Medknow in 2018: growing fast!


by Hamid Pashaei and Heather Morrison

Medknow is a commercial scholarly journal publisher based in India, which was acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2011. The analysis of Medknow’s journals in 2018 shows that there has been a significant increase in number of their journals, with 23% increase comparing to 2017. It appears that most of Medknow’s journals are published in collaboration with different universities and societies in the filed of medical research.

Due to variety of affiliated communities who collaborate with Medknow, finding information and collecting data from Medknow’s website is complex. Some data about the processing charge of journals were not available, and the currency was provided in different units (INR, USD, CNY, …) that could also be confusing for potential authors. From the journals for which data was available, 71% charged no processing fee. While the cost for the majority of paid journals were fixed comparing to 2017 data, there were also an increase in cost for some journals. The processing charge for publishing journals is based on APC (Article Processing Charge), with only a few exceptions that were based on APPC (Article Page Processing Charges).


Elsevier in 2018: decrease in number of fully OA journals

Highlights: in 2017, we found that Elsevier was publishing a large number of fully open access journals with no article processing charges due to society or university sponsorships. In 2018, 88 of these titles have been transferred back to the society or university. There has been a drop in the number of fully OA journals published by Elsevier, from 416 to 328 journals. The majority of Elsevier’s fully OA journals are still non-charging. The average APC for Elsevier fully OA journals in 2018 is $1,470 USD, up 6% from 2017.

Raw data – 2 excel spreadsheets (caution – this is preliminary data that is designed for quantitative analysis and does not have detailed documentation). Click to download.

Elsevier_OA_main_2018_final_v1

This is a subset of the 2018 version of the main spreadsheet for the open access article processing charges project. The columns for the 2018 – 2017 comparison on the main Data tab are D, 2018 APC publisher website original currency, and N for 2017. Pricing is from the Elsevier APC price list; “no publication charge” is our standardized term, on the Elsevier PDF this is “Fee waived for author”. If you are interested in the journals that have transferred back to a society or university, go to the next spreadsheet:

Elsevier-noapc_2017_02_16_main_Updated_2018_10_27

In 2017 we noted that there are many Elsevier journals that are “fee waived for author” due to sponsorships and decided to begin tracking these sponsorships and an interesting model of partnership, e.g. statements on the Elsevier webpage that made it clear that Elsevier was publishing on behalf of a society or university that retained copyright. Column I, the notes field for 2018, is where you will find details on journals transferred back to the publisher. This information is gathered from the Elsevier website – journal title list, not the APC price list.

E2018numberjournals

Details

 In April 2017, Elsevier was publishing 416 fully open access journals. As of April 2018, this number had decreased to 328 journals, a decrease of 88 journals or 20% of the total. Data is from the Elsevier APC price list (conversion necessary for data manipulation).E2018nonchargingjpg

Most fully OA journals published by Elsevier do not charge publication fees (61% of the total) due to sponsorship by societies or universities. This percentage is about the same as the previous year (57% non-charging). A survey conducted in 2017 found that almost all non-charging journals were published by Elsevier on behalf of a society or university, with copyright ownership retained by the society or university.

A survey of the Elsevier website for OA journals identified as non-charging in 2017 was conducted over the summer. These journals are still listed on the Elsevier website if not the APC price list and information is provided about the current status of the journals. This is a good practice. A total of 88 journals were found to have been transferred back to the society in 2017 or 2018, or scheduled to be returned to the society or university publisher.

For example, a notes about the The Revista Mexicana de Bioversidad indicated that the journal:

Transferred back to the society as of 2018
Copyright © 2018 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

 

The average APC for Elsevier’s charging, fully OA journals in 2018 was $1,470 USD, up from $1,384 USD in 2017, an increase of 6%.

Thanks to René Duplain for data gathering.

 

 

 

 

Dropped from DOAJ – don’t rush to judge quality

A few years ago the Directory of Open Access Journals underwent a major weeding process. Many journals and entire publishers were removed from the directory. Does this mean that they are low quality? Based on this year’s collection of data from the Asian Network for Scientific Information (ANSInet), my advice is not to be too quick to judge. According to the ANSI website, this publisher is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. Both organizations list ANSInet as a member. Looking at the list of ANSInet journals, I noticed that at least one is not that active; DOAJ will de-list journals that are not active regardless of the quality of publishing. As an aside, I wish DOAJ would stop doing this; there are good journals that publish less frequently and deserve to be listed. For example, there is a tradition of journal publishing associated with conferences, and some conferences are held every other year.

AOSIS: a South African OA publisher with an interesting approach

African Online Information Systems (PTY) Ltd. (AOSIS) is a South African private company (PTY) registered under the number 2002/002017/07. AOSIS is an Open Access publisher with a portfolio of 39 journals as of July 21st, 2018. The journals can be divided under three categories: Fully Sponsored, Partially Sponsored and Non-Sponsored. The partially sponsored journals are interesting for several reasons: 1) unique transparency in explaining that the journals are “sponsored until the money runs out”, a model that creates some uncertainty for authors as to whether they need to pay or not, and how much; 2) differential pricing for members of society sponsors (support for the society as well as OA publishing); 3) and the use of per-page rather than per-article charges. These complexities result in differential pricing for articles for good underlying reasons (sponsorship and its limitations, societies’ needs to provide benefits to members, the variation in work that goes with differences in article length).

AOSIS is using Article Processing Charges by Page (APPC) method for publication in its journals. The APPC varies from a journal to another. Partially sponsored journals receive limited funds from organizations to cover partially the APPC during a calendar year. Authors publishing in partially sponsored journals are responsible for payment of the difference between the APPC full amount and the sponsor’s contribution per page. If the funds allocated by the sponsor for APPC are used before the end of calendar year, authors would have to cover the full APPC. In the case of the Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management, APPC is listed as R1002.00/page (R = South African Rand, currency code: ZAR) equivalent to USD 76.00/page (Exchange rate Aug. 1, 18 at https://www.xe.com/) while the sponsor contribution is R398.00/page ($30.00) which leaves the author with the responsibility to cover the payment of the difference (R604/page) ($46.00).

The South African Journal of Communication Disorders applies, however, different APPC method: the first author receives full subsidies for APPC if he is a paid member in the South African Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SASLAH), while the second author receive 50% subsidies of APPC. If the author is not a member of SASLHA he would have to pay the full APPC. The subsidy for APCs is valid until the limit of the annual SASLHA sponsorship has been reached. Author wishing to publish after the funds are completely used would have the cover the full APPC.

References

AOSIS (2018). Retrieved July 21st, 2018 from https://aosis.co.za/publishing/

 

Ceased and transferred publications and archiving: best practices and room for improvement

In the process of gathering APC data this spring, I noticed some good and some problematic practices with respect to journals that have ceased or transferred publisher.

There is no reason to be concerned about OA journals that do not last forever. Some scholarly journals publish continuously for an extended period of time, decades or even centuries. Others publish for a while and then stop. This is normal. A journal that is published largely due to the work of one or two editors may cease to publish when the editor(s) retire. Research fields evolve; not every specialized journal is needed as a publication venue in perpetuity. Journals transfer from one publisher to another for a variety of reasons. Now that there are over 11,000 fully open access journals (as listed in DOAJ), and some open access journals and publishers have been publishing for years or even decades, it is not surprising that some open access journals have ceased to publish new material.

The purpose of this post is to highlight some good practices when journals cease, some situations to avoid, and room for improvement in current practice. In brief, my advice is that when you cease to publish a journal, it is a good practice to continue to list the journal on your website, continue to provide access to content (archived on your website or another such as CLOCKSS, a LOCKKS network, or other archiving services such as national libraries that may be available to you), and link the reader interested in the journal to where the content can be found.

This is an area where even the best practices to date leave some room for improvement. CLOCKSS archiving is a great example of state-of-the-art but CLOCKSS’ statements and practice indicate some common misunderstandings about copyright and Creative Commons licenses. In brief, author copyright and CC licenses and journal-level CC licensing are not compatible. Third parties such as CLOCKSS should not add CC licenses as these are waivers of copyright. CC licenses may be useful tools for archives, however archiving requires archives; the licenses on their own are not sufficient for this purpose.

I have presented some solutions and suggestions to move forward below, and peer review and further suggestions are welcome.

Details and examples

Dove Medical Press is a model of good practice in this respect. For example, if you click on the title link for Dove’s Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults a pop-up springs up with the following information:

“Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults ceased publishing in January 2017. All new submissions can be made to Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics. All articles that have been published in Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults will continue to be available on the Dove Press site, and will be securely archived with CLOCKSS”.

Because the content is still available via Dove’s website, the journal is not included on the CLOCKSS’ list of triggered content. This is because CLOCKKS releases archived content when it is no longer available from the publisher’s own website.

CLOCKSS Creative Commons licensing statement and practice critique

One critique for CLOCKSS: – from the home page:  “CLOCKSS is for the entire world’s benefit. Content no longer available from any publisher (“triggered content”) is available for free. CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever”.

This reflects some common misperceptions with respect to Creative Commons licenses. As stated on the Creative Commons “share your work” website:  [your emphasis added] “Use Creative Commons tools to help share your work. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give you permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice“.

The CLOCKSS statement  “CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever” is problematic for two reasons.

1. This does not actually reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. The Creative Commons statements associated with triggered content indicate publisher rather than CLOCKSS’ CC licenses. For example, the license statement for the Journal of Pharmacy Teaching on the CLOCKSS website states: “The JournalPharmacyTeaching content is copyright Taylor and Francis and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License”.

2. This would be even more problematic if it did reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. This is because CLOCKSS is not an author or publisher of the scholarly journals and articles included in CLOCKSS. Creative Commons provides a means for copyright owners to indicate willingness to share their work. When a third party such as CLOCKSS uses CC licenses, they are explicitly or implicitly claiming copyright it order to waive their rights under copyright. This reflects an expansion rather than limitation of copyright that may lead to the opposite of what is intended. For example, if one third party is a copyright owner that wishes to claim copyright in order to grant broad-based downstream rights, another third party could use the copyright claim to support their right to claim copyright in order to lock down others’ works. A third party that is a copyright owner providing free access today could use this copyright claim in future as a rationale for toll access. This could come into play if in future toll access seems more desirable from a business perspective.

The CLOCKSS practice of publisher-level copyright (see 1. above) is problematic because Creative Commons first release of CC licenses was in December 2002. Scholarly journal publishing predates 2002 (the first scholarly journals were published in 1665), and not every journal uses CC licenses even today. Retroactive journal-level CC licensing would require re-licensing of every article that was published prior to the journal’s first use of CC licensing.

For example, the copyright statements of volume 1 dated 1990 on the PDFs of the CLOCKSS-triggered Journal of Pharmacy Teaching read: “Journal of Pharmacy Teaching, Vol. l(1)1990 (C) 1990 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved”. This suggests that all authors in this journal at this point in time assigned full copyright to The Haworth Press, although actual practice was probably more complex. For example, if any authors were working for the U.S. federal government at the time, their work would have been public domain by U.S. government policy. Any portions of third party works included would likely have had separate copyright. Even assuming the simplest scenario, all authors had and transferred all rights under copyright to Haworth Press, the authors would retain moral rights, hence it would be necessary to contact all of the authors to obtain their permission to re-license the works under Creative Commons licenses.

The idea of journal-level CC licensing is at odds with the idea of author copyright. This confusion is common. For example, the website of the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association Licensing FAQ states: “one of the criteria for membership is that a publisher must use a liberal license that encourages the reuse and distribution of content” and later “Instead of transferring rights exclusively to publishers (the approach usually followed in subscription publishing), authors grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher to distribute the work, and all users and readers are granted rights to reuse the work”. If copyright and CC licenses really do belong to the authors, then journal-level Creative Commons license statements are incorrect.

Even more room for improvement

The above, while leaving some room for improvement, appears to reflect best practices at the present time. Other approaches leave even more room for improvement. For example, in 2016 Sage acquired open access publisher Libertas Academica. The titles that Sage has continued can now be found on the Sage website. The Libertas Academica titles that Sage no longer publishes can be found as trigged content on the CLOCKSS website. However, the original Libertas Academica website no longer exists and there is no indication of where to find these titles from the Sage website.

Titles that were formerly published by BioMedCentral are simply no longer listed on the BMC list of journals. For example, if you would like to know where to find Gigascience, formerly published by BMC, you can find information at the site of the current publisher, Oxford. A note on the SpringerLink page indicates that BMC maintains an archive of content on its website. However, if you look for Gigascience on the BMC journal list, it simply is not listed. It would be an improvement to follow the practice of Dove and include the title, link to the archived content, and provide a link to the current publisher.

Solutions? Some suggestions

If journals and publishers were encouraged to return copyright to the authors when a journal is no longer published, or a book is no longer being actively marketed (in addition to using their existing rights to archive and make works freely available), then authors, if they chose to do so, could release new versions of their works. For example, a work currently available in PDF could be re-released in XML to facilitate text and data-mining, or perhaps updated versions, and authors could, if desired, release new versions with more liberal licenses than journal-level licenses that must of necessity fit the lowest common denominator (the author least willing or able to share).

Education, among the existing open access community, and beyond is needed. First, we need to understand the perhaps unavoidable micro level nature of at least some elements of copyright under conditions of re-use of material. For example, if a CC-BY licensed image by one photographer or artist is included in a scholarly article written by a different person that is also CC-BY licensed, the moral rights, including attribution, are different for the copyright holder of the image and that of the author of the article. In academia, attribution and moral rights are essential to our careers.

The intersection of plagiarism and copyright is different in academia. If one musical composer copies another’s work, copyright law is likely the go-to remedy. If a student presents someone else’s work as their own, academic procedures for dealing with plagiarism will apply, regardless of the copyright status of the work. For example, the musician using a public domain work need not worry about copyright but the student using a public domain work without attribution is guilty of plagiarism and likely to face serious consequences. Evolving norms for other types of creators (amateur or professional photographers, video game developers) may not work for academia.

For CLOCKSS, a statement that all triggered content is made freely available to the public, and that additional rights may be available for some works, with advice to look at the work in question to understand re-use rights, would be an improvement.

Your comments and suggestions?

This is an area where even today’s best practices are wanting, and the solutions / suggestions listed above are intended as an invitation to open a conversation on potential emerging practices that may take some time to fully figure out. Peer review and suggestions are welcome, via the comments section or e-mail. If you are using e-mail, please let me know if I may transfer the content to this post and if so whether you would like to be attributed or not.

This post is cross-posted to my Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics scholarly blog and forms part of the Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series. Comments and suggestions are welcome on either blog.

 

MDPI pricing (thanks to MDPI CEO Franck Vazquez, PhD)

Thanks to MDPI CEO Franck Vazquez, PhD, for permission to re-post his contributions to a discussion on APC pricing on the SCHOLCOMM listserv and my replies. This is useful information and a good model of how transparency can help to advance our understanding of how to move toward sustainability in open access.

Highlights: this post presents data on MDPI’s APCs and an explanation of MDPI’s business practice: new journals are free to publish in, later APCs and APC increases are based on market value. It is important for publishers and funders to understand that there is an essential conflict with funders of scholarly communication, that is, universities and their libraries, and research organizations. For these organizations,  budgets tend to be based on cost with little or no flexibility to accommodate pricing and price increases based on market value. This incompatibility of organizational strategy is equally relevant whether the revenue model is subscriptions, APC, or other production-based support.


Original e-mails:

Sent to SCHOLCOMM April 16, 2018 (as an addition to the research reported on SKC here):

*Subject:* Re: [SCHOLCOMM] Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ)

Adding up the data summary for MDPI to the picture:

•164 journals with numeric data in 2017 (average APC 438CHF) and 2018
(average APC 533CHF)
•107 journals (65.2%) with no change in APC, including 40 journals free
(average APC 375CHF)
•40 journals (24.3%) with APC increase of 6% – 142% (increase range from
100 – 500CHF; average APC increase 219CHF; average percent increase 27.3%)
•17 journals (10.3%) free in 2017, introduced APC in 2018
(250CHF-550CHF; average APC 370CHF)

Original data can be found here:
http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc
http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc-2017

Some Publishers and Journals statistics can also be found here:
https://www.scilit.net/rankings
Please read the “Disclaimer & Notes”.

Hoping this is useful,
Best wishes,
Franck

Franck Vazquez, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer, MDPI
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
http://www.mdpi.com

http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7967-3798
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Franck_Vazquez
https://www.linkedin.com/in/franck-vazquez-932a96a8/


My reply April 16, 2018

Thank you Franck this is very helpful.

According to this website, the current inflation rate for Switzerland is .8, i.e. less than one per cent:
https://tradingeconomics.com/switzerland/consumer-price-index-cpi

I see that a quarter of MDPI’s journals have an average price increase of 27.3%. It appears that MDPI is not making decisions about price increases based on such factors as consumer price increase or inflation rates.

List members who are interested in supporting OA through paying APCs could benefit from understanding how this works in order to budget for future needs. Can you explain MDPI’s current and/or projected future pricing strategy?

MDPI is one of the publishers who offers “free for now” publishing in order to attract content for new journals. As an author, I have benefited from this as well as from MDPI’s high quality professional editing and peer review. However, if those who pay APCs do not take this practice into account, they will find themselves short of funds in future when established journals start charging APCs, as 10% of MDPI’s journals did this year by your account

Two other notes / questions from MDPI for this year that I wonder if you would like to comment on?

* new pricing coming in July
* partnership with Knowledge Unlatched – on MDPI’s APC price list that
some journals are
“* free for authors; APC funded by Knowledge Unlatched
<http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org>” from: http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc

best,

Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa
Heather.Morrison@uottawa.ca
https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org
https://uniweb.uottawa.ca/?lang=en#/members/706

PS: if CHF is not your local currency, you can find both current and historical conversion rates through XE currency converter: https://www.xe.com/currencytables/


Franck’s reply April 17:

Thanks Heather, I am glad you had a good experience publishing in /Publications/ (and /Data/)!

Our decision to introduce or increase the APC of a journal depends on many factors including the field of research, the reputation (visibility,citation, indexing), and volume (=age) of the journal. It is not always possible to cover the cost of our work directly and from the beginning. The newest journals are free for a few years, typically three years; researchers would not be able to raise funding to cover the APC of these journals. Also, some journals which support research fields in which OA funding remains marginal do not introduce an APC, even after Volume 6 or more, as it is the case for the journals /Publications/, /Arts/, or a few others. Therefore the costs associated with publishing in these journals must be subsided by the APC of established journals.

The “average 27.3% APC increase for 40 journals” we talk about here results in a mild increase in the average APC of these journals. Average increase is 219 CHF, from 802 CHF in 2017 to 1020 CHF in 2018 for these 40 titles. This is on the lower end of APC distribution for international publishers: https://treemaps.intact-project.org/apcdata/openapc/#publisher/

Concerning the planned increase in July:
Eight journals which were accepted for coverage in SCIE in November will have their APC increased, following the reasoning explained before. As usual we give a >6 months notice to authors before the APC increase becomes effective.

About the partnership with Knowledge Unlatched:
We are running this as a trial for 9 journals which normally apply the indicated APC. We are exploring this funding model as a viable alternative for our HSS journals. For transparency reasons and to give credit to KU for their initiative, we decided to list the APC on the website with the note “* free for authors; APC funded by Knowledge Unlatched” rather than erasing the APC from the website.

Best wishes
Franck


My reply April 17:

Thank you Franck.

What you are describing is normal business practice. In ordinary everyday terms, businesses of all kinds often start out with below-cost pricing (introductory special offers for example), in order to attract customers, then raise prices. When average people sell their homes or other goods, the default is to seek market value (the most I can get for this), rather than cost-based pricing.

MDPI’s transparency may be helpful to those wishing to support the APC approach (publishers and payers), as it gives us an opening to talk about an inherent conflict that might cause shock and setbacks, giving an opportunity to prepare and consider strategies to minimize or avoid the likelihood of this happening.

The inherent conflict stems from the desire of for-profit publishers to derive the maximum value from their work, in contrast to the cost-conscious, accountability focused customer (universities and funding agencies). In subscriptions publishing for many decades there has been an inelastic market, with publishers expecting to raise prices beyond inflationary rates year after year while university-customers do not have corresponding revenue growth to support this. In North America in the last few decades the trend has been flat or declining budgets. Hence the serials crisis, periodic breakdown such as Germany’s Elsevier cancellations and France’s Springer cancellations, and strong desire to change the system which is one of the drivers behind the OA movement, although not a motive shared by all.

What could easily happen is that those who wish to support a flip to OA via APCs will under-budget based on current spend and/or current list prices, resulting in shock and insufficient funds when publishers move to pricing more accurately reflecting costs and/or market value.

Another way to express this: when your library has to deal with budget cuts, or, at best, a flat budget (typical in North America), you are not likely to have much sympathy for a publisher raising prices by 27%, regardless of how rational this might be as a business practice.

This is what I mean in that Publications article when I describe the APC model as volatile. The market, in my opinion, is not sufficiently stable for systemic budgeting purposes. Support for this approach should be considered experimental at this time.

There are other approaches to supply-side funding to provide for open access, such as sponsorships, library publishing, and cost-based APC pricing as practiced by UK-based Ubiquity Press. Those who wish to support APCs, in my opinion, are wise to do so through consortia. Hence my interest in your partnership with Knowledge Unmatched.

best,

Heather Morrison
sustainingknowledgecommons.org


The original e-mails are available on the SCHOLCOMM listserv archives.

ELPUB 2018: Global OA APC trends 2010 – 2017

The final paper is now available in the HAL archive at: https://elpub.episciences.org/4604

This June 22 – 24 I will be attending and presenting at ELPUB 2018 on Global Open Access APCs 2010 – 2017: major trends. The slides for my talk on Saturday, June 23 are available here: https://www.slideshare.net/hgmorris/hgm-elpub2018

Abstract

The open access (OA) article processing charges (APC) project is a longitudinal study of the minority of fully OA journals (27% in 2016) that have APCs. The global average APC shows little change; in USD, 906 in 2010, 964 in 2016, 974 in 2017. The average masks currency differences and the impact of a growing market; new APC journals often start with an APC of 0. Traditional commercial scholarly publishers are entering the OA market: the largest OA journal publishers’ portfolios in 2017 were Springer, De Gruyter, Elsevier, and Wolters Kluwer Medknow. However, these are a small portion of OA journal publishing which is still marked by a very long tail and extensive involvement by very small, often university or society publishers. APC pricing shows a wide range and variability. The APC market can be described as volatile.

Keywords: OA, APCs, economics