Fee complexity – an example

It is often assumed that article processing charges (APCs) are a single fee, and a straightforward approach to providing revenue to publishers to offset the costs of publication. However APCs can be a very complex affair. Take the Frontiers fee grid as an example. They publish peer-reviewed Gold OA journals in medicine, neuroscience, health, and related fields. A researcher wishing to submit a manuscript needs to navigate the fee grid to figure out what the APCs would be.  There are two tiers of articles (specialty-level and field-level). Within Tier 1, there are four types of articles, ranging in cost from free (e.g. book reviews, commentaries); to mini-review articles ( 575 euros); to original research articles as a research topic submission (960 euros, unless the corresponding author is a Frontiers Media associate or chief editor- 770 euros); a regular submission (1,600 euros unless the corresponding author is a Frontiers Media associate or chief editor – 1,280 euros); and lastly, clinical trial articles (2000 euros). In Tier 2, ie focused reviews or commentary, there are no fees. There are additional page charges in some categories.

This complexity speaks to the challenges of developing business models in an OA knowledge economy. As OA publishers experiment with new business models, it is interesting to observe the numerous levels, options, and discounts for scientific publishing fees  that are  emerging, such as in this example. We are living in a period of healthy and robust experimentation in publishing, and we can expect to see much more variety and nuance in fee models in the journal industry in the coming years. Researchers will need to carefully compare APC options and publishing venues- and what they are getting for their money.            

About Frontiers – As described on their website:

“Frontiers was launched as a grassroots initiative in 2007 by scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, out of the collective desire to improve the publishing options and provide better tools and services to researchers in the Internet age. Since then, Frontiers has become one of the largest and fastest-growing open-access scholarly publishers: over 20,000 high-quality, peer-reviewed articles have been published in 45 community-driven journals across more than 300 specialty niches in science, medicine and technology, and more than 40,000 high-impact researchers serve on the editorial boards and over 6 million monthly page views”

Articles are published with a fast turnaround time- three months after submission, on average.

Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (SKC) – Selected Bibliography on Open Access

Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (SKC) bibliography is a growing list of scholarly articles, books, book chapters, reports as well as primary publications. What began as a bibliographic list designated to the Open Access Article Processing Charges (APC), a project worked on by Heather Morrison, Tony Horava and Stephen Pinfield, has become a more general folder. It comprises the suite of projects under SKC, a concept aiming to remove barriers between all people, whether poor or rich, and the world’s scholarly knowledge. This  Zotero SKC folder will enable the users not only to access the metadata and abstracts of the sources, but also, when possible, provide links to sources that are freely available on the internet. Users will view, print, search by titles, authors, etc., export or generate a reference list to enable collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

This is a folder in progress and more reference recommendations are always welcomed. Please note that you are free to send us suggestions to improve the folder or to add to it.