Summary: this post summarizes my analysis of Co-Action publication fees as of 2010, 2015, and 2016 and comments on the Co-Action pricing structure. In brief, there is a 5% average price increase for journals for which article-level publication fees are available for 2015 and 2016, and a 44% average price increase for the 7 journals for which article-level publication fee data is available for 2010 and 2016. These increases contrast with EU inflation rates during this time frame, generally modest (high of 3%) and sometimes negative. It is important to note that Co-Action is one of many publishers that offers a range of pricing rather than a single flat per-article fee. A number of Co-Action journals have a policy of free of charge to publish unless there is an author fund available. This model is a fairly clear illustration of the interests of APC-charging publishers in this type of funds. I raise the point that in this respect the interests of APC publishers is not necessarily aligned with the interests of researchers, institutions and funders, who may favour prioritizing funding for research and researchers. In this respect, the interests of APC publishers may more closely resemble the financial interests of toll access publishers than other stakeholders in the open access ecosystem. This may be understandable – but it is important to understand.
Co-Action’s researcher pricing is interesting from a number of perspectives. It is important to note that there is no flat per-article publishing charge. Each journal has its own pricing structure. There is typically a range of prices based on such factors as type and length of article. Occasionally, there are deals for society members. A number of journals are free of charge – except for authors who have access to institutional or funder OA funds. I count these as APC journals. This explanation from the publication fee page of the Journal of European Continuing Medical Education is typical:
Publishing in Journal of European Continued Medical Education is now free of charge thanks to a generous grant from European CME Forum with additional support from the European Board for Accreditation in Cardiology (EBAC) and the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS).
However, if the author’s university or institute officially maintains a central fund to cover costs for Open Access Publishing, or the article describes results from research funded by an Open Access-friendly funding agency, a publication fee will be charged at a rate of 1250 EUR/1450 USD for a regular article.
Comment: this model is a clear illustration of the interests of publishers reliant on APCs in this funding model for open access. It is important to note that in this instance the interests of APC publishers are not necessarily aligned with the interests of researchers, institutions or funding agencies for whom funding for research per se, salaries and infrastructure support for researchers is a higher priority. In this respect, the interests of APC-charging publishers and publishers reliant on subscriptions / purchase (money to pay for publishing) are identical even if the preferred model is not.
As of 2016, Co-Action publishes 27 APC-charging journals, 4 journals with page rather than article charges, and 4 journals are completely free of publication charges. The 2016 average of 1,184 EUR compares favorably with the 2015 average of 1,173 EUR. However, when the per-journal price changes for 2015 and 2016 are compared, there is an average 5% price increase (22 journals with data both years) and when the 7 journals for which we have data for 2010 and 2016 are compared, there is an average increase of 342 EUR or a 44% price increase. These price increases are much higher than EU inflation rates in recent years; the 10-year average from 2005 – 2014 was just under 21% (EU Commission).