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/

Elsevier as an open access publisher

Just published:

Morrison, H. (2017). From the field: Elsevier as an open access publisher. The Charleston Advisor 18:3, pp. 53-59 doi https://doi.org/10.5260/chara.18.3.53


Highlights of this broad-brush case study of Elsevier’s Open Access (OA) journals as of 2016: Elsevier offers 511 fully OA journals and 2,149 hybrids. Most fully OA journals do not charge article processing charges (APCs). APCs of fully OA journals average $660 US ($1,731 excluding no-fee journals); hybrid OA averages $2,500. A practice termed author nominal copyright is observed, where copyright is in the name of the author although the author contract is essentially a copyright transfer. The prospects for a full Elsevier flip to OA via APC payments for articles going forward are considered and found to be problematic.

Save the date! April 1, 2017 all-day open access workshop at University of Ottawa

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons is co-sponsoring an all-day open access workshop at the University of Ottawa. The workshop, part of a new master’s-level special topics course on open access, ISI 6300, will be designed to facilitate conversation on emerging topics in open access and related areas, and will feature local and visiting scholars engaged in various open access initiatives and research in addition to student presentations. Presentations will be in French or English and discussion welcome in either language. Registration will be free but required.

Confirmed speakers to date:

Inma Aleixos Borrás. Visiting Scholar. Tentative topic. “European Commission policies on (research) Open Data”. Website: www.inmaaleixos.com

Victoria Volkanova. Visiting Librarian « Les pratiques de publication des chercheurs en milieu francophone minoritaire à l’ère numérique » (see the SKC About the Team page for bio info).

Susan Spronk. University of Ottawa – Faculty of Social Sciences & Editor, Studies in Political Economy.

Kyle Conway & Bill Crahere: The Digital Press @ University of North Dakota

Mary Francoli hhttps://carleton.ca/sjc/profile/francoli-mary/ Open government


École des Sciences de l’Information | School of Information Studies http://arts.uottawa.ca/sis/

The Association des étudiants en sciences de l’information / Information Studies Student Association (AÉSISSA) http://arts.uottawa.ca/sis/student-experience/student-association

University of Ottawa Digital Humanities | Université d’Ottawa Sciences Humaines Numériques http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/info/regist/calendars/programs/1731.html

Sustaining the Knowledge Commons | Soutenir les Savoirs Communs (SKC): sustainingknowledgecommons.org

Watch for further details as planning unfolds early in 2017.

The workshop is part of a special topics class on open access, ISI 6300. An early draft of the course outline is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5n66wofwO7ackhZaE9aaXo3d3M/view

Inside e-life: what it costs to publish

Update September 6: Kent Anderson has published a critique of e-life’s annual report on the Scholarly Kitchen blog (published by the Society for Scholarly Publishing). Thanks to Danny Kingsley on the Global Open Access List.

Thanks to Emily Packer, e-life Press Office, via the SSP list for the following, and to e-life for their transparency. As a bit of context, e-life is a new journal aiming to compete with the most prestigious scholarly journals. Their costs are quite a bit higher than the average APC, reflecting a number of factors, including paying editors and significant staff costs, and the costs of developing their own technology platform (now available to all as open source).

Emily Packer’s message:

Of interest, eLife has published its 2015 annual report, detailing our costs of publishing versus those of our technology innovation and development.

Every year since 2012, eLife has published an annual report on activities along with our US Form 990 (required for our type of non-profit organisation) and our audited financial accounts. This year, we present a deeper view of our 2015 financials, covering publishing and non-publishing expenses.

As part of our ambition to change how science publishing works, especially among highly selective journals, we hope that being transparent about our costs will help set a future course for research communication that is efficient and sustainable.

eLife’s Executive Director, Mark Patterson, and Head of External Relations, Jennifer McLennan, have written a blog post that provides further information about our costs (https://elifesciences.org/elife-news/inside-elife-what-it-costs-publish) and the Times Higher Education featured a news piece: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/elife-reveals-publication-costs-spark-debate-journal-prices.

Our 2015 annual report is also available to view here: https://2015.elifesciences.org.

SKC seeking senior international undergrads for 2017 summer interships (English or French)

Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (SKC) has openings for up to 2 senior international undergraduates for a 12-week research internship starting May 2017. Your assistance in identifying and encouraging suitable applicants would be greatly appreciated. Brief information about the Globalink Research Internships and links to application information follows along with details about the SKC project. To find the project on the Globalink projects page, search for “open access” with the languages “English or French” and select the project titled “Soutenir les savoirs communs: littérature savante en libre accès”. Note that SKC interns can work in English, French, or both as desired.

Mitacs Globalink (Français suit)

The student call for applications for Globalink Research Internships is now open. To access the list of eligible projects, please visit our online database at https://globalink.mitacs.ca/. The deadline to apply is September 20, 2016, at 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

The Globalink Research Internship offers a 12-week research project at Canadian universities for high-achieving senior undergraduates from Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. Starting May 2017, approved students travel to Canada, where they work with a faculty supervisor and other researchers at their host universities.

Interns receive:

Stipend for living expenses
Professional development workshops
Local Globalink Mentors

For more information visit the Globalink Research Internships web page.
L’appel destiné aux étudiants pour les stages de recherche Globalink est maintenant lancé. Pour accéder à la liste des projets retenus, veuillez consulter notre base de données en ligne à l’adresse https://globalink.mitacs.ca/ . La date limite pour présenter une demande est le 20 septembre 2016 à 16h, heure avancée du Pacifique (HAP).

Le Programme de stages de recherche Mitacs Globalink offre un projet de recherche de 12 semaines dans une université canadienne aux finissants de premier cycle de l’Allemagne, de l’Arabie saoudite, de l’Australie, du Brésil, de la Chine, de la France, de l’Inde, du Mexique et de la Tunisie. À partir du mois de mai 2017, les candidats retenus voyageront au Canada où ils travailleront avec un superviseur universitaire et d’autres chercheurs à leur université d’accueil.

Voici ce qui est offert aux stagiaires :

une allocation pour les frais de subsistance;
des ateliers de perfectionnement professionnel;
un mentor Globalink local

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, consultez la page du Programme de stages de recherche Globalink.

Soutenir les savoirs communs: littérature savante en libre accès / Sustaining the knowledge commons: open access scholarship (Français suit)

There is a broad consensus among researchers, librarians, research funding agencies, non-governmental organizations and even most scholarly publishers that today the optimum method of sharing the results of research is open access, that is, articles, books and data that are freely available through the internet. The dilemma is how to transform a system based on demand (subscriptions and purchases) to a system based on production in order to sustain free access for the reader. Sustaining the knowledge commons targets the means of transformation by studying the models used by open access scholarly journals (for example, article processing fees or subsidies). Thanks to a generous grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, we are a team in the process of growth consisting of the principal investigator and several students, most of whom are at the graduate level. We are conducting a longitudinal study using an innovative open research approach. We publish our data and results as part of the work process. The idea is to facilitate research in this area (for example, other researchers use our data) and to speed up knowledge translation, because there are organizations that want to accelerate the transformation process by using their funds, ike the signatories of OA 2020 http://oa2020.org/. Student training is central to the project. The interns will have lots of opportunities to learn about the issues of open access and research methods, including data management and how to plan, execute and write up the results of mini-research projects in the form of blogposts. This is an unparalleled opportunity to learn in an area that is of interest to research agencies, universities and their libraries, publishing houses and those who pay for scholarly publishing. This training will be very useful for students who want to continue on to graduate studies or to join the workforce. The team is bilingual. As you prefer, you can work entirely in English or French or both languages.

Il y a un large consensus parmi les chercheurs, bibliothécaires, les agences de fonds de la recherche, les organismes non gouvernementaux et même la plupart des maisons d’édition, qu’aujourd’hui la méthode optimale de partage les résultats de la recherche est libre accès, ça veut dire que les articles, livres, et données sont disponibles gratuitement sur l’internet. Le dilemme est comment transformer un système basé sur demande (abonnements et achats) en un système basé sur production afin de soutenir l’accès gratuit au lecteur. Soutenir les savoirs communs cible les moyens de transformation en étudiant les modèles utilisés par les revues savants en libre accès (par exemple, les frais de publication ou les subventions). Grâce à une subvention généreuse du Conseil de recherche en sciences humaines, nous sommes une équipe en train de grandir qui consiste de la chercheuse principale et quelques étudiants, la plupart au niveau de troisième cycle. Nous faisons une étude longitudinale en utilisant une approche innovatrice de la recherche ouverte. Nous publions nos données et nos résultats en processus de travail. L’idée est de faciliter la recherche (d’autres chercheurs utilisent nos données, par exemple) et d’accélérer le transfert des connaissances, car il y a les organismes qui veulent accélérer la transformation en libre accès en utilisant leurs fonds comme les signataires de OA2020 http://oa2020.org/La formation des étudiants est centrale au projet. Les internes auront beaucoup d’occasion d’apprendre les enjeux de libre accès et les méthodes de la recherche, incluant la gestion des données, la planification, exécution et rédaction des petits projets de la recherche en forme de postes de blogues. Ceci est une opportunité sans parallèle d’apprentissage dans un sujet qui intéresse les agences des fonds de la recherche, les universités et leurs bibliothèques, les maisons d’édition et les payeurs. La formation serait très utile aux étudiants qui veulent continuer au troisième cycle ou qui veulent joindre le monde de travail. L’équipe est bilingue. Selon vos préférences, vous pouvez travailler entièrement en français, en anglais, ou tous les deux.

Dr. Heather Morrison
Assistant Professor
École des sciences de l’information / School of Information Studies
University of Ottawa
Sustaining the Knowledge Commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/

MDPI APC / FDP 2011 – 2016

Tanoh Laurent Kakou and Heather Morrison

Brief abstract (English)

This post presents highlights of preliminary results of our longitudinal study of the article processing charges (APCs) of MDPI, an open access publisher using the APC business model (exclusively), with new journals offering « free for now »  publication. Thanks to Solomon and Björk (2012) we have data for a sample of 25 of MDPI’s journals that did charge APCs in 2011 (non-charging journals were excluded from their study). The APCs for these 25 journals ranged from 300 CHF to 1,600 CHF, with an average of 624 CHF. Only 1 journal (Algorithms) did not change in price ; all others increased in price from 2011 – 2016. The average APC for this group of journals in 2016 was 1,148 CHF, an average increase of 524 CHF or an 84% increase in 5 years. This compares with a compound U.S. interest rate from 2010 – 2015 of 8.7% as calculated by Sara Wheatley https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/04/13/comparison-of-biomed-central-apcs-from-2010-2016/. The EU compound interest rate would have been lower during this time frame, with some years in negative growth. One might say that MDPI’s APCs for established journals have increased by an order of magnitude greater than the overall inflation rate in the past 5 years.

As of March 2016, MDPI listed 155 journals on its website. Of these, nearly half (72 journals) are <>, that is they use the APC model but are not yet charging. The average APC of 359 CHF (662 CHF when non-charging journals are excluded) contrasts with the 1,148 average APC of the 25 journals that were included in the 2011 sample (established journals). From 2014 to 2015 APCs either stayed the same or decreased ; from 2015 to 2016, we see only stable or increasing prices with an average price increase from 2015 to 2016 of 18% (60 CHF increase on a 2015 average APC of 334 CHF).

This case study illustrates one approach to the evolution of a new commercial publisher committed to the APC business model, with new journals offering free publishing until journals are established. APC payers need to take this into account for budgeting purposes; journals that today either are free or have very low APCs may have substantial APCs in a few year’s time.

Following are the original abstract (in French) by data analyst Tanoh Laurence Kakou and a table with the APCs of the 25 journals for which we have APC data for 2011 and 2016.

Résumé (Français)

Nous analysons des données de MDPI APC de 2011 à 2016. Notre recherche consiste à comprendre comment les frais de publication de MDPI ont évolué dans cette période. Nous avons analysé d’abord les données de chaque période. D’abord 2011, 2014, 2015, puis 2016. Puis nous avons comparé l’évolution des frais de 2011 à 2016, de 2014 à 2015 et de 2015 à 2016.

Les données de 2011 sont des prélèvements d’un échantillon effectué en 2011 par Solomon et Björk (2012) sur uniquement 25 revues avec des frais de publication. Ainsi, la moyenne des frais est 624 CHF, la médiane est de 500 CHF et le mode est de 300 CHF. Sensors a les frais de publication les plus élevés (1,600 CHF). Tandis que Molbank détient les moins élevés (200 CHF). En 2016, on a obtenu une moyenne de 345 CHF, une médiane de 300 CHF et un mode de 0 CHF. Sensors, Marine Drugs et Molecules ont les frais (1,800 CHF) les plus élevés. En ce qui a trait à l’évolution des frais entre 2011 et 2016, on obtient une moyenne de 115%, d’une médiane de 75% et d’un mode de 167%. S’agissant de l’évolution du nombre du montant des frais, nous obtenons une moyenne de 523 CHF, d’une médiane de 500 CHF et d’un mode de 200 CHF. Seule les frais de Algorithms n’ont pas changé. Ils sont restés à 300 CHF soit une évolution de 0%. Tandis que Polymers augmente de 367% qui représentent une valeur ajoutée de 1100 CHF.

Concernant les données de 2014 de Morrison et al, (2015) elles ont été effectuées sur toutes les 124 revues au site web de MDPI. On obtient dans cet échantillon, une moyenne de 372 CHF, d’une médiane de 300 CHF et d’un mode 0 CHF. 3 revues : Sensors, Marine Drugs et Molecules détiennent les frais les plus élevés. En 2015, Morrison et al. (2016) ont étudié 141 revues. 70 revues n’avaient pas de frais de publication. Sensors, Marine Drugs et Molecules gardent les mêmes frais (1800 CHF). Par rapport à l’évolution des frais de publication de 2014 à 2015, deux tendances s’observent.

Au niveau de l’évolution des frais des 124 revues de 2014 à 2015, les frais de 84 revues n’ont pas changé. 40 revues ont baissé leurs frais.

En mars 2016, nous avons trouvé 155 revues au site web de MDPI. Presque la moitié (72 revues) sont <>. La moyenne FDP est 359 CHF (662 CHF si on exclut les revues sans frais) la médiane 300 CHF (500 CHF si on exclut les revues sans frais et le mode 0 (300 CHF si on exclut les revues sans frais).

Au niveau de l’évolution 2015 et 2016, la moyenne augmentation est 18%, (60 CHF), une médiane de 0 et un mode de 0.


L’analyse des données de MDPI APC de 2011 à 2016 montre que les frais de publication de cette période ont augmenté en moyenne 84%, allant jusqu’ à 367% pour la revue Polymers. Cependant entre 2014 et 2015, on a constaté une stabilité des frais et même une baisse de 100% de 6 revues : Sports, Systems, Technologies, Toxics, Universe, Veterinary Sciences. Entre 2015 et 2016, on a remarqué en augmentation en moyenne de 18% (60 CHF).

JOURNAL NAME APC 2011 (CHF) APC 2016 (CHF) Change 2016 – 2011
Algorithms 300 300 0
Cancers 300 800 500
Diversity 300 800 500
Energies 800 1,400 600
Entropy 1,000 1,400 400
Future Internet 300 500 200
Games 300 500 200
Genes 300 800 500
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 1,000 1,600 600
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 1,400 1,600 200
Marine Drugs 1,400 1,800 400
Materials 800 1,400 600
Molbank 200 300 100
Molecules 1,400 1,800 400
Nutrients 500 1,500 1,000
Pharmaceuticals 500 800 300
Pharmaceutics 300 500 200
Polymers 300 1,400 1,100
Remote Sensing 500 1,600 1,100
Sensors 1,600 1,800 200
Sustainability 500 1,200 700
Symmetry 300 800 500
Toxins 500 1,400 900
Viruses 500 1,500 1,000
Water 300 1,200 900
Average 624 1,148 524


Solomon, D.J. & Björk, B.-C. (2012) A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 2012, 63, pp. 1485–1495. Retrieved from http://www.openaccesspublishing.org/apc2/preprint.pdf February 2, 2016.