by Heather Morrison & Jihane Salhab
Noting the important caveat of the mythical nature of “the OA APC” as a single per-article price, following are the range, central tendencies and some highlights from our 2015 OA APC data.
The overall average of journals sampled in 2015 was $998, compared to $964 in 2014 and $906 reported by Solomon & Björk in 2010. These are modest average increases (4% 2014 – 2015, 2% per year from 2010 – 2015). However, the average may mask contradictory tendencies, such as low or no fees for new journals to attract content obscuring increases for journals that either are, or are becoming, established.
From 2014 – 2015 on a per-title basis there was a fairly even 3-way split between journals that retained the same price, increased or decreased their price.
Different publishers show different tendencies. Hindawi, the largest OA publisher by number of journals, has such an impact we are beginning to call this the “Hindawi factor”. In 2015, the overall mode (most common price) is $800, while the mode without Hindawi is $2,145. The following two charts illustrate the variation in pricing tendencies from 2010 – 2015 for the two largest OA APC publishers, Hindawi and BMC, reflecting the differences in approach to pricing for these publishers over the same time frame.
The above chart shows a relatively steady average and median in contrast with a varying mode (most common price) from 2010 – 2015.
It is important to note that the samples are not entirely comparable. Notably, to facilitate the longitudinal study we have not included new publishers listed in DOAJ as of 2015. This is an important limitation. For example, DeGruyter, not present in 2014, is the 3rd largest DOAJ publisher in 2015. The following details illustrate that the average cost-to-publish in a fully OA journal with publication fees in 2015 varies from about $250 USD to $2,145 USD, depending on the measure and particular sample of journals selected.
Range: $0 – $4,500
$0 APC = journals has APCs but currently price is $0. Most commonly this is used by journals that are “free for now” until more content is added.
|Average (mean)||Median||Mode||Standard deviation|
|Preliminary sample (all)||1,051
|Preliminary sample (weighted)||858|
|Preliminary sample (excluding $0 APC)||1114|
|Preliminary sample (excluding $0 APC) weighted||1370|
Preliminary sample: includes the 1,363 journals sampled in 2010, 2013 and/or 2014 confirmed as using APCs (excluding journals using APPC but not APC). APC of $0 (journals for which APC method is confirmed but no current charges, e.g. “free for now” approach) are included unless otherwise specified. The weighted figures adjust by a sampling factor designed to give added weight to journals from categories with lower rates of sampling, journals by publishers with less than 10 journals using APCs.
Full sample: 1,999 journals including preliminary sample plus additional journals sampled from publisher’s website.
|Excluding $0 APC||1,077
|Excluding $0 APC) weighted||1,034
See above for description of “weighted”.
More details will be posted as our data analysis continues.