OA APC longitudinal survey 2019
This post presents results of the 2019 OA APC longitudinal survey and extends an invitation to participate in an open peer review process of the underlying data and its documentation. One thing that is not changing is that most OA journals in DOAJ do not charge APCs: 10,210 (73%) of the 14,007 journals in DOAJ as of Nov. 26, 2019 do not have APCs. The global average APC in 2019 is 908 USD. This figure has changed little since 2010, however this consistency masks considerably underlying variation. For example, the average APC in 2019 for the 2010 sample has increased by 50%, a rate three times the inflation rate for this time frame. The tendency to charge or not to charge, how much is charged and whether prices are increasing or decreasing varies considerably by journal, publisher, country of publication, language and currency. One surprise this year was the top 10 countries by number of OA journals in DOAJ. As usual, Europe, the US and Latin America are well represented, but Indonesia is now the second largest country in DOAJ and Poland, Iran, and Turkey are among the top 10, perhaps reflecting the work of the DOAJ ambassadors. Pricing per journal shows mixed trends; most journals did not change price between 2018 and 2019, but there were price decreases as well as increases. The UK’s Ubiquity Press stands out as having a relatively low APC (a fraction of Oxford’s, another UK-based publisher) and no price increases.
Documentation, link to dataset and open peer review invitation
The Sustaining the Knowledge Commons team has been gathering data on OA APCs since 2014 and merging data from DOAJ and other researchers into the main dataset. Singh & Morrison (2019) note that the majority of fully OA journals do not charge; of those that do, the global average APC is 908 USD, a figure that has changed very little since 2010. In contrast, the mode (most common APC) shows quite a bit of variation and the maximum has been increasing for both APC and APPC (article page processing charge). This suggests that there is something else going on.
Shi & Morrison’s (2019) findings illustrate that charging trends can vary considerable by publisher. 4 pairs of publishers and sub-publishers are compared. Two Wolters Kluwer imprints, Medknow and Lippincott, are quite different in APCs. Medknow journals tend not to charge, and those that have APCs tend to have relatively low APCs. Lippincott journals tend to charge, at above-average rates. Two universities, Indonesia’s Universitas Negeri Semerang (UNS) (now one of the largest publishers in DOAJ) and Oxford are compared. Oxford is one of the world’s oldest publishers, is UK based, and tends to charge APCs at above-average rates. UNS appears to be a newcomer to online publishing, uses the open source Open Journal System; UNS journals tend not to charge, and when they do charge, prices are relatively low. Oxford was also compared with another UK-based publisher, Ubiquity Press. Ubiquity Press is a new not-for-profit designed to produce OA works and also to achieve cost efficiency. It appears that Ubiquity is having success with the latter, as their average APC is a fraction of that of Oxford. MDPI and Hindawi are compared; both are new commercial APC-based publishers, but the average APC is much higher for Hindawi than for MDPI. This evidence supports the hypothesis that the global average APC masks considerable variation based on publisher history and strategy.
Avasthi & Morrison (2019) explore one of these publishers, Medknow, in more depth, and ask whether this approach is the best for India, the original home of the publisher before acquisition by Wolters Kluwer. It appears that the reason most Medknow journals do not have publication charges is because of numerous partnerships between Wolters Kluwer and scholarly societies and universities. Medknow has expanded beyond India, and has grown quite a bit in both 2018 and 2019. The number of “title not found” and a couple of “risky URL” (a code for when the URL on the publisher’s website leads to a website that is clearly not a journal and gives the appearance of a possible scam) raises some questions about whether the quality of service these journals receive are what they expect and deserve through a partnership with one of the world’s oldest EU-based commercial scholarly publishers.
Pashaei & Morrison (2019a) compare APCs by original currency. Over half of APC charging journals have USD as original currency, and 5 currencies account for more than 90% of APCs. Average prices by currency are translated into USD, and these prices vary quite a bit. APCs in GBP and more than twice as high as APCs in EUR.
Pashaei & Morrison (2019b) compare APCs (pricing and tendency to charge) by language. The tendency to charge varies quite a bit by language (first language listed in DOAJ). For example, 98% of journals in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Czech do not have publication fees, while about a third of journals in English or Persian have APCs. The average APC for English-language journals is more than 3 times the second highest language-basis APC (Catalan).
Pashaei & Morrison (2019c) studied the correlation of country in DOAJ, OA journal publishing, and APC. As expected, Europe, the US, and Latin America are well represented in DOAJ. There were some surprises. Indonesia is now the second largest country in DOAJ, and Poland, Iran, and Turkey, are among the top 10. This may reflect the work of the DOAJ ambassadors’ program. Tendency to charge and average APC both vary quite a bit depending on the publisher in question.
Morrison (2019a) studied charging trends for journals with APC amounts for both 2018 and 2019 and found considerable variation. Most of these journals did not change in APC, but many decreased prices and many more increased prices. The tendency to increase prices was more marked for journals listed in DOAJ as of Jan. 31, 2019. An analysis of trends and average APCs for publisher with 2 or more journals in this set revealed very different patterns. A few publishers did not increase prices. Ubiquity Press stands out as having a relatively low price and no price increase. For some publishers, tendency to decrease and increase prices cancel each other out. 6 publishers had average price increases of more than 10%: Wolters Kluwer Medknow, MDPI, Oxford, Elsevier, BioMedCentral, and Frontiers.
Morrison (2019b) studied status and charging trends for journals included in Solomon & Björk’s (2012) 2010 study, limited to a sample of journals listed in DOAJ and charging APCs at that time. The majority of these journals are still active and charging. The average APC has increased in this time frame by 50%, more than 3 times the inflation. Not all journals have increased in price; some decreased and others remained the same price. Nearly a quarter of these journals have ceased or are not found. Most of this attrition appears to be due to new OA APC-based commercial publishers with a start-up strategy of publishing a wide range of journals, then retiring unsuccessful journals.
Kakou (2019) analyzes African based Sabinet using an approach inspired by The Charleston Advisor’s review series. Brief highlights: Sabinet’s mission is to promote access to information on African research. In this sense, the platform fills its objectives perfectly. It disseminates 500 journals of which 164 are open access, 336 subscription-based with pay-per-view. Most of the journals are from South Africa. Sabinet offers a number of services, including library management services.
Full documentation, link to open dataset, and invitation to participate in open peer review
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/
Dataset: Morrison, Heather, et al. 2019, “OA APC longitudinal study dataset 2019”, https://doi.org/10.5683/SP2/0DIPGE, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1
Cite as: Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA APC longitudinal survey 2019. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/27/oa-apc-longitudinal-survey-2019/
Avasthi, N & Morrison, H (2019). Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India? Sustaining the Knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/23/medknow-2019-is-this-the-best-for-india/
Kakou, T.L. (2019). Sabinet – Comprendre le fonctionnement de l’industrie de l’information en Afrique. Soutenir les savoirs communs. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/27/sabinet-comprendre-le-fonctionnement-de-lindustrie-de-linformation-en-afrique/
Morrison, H. (2019a). APC price changes 2019 – 2018 by journal and by publisher. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/apc-price-changes-2019-2018-by-journal-and-by-publisher/
Morrison, H. (2019b). 2010 – 2019 APC update. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/2010-2019-apc-update/
Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019a). Open Access in 2019: Original currencies for article processing charge. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/open-access-in-2019-original-currencies-for-article-processing-charge/
Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019b). DOAJ 2019: Language analysis. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/doaj-2019-language-analysis/
Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019c). Open Access in 2019: Which countries are the biggest publishers of OA journals? Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/open-access-in-2019-which-countries-are-the-biggest-publishers-of-oa-journals/
Shi, A & Morrison, H. (2019). APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019. Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/apcs-comparisons-among-different-publishers-in-2019/
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/
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