Open access article processing charges 2011 – 2021

by: Heather Morrison, Luan Borges, Xuan Zhao, Tanoh Laurent Kakou & Amit Nataraj Shanbhoug


This study examines trends in open access article processing charges (APCs) from 2011 – 2021, building on a 2011 study by Solomon & Björk (2012). Two methods are employed, a modified replica and a status update of the 2011 journals. Data is drawn from multiple sources and datasets are available as open data (Morrison et al, 2021). Most journals do not charge APCs; this has not changed. The global average per-journal APC increased slightly, from 906 USD to 958 USD, while the per-article average increased from 904 USD to 1,626 USD, indicating that authors choose to publish in more expensive journals. Publisher size, type, impact metrics and subject affect charging tendencies, average APC and pricing trends. About half the journals from the 2011 sample are no longer listed in DOAJ in 2021, due to ceased publication or publisher de-listing. Conclusions include a caution about the potential of the APC model to increase costs beyond inflation, and a suggestion that support for the university sector, responsible for the majority of journals, nearly half the articles, with a tendency not to charge and very low average APCs, may be the most promising approach to achieve economically sustainable no-fee OA journal publishing.

A preprint of the full article is available here:

The two base datasets and their documentation are available as open data:

Morrison, Heather et al., 2021, “2011 – 2021 OA APCs”,, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1

Citation: cite the original URL rather than this blogpost URL (article); if citing data, use the citation above.

Morrison, H., Borges, L., Zhao, X., Kakou, T.L., Shanbhoug, A.M. (2021). Open access article processing charges 2020 – 2021. Preprint. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.