OA APCs in 2016: average $840 USD, price skew at low end of range

Here is another early result from the 2016 OA APC project. Of the 3,282 journals for which we have APC data, the average is $840 USD, and the media $600, illustrating a skew towards the low end of the price range. That is to say, half of the APCs are below $600. Excluding journals with an APC of $0 (journals that clearly  use the APC model but are currently free to publish in), the average is $877 USD. This year’s average of $840 is $124 or 13% less than the average of $964 USD the team found in 2014. This finding should be interpreted with caution as pricing for specific journals may have increased substantially, with the global total offset by large numbers of journals that are small, new, or from the developing world with relatively lower APCs. The 3,282 journals are all journals for which we were able to confirm pricing and specify a particular APC. Journals using article page processing charges (APPC) are considered as a separate model and not included in this analysis. The full dataset and documentation are in progress.

The following chart and table illustrate the pricing by bands of $500.

OA APCs by price range in 500s.jpg

APC in USD by range by 500’s # of journals
0 – 500 1,486
501 – 1,000 739
1,001 – 1,500 278
1,501 – 2,000 599
2,001 – 2,500 101
2,501 – 3,000 33
3,001 – 3,500 10
3,501 – 4,000 26
4,001 – 4,500 5
4,501 – 5,000 2
5,001 – 5,250 2
Total (missing one) 3,281

OA journals study 2016: 65% free-to-publish

First result from the 2016 OA APC study: of the 12,060 journals for which we have data for 2016, 7,786 are free to publish in (noted free in Crawford (2016)*, plus no publication fee (SKC team)). 3,510 or 29% have a publication fee (APC or article page processing charge, cost specified or not specified). 404 or 3% were “cost not found”, i.e. we could not determine whether or not there is a cost associated with publishing. 343 or 3% were title not found (titles might be discontinued  or there could be technical issues with websites or connectivity). The 12,060 journals include journals whose publishers either are, or have been, listed in DOAJ, including titles from many publishers that are not currently listed in DOAJ. Dataset and detailed documentation are in progress.


* Thanks to Walt Crawford for providing open data for his Gold Open Access Jounals 2011-2016 dataset. Without this work it would not have been possible to expand the OA APC study from a sample of about a quarter of the journals listed in DOAJ to all of DOAJ and beyond. In particular, 7,040 of the journals confirmed as free to publish in are from Crawford’s work.

Crawford, W. (2016). Gold Open Access Journals 2011 – 2016. http://walt.lishost.org/2016/05/gold-open-access-journals-2011-2015-its-here/

Various APC models: the case of conference proceedings

By Victoria Volkanova and Heather Morrison

In a small, serendipitous, non-random sample of 170 Eastern European journals that were part of gathering data for the OA APCs project, we came across an interesting income model where the APCs are included in the annual conference registration. The journals seem to be closely associated with the scientific conferences organized by either universities or academic societies. Six (6) out of 170 journals (3.5%) use this model:

  1. Academy of Sciences and Arts of Republic of Srpska publishes a journal that is part of the International Scientific Conference “Contemporary Materials”. It charges no APC for articles, but 100 KM (Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark) per paper is included in the conference registration
  2. Wychowanie w Rodzinie/Family Upbringing *: APC is 100 EUR; for participants of the International Scientific Conference “Education in the Family” publication fee is part of the conference fee *Please note that on February 21st the journal’s website is no longer responding. We will verify the link in the next days and update the blog accordingly.
  3. Aerul şi Apa: Componente ale Mediului/Air and Water Components of the Environment: 100 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for the conference proceedings
  4. Challenges of the Knowledge Society: 100 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for the conference proceedings (CKS Journal)
  5. Proceedings of the International Conference Nanomaterials : Applications and Properties: 200 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for conference proceedings
  6. Risk in Contemporary Economy: 300 RON Conference Fee (Romanian New Leu), includes APC for conference proceedings

The countries of origin of the journals are:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (1)
  • Poland (1)
  • Romania (3)
  • Ukraine (1)

Their websites state that the fees for the publication in the conference proceedings or the journals are included in the conference registration. This is a model that looks like an APC but in fact isn’t. Other journals or conference organizers might consider this model as an alternative source of funding for scientific journals.

Elsevier as an open access publisher

Just published:

Morrison, H. (2017). From the field: Elsevier as an open access publisher. The Charleston Advisor 18:3, pp. 53-59 doi https://doi.org/10.5260/chara.18.3.53


Highlights of this broad-brush case study of Elsevier’s Open Access (OA) journals as of 2016: Elsevier offers 511 fully OA journals and 2,149 hybrids. Most fully OA journals do not charge article processing charges (APCs). APCs of fully OA journals average $660 US ($1,731 excluding no-fee journals); hybrid OA averages $2,500. A practice termed author nominal copyright is observed, where copyright is in the name of the author although the author contract is essentially a copyright transfer. The prospects for a full Elsevier flip to OA via APC payments for articles going forward are considered and found to be problematic.

Save the date! April 1, 2017 all-day open access workshop at University of Ottawa

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons is co-sponsoring an all-day open access workshop at the University of Ottawa. The workshop, part of a new master’s-level special topics course on open access, ISI 6300, will be designed to facilitate conversation on emerging topics in open access and related areas, and will feature local and visiting scholars engaged in various open access initiatives and research in addition to student presentations. Presentations will be in French or English and discussion welcome in either language. Registration will be free but required.

Confirmed speakers to date:

Inma Aleixos Borrás. Visiting Scholar. Tentative topic. “European Commission policies on (research) Open Data”. Website: www.inmaaleixos.com

Victoria Volkanova. Visiting Librarian « Les pratiques de publication des chercheurs en milieu francophone minoritaire à l’ère numérique » (see the SKC About the Team page for bio info).

Susan Spronk. University of Ottawa – Faculty of Social Sciences & Editor, Studies in Political Economy.

Kyle Conway & Bill Crahere: The Digital Press @ University of North Dakota

Mary Francoli hhttps://carleton.ca/sjc/profile/francoli-mary/ Open government


École des Sciences de l’Information | School of Information Studies http://arts.uottawa.ca/sis/

The Association des étudiants en sciences de l’information / Information Studies Student Association (AÉSISSA) http://arts.uottawa.ca/sis/student-experience/student-association

University of Ottawa Digital Humanities | Université d’Ottawa Sciences Humaines Numériques http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/info/regist/calendars/programs/1731.html

Sustaining the Knowledge Commons | Soutenir les Savoirs Communs (SKC): sustainingknowledgecommons.org

Watch for further details as planning unfolds early in 2017.

The workshop is part of a special topics class on open access, ISI 6300. An early draft of the course outline is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5n66wofwO7ackhZaE9aaXo3d3M/view

Oxford Open: Increased the Number of Open Access Journal

Oxford Open wants to distribute journals of high-quality research but to be able to publish the journal in the open access model. They do charge article processing fees for most of their journals. Oxford Open also has journals that the author can choose the open access option (hybrid journals), but for the purpose of our research, we only use the journal that is available fully in open access.

By collecting the information about the open-access journals I noticed that only 14 of their journals don’t have any processing charge and some of them don’t have them, but only for 2016.


Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.40.15 AM.png

On their website I was able to collect 35 journal titles, the DOAJ only has 16. They seem to aim for more journals that will be available without fees for the user.


Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.42.27 AM.png

In 2015 they had 11 journals and we sampled 5 of them. Only two have increased their price and the other three journals the price remained the same. The Journal DNA Research has increased the most of their processing fees in 2016. It has risen by 50%. However, the Nucleic Acids Research  has a rise they processing fees from 1400 GBP in 2015 to 1420 GBP in 2016.


Libertas Academica: follow-up

by Widlyne Brutus and Victoria Volkanova


We recently reviewed the APCs of the publisher Libertas Academica for the year 2016 and found a mostly steady pricing compared with the year 2015. The fees are now listed in USD and GBP only, the latter replacing both Euro and Japanese Yen which were used in the previous years for authors from outside of North America. We also have noted the tendency to standardized pricing for the majority of the OA journals: US$1,848 / 1,399 GBP for the journals that are included in PubMed Central (PMC), and US$1,699 /1,299 GBP for the journals that are not included in PMC.


According to its website, Libertas Academica (LA) publishes 83 international, peer-reviewed scientific, technical and medical journals.  Most of the LA journals are open access with the exception of the Clinical Medicine Reviews series that operates under the traditional subscription or pay-per-view model (http://www.la-press.com/about_us.php).

Last year we reviewed the APCs (or APFs, as they call it) of this publisher and found out the overall increases in all currencies (USD, Euros and Japanese Yen) that were much greater than the normal inflation rate warranted. In the comments to the original post, Tom Hill from Libertas Academica provided some explanation for the price increases, more specifically the addition of many journals to PubMed Central (i.e. XML creation, image quality requirements and additional quality control) and the depreciation of the Euro and the Yen, which were the two currencies used for authors from outside of North America. He also pointed out the ongoing possibility of fee waivers and discounts for authors.

Recently we revisited Libertas Academica’s website and compared their 2016 APCs with the previous years. First of all, we’ve noted one significant change in the currencies used: as of 2016, the authors from North America pay APCs in USD, whereas the authors from the rest of the world pay in GBP. We couldn’t find any explanation as to the reasons for which the publisher dropped both the Euro and the Japanese Yen in favour of the British Pound. Some of the possible reasons are the location of the company’s key external service providers in the United Kingdom (as well as in India and in New York, USA); generous UK APCs funding (RCUK, Wellcome Trust), or else the relative stability of this particular currency.

On a side note, the institutional membership fees are charged in USD only and go from US$3,300 to US$13,500, entitling the member institutions for an APC discount varying from 5% to 25%. So far, only one institution has subscribed to this option.

Another observation is the unified APCs for the journals that are being included in PubMed Central: US$1,848 and 1,399 GBP respectively. The fee in USD has remained stable for most journals. However, depending on the exchange rate between GBP and Euro (fluctuations ranging from 1.1054 to 1.4286 – GBP to Euro – in the past year, according to the Bank of England), the new price represents either a slight decrease (0.91% at the low point) or an increase of 1.17% at the high point.

For most journals that are not being included in PubMed Central, the APCs have been standardized at US$1,699 /1,299 GBP, which once again ranges from staying the same as in the year 2015 (for the APCs in USD and in some cases for the rest of the world) to an average increase of 1.47% (min being 1.28 % and max being 1.66%) for the other currencies.

However, there are a few exceptions to the standardized APCs (PMC- included or not): the journals Gene Expression to Genetical Genomics, Genomics Insights, and International Journal of Insect Science saw an increase of 1.59% in their 2016 APCs payable in GBP (1,399). Out of the three journals, Gene Expression to Genetical Genomics is not currently included in PMC.

As to the APCs stated previously in the Japanese Yen, the recent switch to the GBP had practically no impact: the charges fluctuated slightly between 0.916 % and 1.104 % compared to the previous year.

According to the LA’s website, the journals Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research, Infectious Diseases: Research and Treatment, Palliative Care: Research and Treatment, and Virology: Research and Treatment are included in PMC, however, these titles do not appear on the PMC list as of November 1st, 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/journals).