OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019

by: Snehita Singh and Heather Morrison

This article summarizes qualitative analysis of APC (Articles Processing Charges) in 2019 and comparison of the central tendencies for APC and APPC (Article page processing charges) of the year 2010 and 2014-2019.

Dataset: Morrison, Heather, et al. 2019, “OA APC longitudinal study dataset 2019”, https://doi.org/10.5683/SP2/0DIPGE, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1

OA APC Main 2019 dataset documentation

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/20/oa-main-2019-dataset-documentation-and-open-peer-review-invitation/


For the year 2019, we analyzed around 16000 journals that were fully open access in DOAJ (or whose publishers were listed in DOAJ) at some point from 2010 – 2019. More than half of these journals (58%) published had no publication charge.30% of the journals have publications fees. The most frequent model is APC (28% of total) followed by APPC (page charges), under 1%. In a few cases the cost was not specified or an unusual model such as charge per word was used. Of all the journals analyzed, the title of 4% of journals were not found and 3% of journals belonged to ceased publication. It was noted that 53 journals (less than 1%) also had hybrid charges (partially open access) in 2019. The global average APC was 908 USD. From 2010 the global average APC has ranged from 906 – 974 USD. The lack of change in the global average contrasts with variation in mode, reflecting change in the market, particularly ongoing entry of large numbers of new journals, gradually increasing maximum amounts for both APC and APPC, and substantial changes we sometimes observe when recording data for particular publishers. We conclude that continuing to calculate the global average is a less fruitful method of studying the transition to open access and plan to continue this longitudinal study by using the historical data gathered to focus on case studies.

Moreover, the highest value for APC in 2019 went up to 5800 USD whereas the lowest value remained at 0 USD. The SKC team distinguishes between journals that indicate an intention not to charge (no publication fee) and APC-based journals that have not yet begun to charge (identified as APC journals with APC of 0). The mode was noted to be 500 USD.


We also analyzed the central tendencies for APC and APPC for over the years of this study. It was observed that there wasn’t much change in the global average of APCs and APPCs from the year 2010 to 2019 and it ranged between 840 to 1090 USD.


The global average of APPC was noted to vary between 50 to 110 USD.


The highest value of APCs observed each year shows a gradual upward trend over the years and the lowest value of APCs has remained between 0 to 8 USD.

For APPC, the highest value shows a steep increase reaching up to 1844 USD in 2019 (for Karger’s, Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra, 4 times higher than the second highest APPC) when compared to the previous years. The minimum value of APPCs varied between 0 to 5 USD over the years.


It was observed that the mode of APCs between year 2010 and 2019 kept varying from year to year. It was lowest in the year 2014 and 2017 with 0 USD and highest in the year 2016 and 2018 with around 1800 USD.


For APPCs, it reached to a minimum of 30 USD in 2015.Apart from that, it remained between 50 to 90 USD over the years.


Discussion and conclusions

The global average (mean) APC has changed little over the years. In 2010, Solomon & Björk (2012) recorded an average of 906 USD. Our 2014 data yielded an average of 964 USD (Morrison et al., 2015), in 2017, 974 USD (Morrison, 2018), and for 2019 we record an average of 908 USD. This contrasts with variation in mode or most common APC and gradually increasing maximum APC and APPC and the changing prices we observe when studying particular publishers (most often price increases, sometimes a mix of price increases and decreases). For example, Shi (2019) reports a 2019 Hindawi average APC of 1,186 USD, well above the global average and a 14% increase over the 2018 Hindawi APC. As reported by Pashaei and Morrison (2019), DeGruyter is rapidly expanding its collection of open access journal titles, primarily through its new Sciendo imprint. Most of the OA journals of this commercial publisher do not charge publication fees; of those that do, the range of APC prices is much lower for Sciendo than De Gruyter. A focus on the global average APC does not tell the story of what is happening in the transition to open access. We conclude that continuing to calculate a global average APC is less fruitful in understanding OA transition, and for this reason our future research will build on the OA Main dataset for historical context for a series of case studies.



Solomon, D. J. and Björk, B. (2012), A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J Am Soc Inf Sci Tec, 63: 1485-1495. doi:10.1002/asi.22673

Crawford, W. (2019). Gold Open Access 2013-2018: Articles in Journals (GOA4), Livermore, CA:2019. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2019 from https://waltcrawford.name/goa4.pdf

Morrison, H.; Salhab, J.; Calvé-Genest, A.; Horava, T. Open Access Article Processing Charges: DOAJ Survey May 2014. (205). Publications 3: 1-16. http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/3/1/1

Morrison, H. (2018). Global OA APCs (APC) 2010–2017: Major Trends. Chan, L. & Pierre Mounier. P. , eds. ELPUB 2018, June 2018, Toronto, Canada. <10.4000/proceedings.elpub.2018.16>.  Retrieved July 5, 2018 from https://elpub.episciences.org/4604

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019). De Gruyter and Sciendo Open Access journals expanding in 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/10/16/de-gruyter-and-sciendo-open-access-journals-expanding-in-2019/

Shi, A. (2019). Hindawi APC comparison 2018-2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/05/hindawi-apc-comparison-2018-2019/

Cite as: Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/23/oa-journals-non-charging-and-charging-central-trends-2010-2019/

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