APCs in DOAJ 2017: summary of 3 studies

The DOAJ application form requests information from journals and publishers about article processing charges: whether or not there are charges, if yes the amount and currency, and a URL for more information. Is DOAJ APC data sufficient for the purposes of our longitudinal study on APC charges? In brief, we compared the APCs on publisher website for 3 publishers and conclude that no, DOAJ APC is not sufficient. There are significant differences between APC data on the websites of publishers Hindawi, MDPI, and Taylor & Francis. Conclusion: APC details in DOAJ are not sufficient for the longitudinal study of APC.

Details in brief and links to substantive posts

We used the DOAJ metadata as of Jan. 31, 2017 (our DOAJ metadata set for the 2017 APC study) for these studies.

Widlyne Brutus compared journal and APC data for Hindawi on the Hindawi website and in DOAJ – not an easy task as the title lists in DOAJ and on the Hindawi website are quite different. DOAJ includes titles that Hindawi no longer publishes (a good practice but this makes research a challenge), but not all of the titles that Hindawi currently does publish. Hindawi titles have a high rate of APC listings in DOAJ, but only 9% of the titles have the same price in DOAJ and on the publisher’s website. 144 titles have higher prices on the publisher’s website, while 45 have a lower price on the publisher’s website. Details: https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2017/03/14/hindawi-apc-le-site-web-dhindawi-versu-le-repertoire-du-doaj/

Arbia Ouerghi found that 107 MDPI titles listed in DOAJ have an APC according to the MDPI website. DOAJ has APC data for only 21 of these journals, and only 3 have the same price on the MDPI website and in DOAJ. APCs on the MDPI website are higher than those listed in DOAJ. Details: https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2017/03/02/comparaison-doaj-et-mdpi-titres-et-apc/

Katherine Laprade found 150 fully OA titles on the Taylor and Francis website. 77% of these titles have an APC according to the Taylor & Francis website, but only 1% have an APC listed in DOAJ. Of these titles, 54% have a different amount in DOAJ as compared with the publisher’s website. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2017/03/28/taylor-francis-2017-data/

Comment (Heather Morrison): the question about whether journals charge an APC or not is a useful one, however the answer based on our research is more complex than a simple yes / no. DOAJ used to have a “conditional” charges option that I recommend re-instating. As we noted in 2014 (Morrison et al, 2015), the vast majority of fully OA journals (over 90%) have variations in pricing based on such factors as the status of the author (society member, editing contributions to the journal, location, perceived ability to pay), and the nature of the work (length, quality, type of article). A single flat-fee approach to APC does exist but is not that common. Collecting specific APC information and keeping it up to date will depend on publishers updating DOAJ every time there is a price change. It seems likely that DOAJ’s APC information will become more and more outdated over time. The yes / no / conditional information and link to where to find the information seem likely to be stable and useful, but DOAJ and its user community might want to reconsider the costs and benefits of capturing specific APC amounts.


Morrison, H.; Salhab, J.; Calvé-Genest, A.; Horava, T. Open Access Article Processing Charges: DOAJ Survey May 2014. Publications 2015, 3, 1-16. doi:10.3390/publications3010001

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