Many small open access journals / publishers do not charge APCs

This chart illustrates the difference in skew between DOAJ charges that had charges or no charges in May 2014, as explained in the blogpost text.As we recently reported in MDPI’s Publications, our sample of DOAJ journals charging APCs showed a skew in size of publisher with journals in this category. Most journals were published either by publishers with 50+ journals using APCs, or 1- 9 journals using APCs, with not much in the middle. To prepare for our next study we are drawing a small sample of the much larger set of DOAJ journals with “no charges”. In preparing for this stratified / random sample we stumbled upon a different skew for this set of journals, that is, a very large skew towards the very small journals but no skew towards larger publishers. The chart above illustrates this difference in skew. To express this in plain language, what we are seeing here is a very large number of open access journals with no article processing charges (5,669 journals or 88% of no-charges journals) published by publishers with less than 10 journals in this category. The relatively small percentage of journals that do not fit in this category are spread somewhat evenly between the other size ranges.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2015). Many small open access journals / publishers do not charge APCs. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from

Open Access Article Processing Charges: DOAJ Survey May 2014

The article reporting the results of our May 2014 survey of DOAJ journals using open access article processing charges is now available in MPDI’s Publications. The abstract and citation details are below. To download the data behind the study, go to the dataverse.

Abstract: As of May 2014, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed close to ten thousand fully open access, peer reviewed, scholarly journals. Most of these journals do not charge article processing charges (APCs). This article reports the results of a survey of the 2567 journals, or 26% of journals listed in DOAJ, that do have APCs based on a sample of 1432 of these journals. Results indicate a volatile sector that would make future APCs difficult to predict for budgeting purposes. DOAJ and publisher title lists often did not closely match. A number of journals were found on examination not to have APCs. A wide range of publication costs was found for every publisher type. The average (mean) APC of $964 contrasts with a mode of $0. At least 61% of publishers using APCs are commercial in nature, while many publishers are of unknown types. The vast majority of journals charging APCs (80%) were found to offer one or more variations on pricing, such as discounts for authors from mid to low income countries, differential pricing based on article type, institutional or society membership, and/or optional charges for extras such as English language editing services or fast track of articles. The complexity and volatility of this publishing landscape is discussed.

Citation: Morrison, H.; Salhab, J.; Calvé-Genest, A.; Horava, T. Open Access Article Processing Charges: DOAJ Survey May 2014. Publications 2015, 3, 1-16