What do rankings tell us about higher education? Roundtable at the Peter Wall Centre, Vancouver May 2017

May 13 – 17 I will be at a roundtable talking about rankings and higher education at the Peter Wall Centre, University of British Columbia. If you’re in Vancouver join us for one of the public events!

My approach to rankings is a critical one flowing from my theoretical perspective of irrational (or instrumental) rationality. In brief, we humans have a tendency to develop tools such as metrics to help us then become slaves to the tools. The old metrics (e.g. relying on high impact factor journals) are a barrier to productive change in scholarly communication; but will the new metrics be any better? What are your thoughts on university rankings? Comments are welcome.


OA APCs in 2016: average $840 USD, price skew at low end of range

Here is another early result from the 2016 OA APC project. Of the 3,282 journals for which we have APC data, the average is $840 USD, and the media $600, illustrating a skew towards the low end of the price range. That is to say, half of the APCs are below $600. Excluding journals with an APC of $0 (journals that clearly  use the APC model but are currently free to publish in), the average is $877 USD. This year’s average of $840 is $124 or 13% less than the average of $964 USD the team found in 2014. This finding should be interpreted with caution as pricing for specific journals may have increased substantially, with the global total offset by large numbers of journals that are small, new, or from the developing world with relatively lower APCs. The 3,282 journals are all journals for which we were able to confirm pricing and specify a particular APC. Journals using article page processing charges (APPC) are considered as a separate model and not included in this analysis. The full dataset and documentation are in progress.

The following chart and table illustrate the pricing by bands of $500.

OA APCs by price range in 500s.jpg

APC in USD by range by 500’s # of journals
0 – 500 1,486
501 – 1,000 739
1,001 – 1,500 278
1,501 – 2,000 599
2,001 – 2,500 101
2,501 – 3,000 33
3,001 – 3,500 10
3,501 – 4,000 26
4,001 – 4,500 5
4,501 – 5,000 2
5,001 – 5,250 2
Total (missing one) 3,281

OA journals study 2016: 65% free-to-publish

First result from the 2016 OA APC study: of the 12,060 journals for which we have data for 2016, 7,786 are free to publish in (noted free in Crawford (2016)*, plus no publication fee (SKC team)). 3,510 or 29% have a publication fee (APC or article page processing charge, cost specified or not specified). 404 or 3% were “cost not found”, i.e. we could not determine whether or not there is a cost associated with publishing. 343 or 3% were title not found (titles might be discontinued  or there could be technical issues with websites or connectivity). The 12,060 journals include journals whose publishers either are, or have been, listed in DOAJ, including titles from many publishers that are not currently listed in DOAJ. Dataset and detailed documentation are in progress.


* Thanks to Walt Crawford for providing open data for his Gold Open Access Jounals 2011-2016 dataset. Without this work it would not have been possible to expand the OA APC study from a sample of about a quarter of the journals listed in DOAJ to all of DOAJ and beyond. In particular, 7,040 of the journals confirmed as free to publish in are from Crawford’s work.

Crawford, W. (2016). Gold Open Access Journals 2011 – 2016. http://walt.lishost.org/2016/05/gold-open-access-journals-2011-2015-its-here/

Various APC models: the case of conference proceedings

By Victoria Volkanova and Heather Morrison

In a small, serendipitous, non-random sample of 170 Eastern European journals that were part of gathering data for the OA APCs project, we came across an interesting income model where the APCs are included in the annual conference registration. The journals seem to be closely associated with the scientific conferences organized by either universities or academic societies. Six (6) out of 170 journals (3.5%) use this model:

  1. Academy of Sciences and Arts of Republic of Srpska publishes a journal that is part of the International Scientific Conference “Contemporary Materials”. It charges no APC for articles, but 100 KM (Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark) per paper is included in the conference registration
  2. Wychowanie w Rodzinie/Family Upbringing *: APC is 100 EUR; for participants of the International Scientific Conference “Education in the Family” publication fee is part of the conference fee *Please note that on February 21st the journal’s website is no longer responding. We will verify the link in the next days and update the blog accordingly.
  3. Aerul şi Apa: Componente ale Mediului/Air and Water Components of the Environment: 100 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for the conference proceedings
  4. Challenges of the Knowledge Society: 100 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for the conference proceedings (CKS Journal)
  5. Proceedings of the International Conference Nanomaterials : Applications and Properties: 200 EUR Conference Fee, includes APC for conference proceedings
  6. Risk in Contemporary Economy: 300 RON Conference Fee (Romanian New Leu), includes APC for conference proceedings

The countries of origin of the journals are:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (1)
  • Poland (1)
  • Romania (3)
  • Ukraine (1)

Their websites state that the fees for the publication in the conference proceedings or the journals are included in the conference registration. This is a model that looks like an APC but in fact isn’t. Other journals or conference organizers might consider this model as an alternative source of funding for scientific journals.