Ceased and transferred publications and archiving: best practices and room for improvement

In the process of gathering APC data this spring, I noticed some good and some problematic practices with respect to journals that have ceased or transferred publisher.

There is no reason to be concerned about OA journals that do not last forever. Some scholarly journals publish continuously for an extended period of time, decades or even centuries. Others publish for a while and then stop. This is normal. A journal that is published largely due to the work of one or two editors may cease to publish when the editor(s) retire. Research fields evolve; not every specialized journal is needed as a publication venue in perpetuity. Journals transfer from one publisher to another for a variety of reasons. Now that there are over 11,000 fully open access journals (as listed in DOAJ), and some open access journals and publishers have been publishing for years or even decades, it is not surprising that some open access journals have ceased to publish new material.

The purpose of this post is to highlight some good practices when journals cease, some situations to avoid, and room for improvement in current practice. In brief, my advice is that when you cease to publish a journal, it is a good practice to continue to list the journal on your website, continue to provide access to content (archived on your website or another such as CLOCKSS, a LOCKKS network, or other archiving services such as national libraries that may be available to you), and link the reader interested in the journal to where the content can be found.

This is an area where even the best practices to date leave some room for improvement. CLOCKSS archiving is a great example of state-of-the-art but CLOCKSS’ statements and practice indicate some common misunderstandings about copyright and Creative Commons licenses. In brief, author copyright and CC licenses and journal-level CC licensing are not compatible. Third parties such as CLOCKSS should not add CC licenses as these are waivers of copyright. CC licenses may be useful tools for archives, however archiving requires archives; the licenses on their own are not sufficient for this purpose.

I have presented some solutions and suggestions to move forward below, and peer review and further suggestions are welcome.

Details and examples

Dove Medical Press is a model of good practice in this respect. For example, if you click on the title link for Dove’s Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults a pop-up springs up with the following information:

“Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults ceased publishing in January 2017. All new submissions can be made to Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics. All articles that have been published in Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults will continue to be available on the Dove Press site, and will be securely archived with CLOCKSS”.

Because the content is still available via Dove’s website, the journal is not included on the CLOCKSS’ list of triggered content. This is because CLOCKKS releases archived content when it is no longer available from the publisher’s own website.

CLOCKSS Creative Commons licensing statement and practice critique

One critique for CLOCKSS: – from the home page:  “CLOCKSS is for the entire world’s benefit. Content no longer available from any publisher (“triggered content”) is available for free. CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever”.

This reflects some common misperceptions with respect to Creative Commons licenses. As stated on the Creative Commons “share your work” website:  [your emphasis added] “Use Creative Commons tools to help share your work. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give you permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice“.

The CLOCKSS statement  “CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever” is problematic for two reasons.

1. This does not actually reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. The Creative Commons statements associated with triggered content indicate publisher rather than CLOCKSS’ CC licenses. For example, the license statement for the Journal of Pharmacy Teaching on the CLOCKSS website states: “The JournalPharmacyTeaching content is copyright Taylor and Francis and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License”.

2. This would be even more problematic if it did reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. This is because CLOCKSS is not an author or publisher of the scholarly journals and articles included in CLOCKSS. Creative Commons provides a means for copyright owners to indicate willingness to share their work. When a third party such as CLOCKSS uses CC licenses, they are explicitly or implicitly claiming copyright it order to waive their rights under copyright. This reflects an expansion rather than limitation of copyright that may lead to the opposite of what is intended. For example, if one third party is a copyright owner that wishes to claim copyright in order to grant broad-based downstream rights, another third party could use the copyright claim to support their right to claim copyright in order to lock down others’ works. A third party that is a copyright owner providing free access today could use this copyright claim in future as a rationale for toll access. This could come into play if in future toll access seems more desirable from a business perspective.

The CLOCKSS practice of publisher-level copyright (see 1. above) is problematic because Creative Commons first release of CC licenses was in December 2002. Scholarly journal publishing predates 2002 (the first scholarly journals were published in 1665), and not every journal uses CC licenses even today. Retroactive journal-level CC licensing would require re-licensing of every article that was published prior to the journal’s first use of CC licensing.

For example, the copyright statements of volume 1 dated 1990 on the PDFs of the CLOCKSS-triggered Journal of Pharmacy Teaching read: “Journal of Pharmacy Teaching, Vol. l(1)1990 (C) 1990 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved”. This suggests that all authors in this journal at this point in time assigned full copyright to The Haworth Press, although actual practice was probably more complex. For example, if any authors were working for the U.S. federal government at the time, their work would have been public domain by U.S. government policy. Any portions of third party works included would likely have had separate copyright. Even assuming the simplest scenario, all authors had and transferred all rights under copyright to Haworth Press, the authors would retain moral rights, hence it would be necessary to contact all of the authors to obtain their permission to re-license the works under Creative Commons licenses.

The idea of journal-level CC licensing is at odds with the idea of author copyright. This confusion is common. For example, the website of the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association Licensing FAQ states: “one of the criteria for membership is that a publisher must use a liberal license that encourages the reuse and distribution of content” and later “Instead of transferring rights exclusively to publishers (the approach usually followed in subscription publishing), authors grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher to distribute the work, and all users and readers are granted rights to reuse the work”. If copyright and CC licenses really do belong to the authors, then journal-level Creative Commons license statements are incorrect.

Even more room for improvement

The above, while leaving some room for improvement, appears to reflect best practices at the present time. Other approaches leave even more room for improvement. For example, in 2016 Sage acquired open access publisher Libertas Academica. The titles that Sage has continued can now be found on the Sage website. The Libertas Academica titles that Sage no longer publishes can be found as trigged content on the CLOCKSS website. However, the original Libertas Academica website no longer exists and there is no indication of where to find these titles from the Sage website.

Titles that were formerly published by BioMedCentral are simply no longer listed on the BMC list of journals. For example, if you would like to know where to find Gigascience, formerly published by BMC, you can find information at the site of the current publisher, Oxford. A note on the SpringerLink page indicates that BMC maintains an archive of content on its website. However, if you look for Gigascience on the BMC journal list, it simply is not listed. It would be an improvement to follow the practice of Dove and include the title, link to the archived content, and provide a link to the current publisher.

Solutions? Some suggestions

If journals and publishers were encouraged to return copyright to the authors when a journal is no longer published, or a book is no longer being actively marketed (in addition to using their existing rights to archive and make works freely available), then authors, if they chose to do so, could release new versions of their works. For example, a work currently available in PDF could be re-released in XML to facilitate text and data-mining, or perhaps updated versions, and authors could, if desired, release new versions with more liberal licenses than journal-level licenses that must of necessity fit the lowest common denominator (the author least willing or able to share).

Education, among the existing open access community, and beyond is needed. First, we need to understand the perhaps unavoidable micro level nature of at least some elements of copyright under conditions of re-use of material. For example, if a CC-BY licensed image by one photographer or artist is included in a scholarly article written by a different person that is also CC-BY licensed, the moral rights, including attribution, are different for the copyright holder of the image and that of the author of the article. In academia, attribution and moral rights are essential to our careers.

The intersection of plagiarism and copyright is different in academia. If one musical composer copies another’s work, copyright law is likely the go-to remedy. If a student presents someone else’s work as their own, academic procedures for dealing with plagiarism will apply, regardless of the copyright status of the work. For example, the musician using a public domain work need not worry about copyright but the student using a public domain work without attribution is guilty of plagiarism and likely to face serious consequences. Evolving norms for other types of creators (amateur or professional photographers, video game developers) may not work for academia.

For CLOCKSS, a statement that all triggered content is made freely available to the public, and that additional rights may be available for some works, with advice to look at the work in question to understand re-use rights, would be an improvement.

Your comments and suggestions?

This is an area where even today’s best practices are wanting, and the solutions / suggestions listed above are intended as an invitation to open a conversation on potential emerging practices that may take some time to fully figure out. Peer review and suggestions are welcome, via the comments section or e-mail. If you are using e-mail, please let me know if I may transfer the content to this post and if so whether you would like to be attributed or not.

This post is cross-posted to my Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics scholarly blog and forms part of the Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series. Comments and suggestions are welcome on either blog.


MDPI pricing (thanks to MDPI CEO Franck Vazquez, PhD)

Thanks to MDPI CEO Franck Vazquez, PhD, for permission to re-post his contributions to a discussion on APC pricing on the SCHOLCOMM listserv and my replies. This is useful information and a good model of how transparency can help to advance our understanding of how to move toward sustainability in open access.

Highlights: this post presents data on MDPI’s APCs and an explanation of MDPI’s business practice: new journals are free to publish in, later APCs and APC increases are based on market value. It is important for publishers and funders to understand that there is an essential conflict with funders of scholarly communication, that is, universities and their libraries, and research organizations. For these organizations,  budgets tend to be based on cost with little or no flexibility to accommodate pricing and price increases based on market value. This incompatibility of organizational strategy is equally relevant whether the revenue model is subscriptions, APC, or other production-based support.

Original e-mails:

Sent to SCHOLCOMM April 16, 2018 (as an addition to the research reported on SKC here):

*Subject:* Re: [SCHOLCOMM] Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ)

Adding up the data summary for MDPI to the picture:

•164 journals with numeric data in 2017 (average APC 438CHF) and 2018
(average APC 533CHF)
•107 journals (65.2%) with no change in APC, including 40 journals free
(average APC 375CHF)
•40 journals (24.3%) with APC increase of 6% – 142% (increase range from
100 – 500CHF; average APC increase 219CHF; average percent increase 27.3%)
•17 journals (10.3%) free in 2017, introduced APC in 2018
(250CHF-550CHF; average APC 370CHF)

Original data can be found here:

Some Publishers and Journals statistics can also be found here:
Please read the “Disclaimer & Notes”.

Hoping this is useful,
Best wishes,

Franck Vazquez, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer, MDPI
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34


My reply April 16, 2018

Thank you Franck this is very helpful.

According to this website, the current inflation rate for Switzerland is .8, i.e. less than one per cent:

I see that a quarter of MDPI’s journals have an average price increase of 27.3%. It appears that MDPI is not making decisions about price increases based on such factors as consumer price increase or inflation rates.

List members who are interested in supporting OA through paying APCs could benefit from understanding how this works in order to budget for future needs. Can you explain MDPI’s current and/or projected future pricing strategy?

MDPI is one of the publishers who offers “free for now” publishing in order to attract content for new journals. As an author, I have benefited from this as well as from MDPI’s high quality professional editing and peer review. However, if those who pay APCs do not take this practice into account, they will find themselves short of funds in future when established journals start charging APCs, as 10% of MDPI’s journals did this year by your account

Two other notes / questions from MDPI for this year that I wonder if you would like to comment on?

* new pricing coming in July
* partnership with Knowledge Unlatched – on MDPI’s APC price list that
some journals are
“* free for authors; APC funded by Knowledge Unlatched
<http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org>” from: http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc


Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa

PS: if CHF is not your local currency, you can find both current and historical conversion rates through XE currency converter: https://www.xe.com/currencytables/

Franck’s reply April 17:

Thanks Heather, I am glad you had a good experience publishing in /Publications/ (and /Data/)!

Our decision to introduce or increase the APC of a journal depends on many factors including the field of research, the reputation (visibility,citation, indexing), and volume (=age) of the journal. It is not always possible to cover the cost of our work directly and from the beginning. The newest journals are free for a few years, typically three years; researchers would not be able to raise funding to cover the APC of these journals. Also, some journals which support research fields in which OA funding remains marginal do not introduce an APC, even after Volume 6 or more, as it is the case for the journals /Publications/, /Arts/, or a few others. Therefore the costs associated with publishing in these journals must be subsided by the APC of established journals.

The “average 27.3% APC increase for 40 journals” we talk about here results in a mild increase in the average APC of these journals. Average increase is 219 CHF, from 802 CHF in 2017 to 1020 CHF in 2018 for these 40 titles. This is on the lower end of APC distribution for international publishers: https://treemaps.intact-project.org/apcdata/openapc/#publisher/

Concerning the planned increase in July:
Eight journals which were accepted for coverage in SCIE in November will have their APC increased, following the reasoning explained before. As usual we give a >6 months notice to authors before the APC increase becomes effective.

About the partnership with Knowledge Unlatched:
We are running this as a trial for 9 journals which normally apply the indicated APC. We are exploring this funding model as a viable alternative for our HSS journals. For transparency reasons and to give credit to KU for their initiative, we decided to list the APC on the website with the note “* free for authors; APC funded by Knowledge Unlatched” rather than erasing the APC from the website.

Best wishes

My reply April 17:

Thank you Franck.

What you are describing is normal business practice. In ordinary everyday terms, businesses of all kinds often start out with below-cost pricing (introductory special offers for example), in order to attract customers, then raise prices. When average people sell their homes or other goods, the default is to seek market value (the most I can get for this), rather than cost-based pricing.

MDPI’s transparency may be helpful to those wishing to support the APC approach (publishers and payers), as it gives us an opening to talk about an inherent conflict that might cause shock and setbacks, giving an opportunity to prepare and consider strategies to minimize or avoid the likelihood of this happening.

The inherent conflict stems from the desire of for-profit publishers to derive the maximum value from their work, in contrast to the cost-conscious, accountability focused customer (universities and funding agencies). In subscriptions publishing for many decades there has been an inelastic market, with publishers expecting to raise prices beyond inflationary rates year after year while university-customers do not have corresponding revenue growth to support this. In North America in the last few decades the trend has been flat or declining budgets. Hence the serials crisis, periodic breakdown such as Germany’s Elsevier cancellations and France’s Springer cancellations, and strong desire to change the system which is one of the drivers behind the OA movement, although not a motive shared by all.

What could easily happen is that those who wish to support a flip to OA via APCs will under-budget based on current spend and/or current list prices, resulting in shock and insufficient funds when publishers move to pricing more accurately reflecting costs and/or market value.

Another way to express this: when your library has to deal with budget cuts, or, at best, a flat budget (typical in North America), you are not likely to have much sympathy for a publisher raising prices by 27%, regardless of how rational this might be as a business practice.

This is what I mean in that Publications article when I describe the APC model as volatile. The market, in my opinion, is not sufficiently stable for systemic budgeting purposes. Support for this approach should be considered experimental at this time.

There are other approaches to supply-side funding to provide for open access, such as sponsorships, library publishing, and cost-based APC pricing as practiced by UK-based Ubiquity Press. Those who wish to support APCs, in my opinion, are wise to do so through consortia. Hence my interest in your partnership with Knowledge Unmatched.


Heather Morrison

The original e-mails are available on the SCHOLCOMM listserv archives.

ELPUB 2018: Global OA APC trends 2010 – 2017

The final paper is now available in the HAL archive at: https://elpub.episciences.org/4604

This June 22 – 24 I will be attending and presenting at ELPUB 2018 on Global Open Access APCs 2010 – 2017: major trends. The slides for my talk on Saturday, June 23 are available here: https://www.slideshare.net/hgmorris/hgm-elpub2018


The open access (OA) article processing charges (APC) project is a longitudinal study of the minority of fully OA journals (27% in 2016) that have APCs. The global average APC shows little change; in USD, 906 in 2010, 964 in 2016, 974 in 2017. The average masks currency differences and the impact of a growing market; new APC journals often start with an APC of 0. Traditional commercial scholarly publishers are entering the OA market: the largest OA journal publishers’ portfolios in 2017 were Springer, De Gruyter, Elsevier, and Wolters Kluwer Medknow. However, these are a small portion of OA journal publishing which is still marked by a very long tail and extensive involvement by very small, often university or society publishers. APC pricing shows a wide range and variability. The APC market can be described as volatile.

Keywords: OA, APCs, economics


Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ)

Following is a summary of recent APC changes for 4 publishers, prepared on request but posted in case this might be of interest to anyone else. In brief, each publisher appears to be following a different pricing strategy ranging from flat pricing over many years with one rare exception, to a tenfold increase from 2016 – 2017.

BioMedCentral: mixed picture

• 269 journals with numeric data 2017 and 2018 (April 4 sampling date both years)
• 20 with price increases of 2% – 83% (30 – 620 GBP)
• 5 with price decreases of 1% – 15% (15 – 205 GBP)
• Of interest: 25 journals with no publication fee (appears to be society / university sponsorship)
• Of concern: 44 journals with “title not found”: some will reflect earlier title drop

Hindawi April 2016 – November 2017: mixed picture, price increases a bit concerning

• 281 journals with numeric data for 2016 and 2017 (including 0 = free for now*)
• 99 journals have price increases ranging from 14 – 108% (100% = price has doubled), increases of 250 – 650 USD
• 115 journals have no change in pricing
• 45 journals have price decreases of 6 – 25%, 50 – 100 USD
• Of interest: 230 Predecessor journals (ISRN series): good practice
• Of concern: 186 title not found (not limited to 2017), excluding predecessor

*Rotating free journals: 5 of the 281 journals were free in 2016; 1 is still free, the other 4 have APCs of 1250 – 1750 USD. 17 journals that had an APC in 2016 were free in 2017. Paul Peters sent an e-mail explaining this strategy a few years ago.

PLOS ONE: flat pricing with one exception
From 2014 – 2018, there has been only one price change for PLOS journals: PLOS ONE was $1,350 USD in 2014 and is $1,495 USD today. The sample date was December 2017, a visual scan confirms the same prices are in effect as of April 13, 2018.

PeerJ: tenfold price increase from 2016 – 2017 (99 USD – 1,095 USD); new journal PeerJ Computer Science is 895 USD.

See also yesterday’s post Frontiers: 40% of journals have price increases from 18 – 31%.

Frontiers: 40% journals have APC increases of 18 – 31% from 2017 to 2018

Of the 56 active titles listed on the Frontiers website as of April 11, 2018, 22 or close to 40% have increased pricing for type A articles by 18 – 31% from a year earlier. These high percentage increases come on top of already high prices. For example, Frontiers in Psychology has increased from $2,490 USD to $2,950 USD, an increase of $460 USD or 18%, while Frontiers in Pediatrics has increased from $1,900 USD to $2,490 USD, an increase of $590 or 31%. One journal, Frontiers in Digital Humanities, has decreased in price, the others have not changed and there is one new title. The following table shows titles, APC pricing copied from the Frontiers website April 11, 2017 and April 11, 2018, and the change in pricing in $ and percentage. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems is new.

Title 2018 APC Type A article Frontiers website in USD 2017 APC Type A article Frontiers website in USD 2018 – 2017 2018 – 2017 percentage change
Frontiers in Endocrinology 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Genetics 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Neurology 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Pediatrics 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Psychiatry 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Immunology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Microbiology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Neural Circuits 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Neuroinformatics 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Neurorobotics 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Pharmacology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Physiology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Plant Science 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Psychology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Digital Humanities 950 1,150 -200 -17%
Frontiers in Communication 950 950 0
Frontiers in Education 950 950 0
Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics 950 950 0
Frontiers in Sociology 950 950 0
Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Built Environment 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in ICT 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Nutrition 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Robotics and AI 1,150 1,150 0
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Chemistry 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Earth Science 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Energy Research 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Environmental Science 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Marine Science 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Materials 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Medicine 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Oncology 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Physics 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Public Health 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Surgery 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Veterinary Science 1,900 1,900 0
Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 2,490 2,490 0
Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 950


Taylor and Francis article publishing charge finder

This afternoon I am attempting to capture data for Taylor and Francis fully open access journals for the longitudinal open access article processing charges study. A year ago (February 7, 2017) we were able to screen scrape pricing details for all Taylor and Francis fully open access open select journals, in multiple currencies. Today, to find the price one has to go to the <<Taylor and Francis article publishing charge finder>>, where it is necessary to: “Select a journal, type of article, and country to find the open access article publishing charge (APC) list price. “. The types of article listed are Letter to the Editor, original article, or review article. Information on the country selection states: “This should be the country of residence of the person or organization who will pay the APC. Why can’t I find my country? This service is not available to residents of certain countries.” Based on a little bit of research, it appears that the pricing for different countries is given in different currencies. For example, pricing for Acta Biomaterialia Odontologica Scandinavica is 650 USD for authors from Denmark or Mexico but 500 GBP for authors from the United Kingdon.


This service may be intended to help authors and payers of APCs to quickly ascertain their own cost of publication, and if so seems a useful purpose. However, from the perspective of studying APC pricing, this complicates the process and makes pricing less transparent. For example, in order to know the pricing for all countries, it would be necessary to conduct a search by title, article type, and country, for every country listed. Payers may be less likely to query the price differential resulting from currency fluctuations. For example, as of today the GBP equivalent of 650 USD is 467 GBP, so UK payers of 500 GBP are paying a price that is in effect 7% higher. The impact of currency fluctuations is one of the drawbacks of internationalization of payment for scholarly publishing, whether through subscriptions or APCs. For stability, models that rely on local work and costs such as library / university hosting services or sponsorship of local journals are recommended.

DOAJ: this may help to illustrate one of the reasons why I do not recommend that we ask of DOAJ to list APC amounts. A specific APC for a Taylor & Francis fully open access journal will only be correct for a particular article type and in a specific group of countries. DOAJ’s primary purpose is as a directory, a vetted list of fully open access, peer-reviewed journals, that helps everyone to find open access journals and articles and point others to them. This is important to the health and growth of OA and in opinion it’s enough.

Your comments and clarifications are welcome. Please use the comment function.






DOAJ APC information as of Jan 31, 2018

DOAJ 2018 APCs: an overview

by Heather Morrison


The purposes of this small study are to determine the extent to which the longitudinal open access article processing charges (OA APC) project can rely on DOAJ APC data rather than individual journal lookup, to capture some highlights of DOAJ APC data as of January 31, 2018, and compare these with our 2014 survey of DOAJ journals charging APCs. Selected findings: 71% of the 11,001 journals listed in DOAJ do not charge APCs [emphasis added to avoid adding to conflation of OA with APC]. For most journals, a URL as to where this information can be found is provided, indicating that DOAJ staff have verified that there are no publication charges. 28% do charge APCs, and the remainder have no information on APCs. The average price converted to USD is nearly identical in 2014 and 2018, however the reader is advised to read the details and limitations, as this must be interpreted with caution. Of the 3,131 journals with APCs, 37 different currencies are listed. A few currencies dominate, particularly USD at nearly half of the journals. A breakdown of average prices and range of prices by currency are presented. The most remarkable finding is the range; on average the highest APC for a given currency is close to 4,000 times higher than the lowest APC. This tends to support our 2014 conclusion of a volatile APC market. In conclusion, DOAJ metadata is very useful for the OA APC study, and in particular can be considered a reliable source for journals with no publication charges.


On January 31, 2018 the DOAJ metadata set was downloaded from https://doaj.org/faq#metadata, saved in .csv format, opened in Open Office in Unicode to retain non-English characters, and saved as .ods and .xls. The excel file is used for data processing, and the other formats are retained as backups. APC amounts were converted to USD using the XE currency converter web service * as of January 31, 2018, the date of data collection.


As of January 31, 2018, the DOAJ metadata file included 11,001 journals. DOAJ now includes some ceased journals, for example the Hindawi ISRN series which has been collapsed into a single journal, a good practice because content in these journals is still valuable and should not be removed from the primary journal directory in the area of open access. However, there is no indication in the metadata regarding ceased journals; although the vast majority are still active, the actual number of active journals listed in DOAJ does not appear to be possible to discern.

Of the 11,001 journals, the response to the question: “Does the journal have article processing charges?” (Journal article processing charges is the column name in the metadata spreadsheet) is:

  Number of journals % of total (rounded)
No 7,766 71%
Yes 3,131 28%
No information 104 1%
Total 11,001 100%

Of the 7, 766 journals indicating “no” to the APC question, 7,438 have a URL listed in the column “APC information URL”. According to DOAJ Operations Manager Dominic Mitchell (2018), when a URL is listed in this column, it means that DOAJ staff have verified the information. This means that when DOAJ metadata says “no” to the APC question and an “APC information URL” is listed, one can be quite confident that the journal does not have an APC, at least not at the time of checking. That’s 68% of the total journals listed in DOAJ that have been vetted and found not to have publication charges. For the purposes of the longitudinal study, these journals will be identified as “no publication charge” for 2018. A random sampling of these journals might be advisable in the future to view whether APC charging status has changed.

In response to the question, “Does the journal have article submission charges?” there were 212 “yes” responses, a bit less than 2% of the journals listed in DOAJ. All journals with submission charges also have APCs listed. Submission charge data are noted for the purpose of completeness; they are not considered in the following results and discussion, as there is no indication in DOAJ as to whether submission charges are deducted from the APC if an article is accepted for publication.


Of the 3,131 journals listed as having an APC, a total of 37 currencies are listed. USD accounts for nearly half of the total. USD, GBP, and EUR together account for about 80% of the total. Chart 1 below illustrates the frequency of currencies representing over 1% of the total APC-charging journals.

Chart 1: APC charging journals in DOAJ January 2018 by currency
Table 1 below lists APC averages, range, and range ratio by currency. The range ratio is included to illustrate the wide spread of APCs within currencies. No range is provided by currencies with just one journal. The average range ratio is 3,781; in other words, on average the highest APC for a given currency is close to 4,000 times higher than the lowest APC. The range in USD is $1 – $5,000. In EUR, it’s 10 – 3,300.

DOAJ APC-charging journals as of January 31, 2018    
APC average, range and range ratio by currency      
Currency # journals APC average Range – low Range – high Range ratio high / low
ARS – Argentine Peso 6 2,504 26 5,000 192
AUD – Australian Dollar 6 460 120 2,000 17
BRL – Brazilian Real 57 540 12 3,000 250
CAD – Canadian Dollar 3 327 30 750 25
CHF – Swiss Franc 116 710 156 2,080 13
CNY – Yuan Renminbi 22 1,583 100 4,900 49
COP – Colombian Peso 2 90,000 30,000 150,000 5
CZK – Czech Koruna 1 8,000      
EGP – Egyptian Pound 4 1,288 750 2,000 3
EUR – Euro 465 581 10 3,300 330
GBP – Pound Sterling 467 1,272 100 3,150 32
IDR – Rupiah 219 568,842 50 5,000,000 100,000
INR – Indian Rupee 23 4,030 50 17,500 350
IQD – Iraqi Dinar 6 43,363 50 125,000 2,500
IRR – Iranian Rial 34 5,916,176 250 150,000 600
JPY – Yen 6 98,333 5,000 135,000 27
KRW – Won 8 221,500 42,000 300,000 7
KZT – Tenge 1 2,000      
MDL – Moldovan Leu 5 250 250 250 1
MXN – Mexican Peso 4 2,070 150 5,600 37
MYR – Malaysian Ringgit 1 250      
NGN – Naira 2 5,500 5,000 6,000 1
Currency # journals APC average Range – low Range – high Range ratio high / low
NOK – Norwegian Krone 5 9,800 4,000 14,000 4
PKR – Pakistan Rupee 3 1,667 1,000 3,000 3
PLN – Zloty 21 531 40 1,230 31
RON – New Romanian Leu 3 217 150 300 2
RSD – Serbian Dinar 1 15,000      
RUB – Russian Ruble 16 6,359 300 19,000 63
SAR – Saudi Riyal 1 1,093      
THB – Baht 1 243 120 450 4
TRY – Turkish Lira 4 2,500      
TWD – New Taiwan Dollar 3  2,333 1,000 3,000 3
UAH – Hryvnia 33 542 40 2,000 50
USD – US Dollar 1,539 1,035 1 5,000 5,000
VEF – Bolivar 1 7,500      
XAF – CFA Franc BEAC 1 100,000      
ZAR – Rand 41 4,776 200 10,550 53
Total (journals); average (range ratio) 3,131       3,781

Table 1. APC average, range and range ratio by currency

Average APC in USD

The average APC in USD was $937; the median (mid-point) and mode (most common APC) were both $600.

In comparison with our 2014 survey of journals listed in DOAJ with APCs (Morrison et al, 2015):

  • the percentage of journals listed in DOAJ that charge APCs is nearly identical (26% in 2014, 28% in 2018)
  • the average (mean) APC in USD is nearly identical $964 in 2014 versus $937 in 2018 (see limitations)
  • the mode (most common) APC was reported as $0 in 2014 and is $600 USD in 2018 (see limitations)

The wide range of APC within most currencies lends support to the conclusion of our 2014 APC survey (Morrison et al, 2015) that the APC market at the current time is volatile. This makes prediction of future trends, necessary for budgeting purposes for those support this model, difficult.


2014 data is drawn from publisher websites rather than DOAJ. The finding of a mode of $0 in 2014 was based on inclusion of APC-based publishers who are planning to charge APCs, but had not yet begun to do so. In 2018, it is not clear how or if this model would be captured by DOAJ metadata. For this reason, the significance of the difference in mode and the near identical APC amounts in USD should be interpreted with caution.

DOAJ metadata on APCs reflects a necessary simplification of complex data. DOAJ has 2 fields for publication costs, APC and submission fees, and one currency listing. However there are a wide variety of publication fee models in use, including per-page rather than per-article costs. Many journals still publish in print and have print-based publication costs such as extra charges for images and/or colour. Multiple prices including pricing in different currencies is common, as is different pricing based on such factors as type or length of article, discounts for developing countries, for society or institutional members; the wide variety of models was covered in some detail in Morrison et al. (2015). It is not clear how often DOAJ metadata on APC amounts is updated, and there could be differences between journals and publishers with respect to the frequency of updates. For this reason collecting data from journal and publisher websites will continue to be necessary for the OA APC project.

* in previous years Bank of Canada rates were used, however currently currency conversion options for previous years seem to be limited.


Mitchell, D. (2018). Personal e-mail. February 2, 2018

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

Biographical information and acknowledgements

Heather Morrison is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Studies http://arts.uottawa.ca/sis/ and Principal Investigator of the Sustaining the Knowledge Commons (SKC) sustainingknowledgecommons.org research program sponsored by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) via an Insight Grant (2016 – 2021). Heather is an open access advocate, and the purpose of the SKC project is to facilitate the economics of transition of scholarly publishing to support a sustainable global open access knowledge commons. Thanks to the SKC and DOAJ teams who do most of the work that makes this research possible.

To download a PDF version:

DOAJ 2018 overview blogpost