual Report, page. Retrieved Jan. 7, 2015 from

This post is part of the Resource Requirements for Small Scholar-Led Open Access Publishing


Results for SCIEDU Press:

  • 2015 APCs for journals sampled in 2014 show no change
  • average APC in 2015 ($272 USD) is the same as 2014 ($275 USD)
  • average APC from Solomon & Björk 2010: $200 USD (all sampled this price)
  • increase in average APC 2010 – 2015: 38% or $75 USD (note it is important to consider amount and not just percentage in understanding increases)
  • 12 Sciedu journals are listed in DOAJ. Of these, 11 are listed on the publisher website
  • 18 OA journals listed on the Sciedu website with APCs are not listed in DOAJ (title list follows)
  • Sciedu is one of the few publishers that does not mention any variations in APCs (e.g. discounts, extra charges, differential fees based on article type)
  • Data will be released with the main spreadsheet (in progress)
  • Thanks to Lisa Desautels for assistance with data gathering
  • Please note that our investigation is limited to article processing charges
  • This post is part of the OA article processing charges project

Sciedu APC journals not listed in DOAJ

Artificial Intelligence Research
Business and Management Research
Case Reports in Clinical Pathology
Case Reports in Internal Medicine
Case Studies in Surgery
English Linguistics Research
International Journal of Diagnostic Imaging
International Journal of English Language Teaching
International Journal of Healthcare
Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Informatics
Journal of Biomedical Graphics and Computing
Journal of Business Administration Research
Journal of Curriculum and Teaching
Journal of Epidemiological Research
Management and Organizational Studies
Studies in Asian Social Science
World Journal of English Language
World Journal of Social Science

Small scholar-led open access publishing

This post provides some background and a status update on one the Resource Requirements for small scholar-led not-for-profit open access publishing project, flowing from the second objective of  Sustaining the Knowledge Commons:

2. an examination of the resources needed by small not-for-profit scholar-led publishers (e.g. needs for editorial or technical support)

Background and rationale

Up until the end of the Second World War, virtually all scholarly journals were published by scholarly societies. In the latter half of the previous century there was a tendency for increasing commercial involvement in scholarly publishing, and within the commercial sector a tendency towards concentration. Today, a very large proportion of scholarly journals are published by a small number of highly profitable large commercial publishers, particularly in the sciences, technology and medicine (STM) areas, while other areas of scholarly publishing, particularly social sciences and humanities publishing and monograph publishing, suffer from a lack of financial support.

In recent decades, one factor in the trend towards commercial publishing and outsourcing of the technical work of publishing by scholarly societies was the difficulty and expense of creating online journals in the relatively early days of the computer and the internet, up until the end of the last century.

The not-for-profit scholar-led sector of scholarly publishing is still very large and active in scholarly publishing; even many of the journals published by commercial publishers are actually partnerships with scholarly societies, or in effect scholarly society publishers that have outsourced some of the work to commercial companies.

It should come as no surprise that at about the turn of this century – about the time of the official start of the open access movement – the underlying conditions pushing scholars to outsource the work of publishing change, thanks to the internet. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were free online journals, but not that many; it wasn’t easy to publish online, for many people this required equipment, software and expertise that they didn’t have. Today, this is no longer the case. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can publish a blog, using free software.

This has led to what Edgar & Willinsky, reporting on a survey of over 900 journals using the open source Open Journal Systems, describe as a renaissance of scholar-led publishing. As I discuss in my 2013 First Monday article, the figures reported by the journals in this survey suggest the potential for a fully open access scholarly publishing system that costs a small fraction of what academic libraries (the major source of support for scholarly journals) currently spend, on average, for scholarly journals on a per-article basis.

The First Monday article reflects early stage research that the SKC project is intended to pursue to the next level by more fully articulating the needs and potential costs of a scholar-led open access publishing system. The next phase of research involves two separate paths: articulating the needs of scholarly journals (through interviews, possibly focus groups and/or surveys, followed by economic modeling) and university (usually) library-based journal hosting services.

Resource Requirements is the first phase of this research and involves conducting brief interviews with people involved with scholar-led journals that either are open access, or would like to become open access if the means can be found. These interviews focus on the needs of these journals expressed in qualitative terms, such as what work is done, who does the work (e.g. volunteers or paid staff, academic, professional publishing staff, support staff etc.), the technical work of journal hosting and support.