One of the results emerging from the OA APC study is that behind the “APC” there is actually a variety of sub-models. An element of APC charges that makes sense when you think about is that sometimes the fee varies depending on the work involved.
One model that likely reflects the volume of work: some open access publishers charging varying fees depending on the type of article. Following are the fees charged by Bentham Open for their Group One journals (from the publisher’s website as of May 2014):
- Letters: The publication fee for each published Letter article submitted is US $600.
- Research Articles: The publication fee for each published Research article is US $800.
- Mini-Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Mini Review article is US $600.
- Review Articles: The publication fee for each published Review article is US $900.
For Group Two journals, there is a flat fee of $250 per article regardless of type.
BioMedCentral has a similar model, except that instead of differential fees, there is a standard 20% discount for certain types of articles (published protocols and case studies).
I argue that although these variations add complexity to calculating costs, these experiments are healthy and a better reflection of publication charges based on the service of publication than would be the case with a flat fee. Encouraging this approach may be wise to facilitate transparency and to work towards affordable pricing for full open access. Consider, for example, if we push publishers like BMC and Bentham Open to charge a flat fee per article, regardless of type, to simplify accounting. In this scenario, I would predict an APC at or near the highest current per-article price. What do you think?
Other examples of variations in pricing models that reflect the amount of work involved (blogposts to come):
- page charges
- flat fee up to a certain number of pages, page charges for overage
- language editing services