Open peer review discussion

Thank you to Heather Staines from MIT’s Knowledge Futures Group for initiating this discussion in response to an invitation to participate in an open peer review process of the OA Main 2019 dataset and its documentation on the SCHOLCOMM list (the invitation was also sent to GOAL and the Radical Open Access List) and for permission to post her e-mails on Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

Original e-mail (Heather Morrison to SCHOLCOMM, Jan. 7, 2020):


** January 15 suggested deadline **

This is a reminder that open peer review is being sought for the Sustaining the Knowledge Common’s project OA main 2019 dataset and its documentation. For those who may not have time for a thorough peer review, a set of 6 questions is provided and responses to any of the questions would be welcome. This is an opportunity to participate in an experimental approach to two innovations in scholarly communication: a particular approach to open peer review, and peer review of a dataset and its documentation. The latter is considered important to encourage and reward researchers for data sharing.

Although full open peer review is the default, if anyone would like to remain anonymous this should be reasonably easy to accommodate by having a friend or colleague forward your comments with an indication of their anonymity.

January 15 is the deadline but if anyone interested would like to participate and needs more time, just let me know. Thank you to those who have already provided comments.

Details and materials can be found here:


Dr. Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa
Principal Investigator, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons, a SSHRC Insight Project
Heather.Morrison at
[On research sabbatical July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020]

Heather Staines, first response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Hi Heather:

I took a look at your open peer review survey. Very interesting!

I did a blog post during peer review week on collaborative community review. I thought you might find it interesting:

[image omitted]

Collaborative Community Review on PubPub · The Knowledge Futures Commonplace

I interviewed the authors of three MIT Press books (coming 2020) who used open peer review on our open source platform, PubPub. If this would ever be helpful for you in pursuing future surveys or experiences, please do let me know.


Heather [Staines]
MIT Knowledge Futures Group

Heather Morrison response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Thank you, your blog post is very interesting.

I see tremendous potential for online collaborative writing and annotations. For example, last year I had students write crowdsourced online essays in class; students were asked to find one interesting recent article on privacy, prepare notes, and write a collaborative “current issues in privacy” in class. I have participated in online annotation peer review in the past.

However, I have some concerns about the annotation and collaborative writing approaches to peer review. My reasons, in case this is of interest:

An annotation approach, in my experience, invites and encourages wordsmithing and focus on minor issues and makes it difficult to contribute at a deeper level (e.g. issues of substance, critique of fundamental underlying ideas).

Depending on the project, individual, and group, the optimal approach might be collaborative writing or individual voice. In the area of open access and scholarly communication, I have a unique perspective and consider this my most important contribution. This gets lost in collaborative writing. For this reason, I write as an individual (or co-author as supervisor with students) in this area.

Although in the past I have participated in the online annotation approach to open peer review, I have been disappointed because my comments (well-thought-out comments by an expert in the field) have been ignored, not only dismissed but not even acknowledged in the final version. This is a waste of my time, and I argue that it is not appropriate to present a final version under such circumstances as having passed a peer review process. Also, in recent years I have noticed a tendency to require reviewers to agree to open licensing conditions that I have object to; this for me is sufficient reason not to participate. [A brief explanation of several key lines of argument on this topic can be found here].

One of my reasons and incentives for open peer review is to claim credit for this work; for example, this published peer review is an example of what I would like to gain from open peer review:
[Morrison, H. (2019). Peer review of Pubfair framework. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from]

This is not for everyone, and I would not want to do this with every review, but occasional publication of such reviews opens up possibilities for study of the peer review process and allows me to appropriately claim my careful work in this area.

In the process of transforming scholarly communication I see fundamental questions about why we approach things the way we do, and how we might do things better, that I would like to see opened up for discussion. My blogpost / open invitation approach is deliberate; I consider development of platforms / checklist approaches as premature. This is developing technical solutions when, to me, we should be figuring out what the problems are.

This discussion should be part of the open peer review process. I am thinking of posting this response to my blog. May I post your e-mail as well?


Dr. Heather Morrison

Heather Staines, second response, Jan. 8, 2020:

Hi again:

Thank you for the quick and thoughtful response. Given some of your perspectives, you may also be interested in this companion piece, also from Peer Review Week, Making Peer Review More Transparent

I agree with you that there are challenges around an annotation-based approach. Prior to my role here at KFG, I was Head of Partnerships at Hypothesis (so I’m all about the annotation!). I continue to watch the evolution of annotation in the peer review space. Have you seen the Transparent Review in Preprints project:

I’m fine with your posting my previous (and current) emails, along with your responses. I hope we might cross paths sometime to discuss it further.


Heather [Staines]

[square brackets indicates minor changes from original e-mails]

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2020). Open peer review discussion. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from
OR, if referring specifically to the contributions of Staines:
Staines, H. (2020). As cited in Morrison, H. (2020). Open peer review discussion. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from

Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2019

2019 was another great year for open access! Of the 57 macro-level global OA indicators included in The Dramatic Growth of Open Access, 50 (88%) have growth rates that are higher than the long-term trend of background growth of scholarly journals an d articles of 3 – 3.5% (Price, 1963; Mabe & Amin, 2001). More than half had growth rates of 10% or more, approximately triple the background growth rate, and 13 (nearly a quarter) had growth rates of over 20%.

Newer services have an advantage when growth rates are measured by percentage, and this is reflected in the over 20% 2019 growth category. The number of books in the Directory of Open Access Books tops the growth chart by nearly doubling (98% growth); bioRxiv follows with 74% growth. A few services showed remarkable growth on top of already substantial numbers. As usual, Internet Archive stands out with a 68% increase in audio recordings, a 58% increase incollections, and a 48% increase in software. The number of articles searchable through DOAJ grew by over 900,000 in 2019 (25% growth). OpenDOAR is taking off in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and overall, with more than 20% growth in each of these categories, and SCOAP3 also grew by more than 20%.

The only area indicating some cause for concern is PubMedCentral. Although overall growth of free full-text from PubMed is robust. A keyword search for “cancer” yields about 7% – 10% more free full-text than a year ago. However, there was a slight decrease in the number of journals contributing to PMC with “all articles open access”, a drop of 138 journals or a 9% decrease. I have double-checked and the 2018 and 2019 PMC journal lists have been posted in the dataverse in case anyone else would like to check (method: sort the “deposit status” column and delete all Predecessor and No New Content journals, then sort the “Open Access” column and count the number of journals that say “All”. The number of journals submitting NIH portfolio articles only grew by only 1. Could this be backtracking on the part of publishers or perhaps technical work underway at NIH?

Full data is available in excel and csv format from: Morrison, Heather, 2020, “Dramatic Growth of Open Access Dec. 31, 2019”,, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1


Price, D. J. de S. (1963). Little science, big science. New York: Columbia University Press.

Mabe, M., & Amin, M. (2001). Growth dynamics of scholarly and scientific journals. Scientometrics, 51(1), 147–162.

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series. It is cross-posted from The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (n.d.). Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2019. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics. Retrieved from Cross-posted to Sustaining the Knowledge Commons

OA APC longitudinal survey 2019

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.

Dataset: Morrison, Heather, et al. 2019, “OA APC longitudinal study dataset 2019”,, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1

Cite as: Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA APC longitudinal survey 2019. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.


Avasthi, N & Morrison, H (2019). Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India? Sustaining the Knowledge commons.

Kakou, T.L. (2019). Sabinet – Comprendre le fonctionnement de l’industrie de l’information en Afrique. Soutenir les savoirs communs.

Morrison, H. (2019a). APC price changes 2019 – 2018 by journal and by publisher. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Morrison, H. (2019b). 2010 – 2019 APC update. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019a). Open Access in 2019: Original currencies for article processing charge. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019b). DOAJ 2019: Language analysis. Sustaining the knowledge commons

Pashaei, H. & Morrison, H. (2019c). Open Access in 2019: Which countries are the biggest publishers of OA journals? Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Shi, A & Morrison, H. (2019). APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019. Sustaining the knowledge

Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

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


2010 – 2019 APC update

by Heather Morrison


This is an update of the 2010 study of Solomon & Björk (2012) of a sample of 1,046 journals charging APCs listed in DOAJ at that time. 74% of these journals are still active and actively charging publication fees. The average APC reported by Solomon & Björk was 906 USD; the average in 2019 for the 739 journals for which we have APC data for both years is 1,363 USD. This represents a 50% price increase during this time frame, an increase that is 3 times the inflation rate. Not all journals increased in price; some decreased or remained the same price. Nearly a quarter of the journals (23%) are ceased or not found. Most of this attrition rate can be attributed to new OA APC-based commercial publishers with a start-up strategy involving roll-out of a broad range of journals, with unsuccessful journals being retired.

Download PDF:  2010 update

Research question: what is the status, charging tendency (to charge or not to charge) and pricing trends of these journals?


A subset of the OA Main 2019 Dataset (Morrison et al., 2019) containing Solomon & Björk’s 2010 data was used as the basis for this study. This sample was compared with the 2010 data and journals missing from OA Main (due to having been dropped from DOAJ prior to our study) were added to complete the sample. The current status of journals was developed using a pivot table. Pricing trends for 739 journals (tendency to increase or decrease in price) that are still charging APCs was calculated separately for journals with matching original currency (to avoid conflation with currency fluctuations) and non-matching currency in USD. An attempt was made to estimate APC for the 31 journals currently charging APPC but abandoned as the results did not match the APC trends and there is not enough detail in the 2012 study to be certain that the method of estimating APC was correct.



As illustrated in the following table and chart, the majority (779 or 74%) of the 2010 journals are still active and actively charging publication fees. 242 (23%) titles are ceased or not found. 25 (2%) have a status of other. Of these, 8 journals are now non-charging (no publication fee), for 11 journals it was not possible to determine whether or not there is a charge (no cost found), 2 journals are now hybrid, 3 are inactive, and one has been merged with another journal.

2010 journals by 2019 status
Actively charging 779 74%
Ceased or not found 242 23%
Other 25 2%
Grand Total 1,046

Active APC journals: trends analysis

The average APC reported by Solomon & Björk (2012) for 2010 was 906 USD. 779 of these journals are still active and charging publication fees; of these, 739 are still charging APCs and we were able to identify the amount. The average APC for these 739 journals in 2019 is 1,363 USD. This represents a 50% increase in the average APC for this group of journals. According to the Bank of Canada (n.d.) currency calculator, the cumulative inflation rate from 2010 – 2019 is 16.35% An average increase of 50% is more than 3 times the inflation rate.

Pricing direction trend

Not all journals increased in price. As the following table illustrates, 75% of journals increased in price, 18% decreased in price and 8% had no change in price. Where possible, original currency was used to avoid conflation with currency fluctuations.

Pricing trends by number of journals Matching currency Non-matching currency Total % of total
Journals decreasing in price 56 75 131 18%
No change in price 57 0 57 8%
Price increase 393 158 551 75%
Total l# of journals 506 233 739

Ceased / title not found analysis

Ceased journals

Based on knowledge of the history of pioneering APC OA based publishers, a publisher type analysis was conducted of the 210 ceased journals. 199 or 95% of these journals were developed by such publishers that pursued a strategy of starting out their business with a broad range of journals, then dropping journals that were not successful. 7 or 3% of these journals were started by publishers that have been acquired by other publishers that did not continue all of the others. No pattern was discerned for 4 (2%) of the journals.

2010 journals ceased as of 2019 – publisher type analysis
Publishers with broad range of journals start-up strategy
Bentham open 143
BioMed Central 12
Dove Medical Press 10
Frontiers Media S.A. 3
Hindawi Limited 31
Total broad range strategy 199 95%
Publishers that were acquired by other publishers
Co-Action Publishing 1
Libertas Academica 6
Total publishers acquired by other publishers 7 3%
Academic and Business Research Institute 2
SAGE Publishing 1
SpringerOpen 1
Total other 4 2%
Total ceased journals 210

Title not found

A similar analysis was conducted on the 32 “title not found” journals. There was some overlap in the results; Bentham Open, one of the publishers with a broad range of journals start-up strategy, accounts for half of the total, with BioMedCentral accounting for 3 of the titles.


Bank of Canada (n.d.) Currency calculator.

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

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

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2019). 2010 – 2019 APC update. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.

APC price changes 2019 – 2018 by journal and by publisher

by Heather Morrison


Pricing trends for 2018 – 2019 were compared on a per-journal and per-publisher basis. In contrast to the relatively unchanging global average APC, per-journal and per-publisher shows a mixture of trends. Most journals did not change in price from 2018 to 2019; 13% increased in price, 25% decreased. Journals included in DOAJ showed a greater tendency to increase in price (37%). Average price changes per publisher ranged from 0 (no change) to a 34% average increase in price. In some cases, price increases and decreases cancel each other out resulting in an average of 0 (no change) masking considerable change at the per-journal level. Only 2 publishers have APPCs; these have similar average prices. Average APC price by publisher ranges from 246 to 2,851 USD. UK-based not-for-profit publisher Ubiquity Press stands out as having the second-lowest average APC of 536 USD with no price increases.


As reported by Singh & Morrison (2019), the global average APC has shown little change between 2010 and 2019, but variation in the mode and a constant increase in maximum APC and APPC, along with case studies by the SKC team, suggests that this does not give the whole picture of what is happening. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether change in APC or APPC is more obvious at the per-journal or per-publisher level.

Research question

Are there observable changes in APC or APPC at the per-journal or per-publisher level from 2018 – 2019?


The data for this study is from the 2019 iteration of the APC longitudinal study; for documentation of the main study, a link to the dataset, and an invitation to open peer review, see Morrison et al. (2019). As reported by Singh & Morrison (2019), the majority of journals do not charge publication fees. Journals from the main spreadsheet were selected for which an APC or APPC amount is available for both 2018 and 2019. This resulted in a sample of 2,471 journals. Currencies were matched and original currency used for calculations wherever the same currency was listed in both years (2,255 APC journals). The reason for matching currency is to avoid conflation of currency fluctuations and pricing changes. For the remaining journals, APC in USD equivalent was done, using June 30, 2019 XE Currency Converter rates. The 2018 price was deducted from the 2019 price and the difference was divided into the 2018 price to determine the percentage of change.

A second sub-selection was drawn from this sample, limiting to journals that were listed in DOAJ on January 31, 2019, resulting in a sample of 1,514 journals. Of these, 1,394 match in currency in 2018 and 2019. Calculation of the numeric and percentage difference in price from 2018 to 2019 was calculated as described above. This eliminates journals by publishers that are no longer listed in DOAJ, newer journals that are not yet listed in DOAJ and other journals that are listed due to not meeting one of the DOAJ criteria, such as minimum number of articles published per year.

Per-publisher analysis was conducted using the second (DOAJ journals only) sample. For each publisher with more than one journal in the sample, the average APC or APPC was calculated as well as the average, minimum and maximum percentage change.


Journals with APC or APPC data in both 2018 and 2019

As illustrated in the table and chart below, pricing trends on a per-journal basis varied. The majority of journals (62%) did not change in price; 13% decreased in price and 25% increased in price.

2018 – 2019 APC or APPC price changes
# journals % journals
Price decrease 317 13%
No change in price 1,528 62%
Price increase 626 25%
Grand Total 2,471

Journals in DOAJ 2019 with APC or APPC data in both 2018 and 2019

The following table and chart illustrate a somewhat different trend when limiting to journals included in DOAJ. The percentage of journals with price decreases is the same at 13%, but the percentage of journals with price increases in higher at 37%. Half the journals (50%) did not change in price.

2018 – 2019 APC or APPC price changes, DOAJ journals only
# journals % journals
Price decrease 191 13%
No change 758 50%
Price increase 565 37%
Grand Total 1,514

Price change 2018 – 2019 by publisher

The following illustrates that pricing changes from 2018 – 2019 varied by publisher. 6 publishers had no price changes from 2018 – 2019. 16 publishers did have price changes from 2018 – 2019. For the publishers with price changes, there were differences in the pattern of change. Nature and Sage’s price increases and price decreases cancel each other out for an average of no change in price. A few publishers either kept prices the same or increased them, however most publishers have a mixture of price increases and decreases. In interpreting the pricing trends, it is important to consider the average price. A publisher with no price increases may have a higher average APC than a publisher with price increases. The average prices will be highlighting in the next table.


Publisher Average APC 2019 * Currency APC or APPC in USD ****  Average price change % 2018 – 2019 Min. price change 2018 – 2019 *** Max. price change 2018 – 2019
Publishers with no price changes 2018 – 2019
APC Average APC 2019 *
American Geophysical Union (AGU) 1,800 USD 1,800 0%
De Gruyter 1,045 EUR 1,188 0%
Karger Publishers 2,783 CHF 2,851 0%
Public Library of Science (PLoS) 2,428 USD 2,428 0%
Ubiquity Press** 536 USD 536 0%
APPC (per-age not per-article) Average APPC 2019 *
Copernicus Publications (APPC) per-page not per-article 64 EUR 73 0%
Publishers with price changes 2018 – 2019
APC Average APC 2019 *
BioMed Central 1,533 GBP 1,947 10% -42% 123%
Dove Medical Press 1,983 USD 1,983 1% 0% 18%
Elsevier ** 1,633 USD 1,633 13% -50% 567%
Frontiers Media S.A. 2,297 USD 2,297 10% 0% 100%
Hindawi Limited 1,161 USD 1,161 6% -24% 95%
MDPI AG 848 CHF 869 23% 0% 227%
Nature Publishing Group 2,031 GBP 2,579 0% -21% 28%
Oxford University Press ** 1,572 USD 1,572 22% -51% 61%
PAGEPress Publications 473 EUR 538 1% 0% 20%
SAGE Publishing ** 1,429 USD 1,429 0% -59% 67%
SpringerOpen 1,205 EUR 1,370 8% -37% 109%
Taylor & Francis Group ** 693 USD 693 6% -56% 500%
Wiley 2,331 USD 2,331 3% -27% 100%
Wolters Kluwer 2,433 USD 2,433 1% 0% 6%
Wolters Kluwer Medknow Publications ** 246 USD 246 34% -57% 602%
APPC (per-page not per-article)
AOSIS (APPC) per-page not per-article 1,196 ZAR 85 5% 0% 19%
* Average prices of journals listed in DOAJ in Jan 2019 and for which APC data is available for both 2018 and 2019.
** Prices converted to USD June 30, 2019 as APCs listed in different currencies.
*** Negative numbers reflect price decreases
**** Based on June 30, 2019 currency conversion rate, XE currency

The following table shows the average APC in USD by publisher in ascending order (starting with the lowest price), along with average, minimum and maximum price changes from 2018 – 2019 by percentage.

Publisher 2019 Average APC or APPC in USD Average price change 2018 – 2019 % Min. price change 2018 – 2019 *** Max. price change 2018 – 2019
Wolters Kluwer Medknow Publications ** 246 34% -57% 602%
Ubiquity Press** 536 0%
PAGEPress Publications 538 1% 0% 20%
Taylor & Francis Group ** 693 6% -56% 500%
MDPI AG 869 23% 0% 227%
Hindawi Limited 1,161 6% -24% 95%
De Gruyter 1,188 0%
SpringerOpen 1,370 8% -37% 109%
SAGE Publishing ** 1,429 0% -59% 67%
Oxford University Press ** 1,572 22% -51% 61%
Elsevier ** 1,633 13% -50% 567%
American Geophysical Union (AGU) 1,800 0%
BioMed Central 1,947 10% -42% 123%
Dove Medical Press 1,983 1% 0% 18%
Frontiers Media S.A. 2,297 10% 0% 100%
Wiley 2,331 3% -27% 100%
Public Library of Science (PLoS) 2,428 0%
Wolters Kluwer 2,433 1% 0% 6%
Nature Publishing Group 2,579 0% -21% 28%
Karger Publishers 2,851 0%
APPC (per-age not per-article)
Copernicus Publications (APPC) per-page not per-article 73 0%
AOSIS (APPC) per-page not per-article 85 5% 0% 19%

Discussion and conclusions

The data clearly demonstrate that the volume and direction of pricing changes varies by journal and by publisher. From 2018 to 2019, most journals did not change in price, some decreased in price, and others increased in price. Different APC based publishers display different tendencies and a wide range of average APCs, from 246 to 2,851 USD. The two APPC based publishers had similar pricing. The lowest average APC of 246 USD was for Wolters Kluwer Medknow. As noted by Avashti & Morrison (2019), most Medknow journals do not charge APCs; the average APC is likely impacted by the area served, as Medknow originated in India. It is not surprising that the 3 highest average APCs are associated with European based publishers (Wolters Kluwer, Nature, and Karger). However, the low average APC of UK based Ubiquity Publishing at 536 USD, combined with no price increases, is in marked contrast with Oxford University Press’ average APC of 1,572 USD and average price increase of 22%. This evidence of differences in APC / APPC and pricing trends by publisher supports, and is supported by, Shi & Morrison’s (2019) comparison of 4 pairs of publishers and sub-publishers.


Avasthi, N & Morrison, H (2019). Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India? Sustaining the Knowledge commons.

Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Shi, A & Morrison, H. (2019). APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019. Sustaining the knowledge Commons.

Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2019). APC price changes 2019 – 2018 by journal and by publisher. Sustaining the knowledge commons.



OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation

Update Jan. 20, 2020

Thank you to those who provided comments. No changes were suggested for the dataset per se; the documentation has been revised to reflect the comments and the final version is now available here.

OA APC Main 2019 dataset documentation final

This is an invitation to participate in an open peer review of the OA APC Main 2019 dataset, its documentation and the value of research blogposts made possible through this project. While feedback on the OA APC project is appreciated at any time, the formal open peer review period is Dec. 1, 2019 – Jan. 15, 2020. My perspective is that open peer review is in an early phase where experimentation with different approaches could be useful to develop future best practices.

For this reason, reviewers are welcome to submit comments in the format or venue of their choice. Comments on this blogpost are the most convenient approach for the author. Signed comments are preferred. At the end of the formal open peer review period (Jan. 15), I will write a summary of the open peer review process, including all comments and responses where warranted. Comments to date and replies are posted here.


Questions to consider in the open peer review process:

The following are meant as guidelines only. Please feel free to focus on one or more specific questions that you find of interest and/or feel qualified to comment on, including questions not asked.

1. Importance and relevance of the research questions: the project’s research question and sub-questions (from the documentation) are as follows:

Research question

What trends can be observed in APCs over time? Subquestions:

    • Will competition emerge, or will an inelastic market transition or reappear?
    • Will the percentage of journals that are charging and non-charging remain the same or change?
    • Will fully OA journals continue to actively publish, cease, change to partially OA (hybrid) or non-OA journals?
    • What are the OA publishing and charging / non-charging trends and practices of particular publishers? (Note: results of individual research project done

Are any of the research questions important, relevant, or otherwise? Do you have any advice for the research team or potential downstream researchers using the dataset about research that you think will be important and relevant in future? Do you have any suggestions for further research?

2. Adequacy of the documentation: is the documentation of the dataset sufficient so that a downstream researcher could continue this research if desired and/or use a subset of the dataset for further research?

3. Limitations: Are the limitations of the dataset sufficiently well described? Is anything missing?

4. Alternative approaches: Are the alternative approaches sufficiently well described?

5. Errors in the dataset: Please note any errors found in the dataset (be specific).

6. Other: please provide feedback on any aspects of the dataset or its documentation not covered in the above questions.

Second update January 8: thanks to Heather Staines from MIT’s Knowledge Futures Group for initiating a conversation on open peer review processes via e-mail and agreeing to publish on the blog. This conversation (which prompted the initial procedural update) can be found here.

Procedural update January 8: there are diverse approaches to data documentation and open peer review. Peer review of an earlier version of this dataset and documentation was published in MDPI’s innovative journal Data, designed for this purpose (Morrison et al. 2017). Tools have been, and are being, developed to provide technical support for new, more open approaches to peer review such as, which facilitates online annotations. I see tremendous potential for open peer review, online annotations, and collaborative online writing. However, I see the process of transformation as in an early stage where experiments (like this one) and open discussion are more important than technical solutions. In other words, my choice of this approach – blogpost and open-ended invitation –  is deliberate. Discussion about open peer review process and potential is welcome, although it is a side-conversation to reviewing this dataset designed to facilitate study of longitudinal trends in article processing charges.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from

Morrison, H., Brutus, W., Dumais-Desrosiers, M., Kakou, T. L., Laprade, K., Mehri, S., … Wheatley, S. (2017). Open Access Article Processing Charges (OA APC) Longitudinal Study 2016 Dataset. Data, 2(2), 13.


Rev. Jan. 20, 2020



Arima, an African journal in HAL archives


Kakou, T.L. (2019). Arima, une revue africaine dans Hal archives. Soutenir les savoirs communs.

English synopsis by Heather Morrison

Correction Oct. 24: the original synopsis incorrectly stated that HAL is an open archive in Social Sciences. HAL is an open archive for research across the disciplines.

African journals seek to create a space for themselves by disseminating their journals through online platforms and archives. There are multiple possibilities for preservation and publishing on line. One of these is electronic archiving. In this research post Kakou presents the HAL archive and explores the representation of African document. Developed and administered by the Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe (CCSD), the platform HAL is an open archive for research across the disciplines. In this post, Kakou presents an overview of the services offered by HAL, including and offers journal publishing within the archive and supports the innovative peer-review overlay approach to journal publishing. Arima, a journal that has been supported by the North-South coalition Colloque africain pour la Recherche en Informatique et mathématiques appliquées (CARI) for twenty years, is among the 15 Episciences journals. This is « our » platform too ; Morrison’s 2018 ELPUB OA APC survey can be found in Episciences.

Cite as: Kakou, T. L., & Morrison, H. (transl.). (2019). Arima, an African journal in HAL archives. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from

OpenEdition and French language African scholarly journals


Kakou, T.L. (2019).  OpenEdition et les revues savantes d’Afrique. Soutenir les savoirs commun.

English synopsis by Heather Morrison

OpenEdition (formerly publishes 21 African journals. Only one of these journals is published in an African country (Kenya). In this post Kakou illustrates a gap in dissemination of African scholarship, particularly francophone African scholarship. For example, of the 524 journals included in African Journals Online (AJOL), 465 (89%) are published in English speaking countries and only 39 (7%) in French speaking countries. Only 12 of the 24 African countries where French is an official or co-official languages are represented in AJOL. This research illustrates the African and particularly Francophone African knowledge gap that is the focus of Kakou’s doctoral research.

Kakou, T. L., & Morrison, H. (transl.). (2019, October 24). OpenEdition and French language African scholarly journals. Retrieved December 9, 2019, from Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir les savoirs communs website:

Peer review of Pubfair framework

Peer review of Pubfair framework:

Ross-Hellauer, T.; Fecher, B.; Shearer, K.; Rodrigues, E. (2019). Pubfair: a framework for sustainable, distributed, open science publishing. White paper, version 1: Sept. 3, 2019. Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).m Retrieved September 23, 2019 from

by: Dr. Heather Morrison,


“Science” is only one type of knowledge. There are nine faculties at the University of Ottawa; only one is named “science”, and this is typical at a large university. I strongly recommend replacing “science”, “scientists” and “open science” with more inclusive terminology such as “open scholarship” or “open knowledge”, “scholar” or “researcher” in the title and throughout the document. The Pubfair framework is an excellent beginning for a needed profound transformation in how scholars work together and disseminate research. This is the kind of approach most likely to achieve significant savings based on current spend on scholarly publishing, and these savings will be needed to support innovation in scholarly production and dissemination. My recommendation is to proceed with an iterative approach and an initial focus on helping scholarly communities with unmet needs for new forms of review and publishing, such as scholars who create and share datasets or tools using artificial intelligence, digital humanists, and scholarly bloggers. The specific needs for community input whether through review or collaboration in the planning process will vary by discipline and type of product. The work of defining needs and identifying potential solutions should be led by the scholarly community in consultation with repository managers. This is a reversal of the proposed leadership / consultation approach in the framework document. Finally, while I recommend an immediate start to this approach, my advice is to see this as a long-term radical transformation that will likely take decades to complete.


Scholarship includes, but is not limited to, science. I suggest changing the title and wording throughout the document to more inclusive terminology such as “open scholarship” or “open knowledge”. To illustrate why this matters: the University of Ottawa (uO) is an indirect membership of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) through our membership in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).  uO has 9 faculties: Arts, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Telfer School of Management. If this framework for “open science publishing services” is to become a reality, is it intended to serve only one of our 9 faculties? This seems unlikely. This conflation of “science” with “knowledge” or “scholarship” is not unique to this group but reflects a broader trend in the open movements. The problem is much larger than mere semantics, it reflects a tendency in our society to devalue types of knowledge other than science. I argue that this is a danger to our collective knowledge of all types, including science. For example, would it be wise to practice science without ethics or logic? Ethics and logic are branches of philosophy. Readers of this review will probably agree that governments should base policy on scientific evidence. However, politics per se is not science, and achieving and maintaining a goal of basing policy on scientific evidence requires understanding of history, political science, society, and communications. I discussed this in a recent conference presentation called knowledge as a human right (Morrison, 2019a).

The Pubfair conceptual model of building a framework to transform scholarly publishing building on a distributed network of repositories is a timely initiative and worthy of support. This is the kind of approach most likely to facilitate transformative transition in terms of both technology and economics. Houghton et al. (2009) conducted the most comprehensive study of the potential for transformation for a single country (the UK), comparing potential costs of 3 models: gold open access publishing, green open access archiving, and a third more transformative approach involving a new publishing system building peer review on top of archives. The transformative approach was calculated as having the potential to substantially reduce costs and was seen as the most cost-effective approach. However, at the time the UK did not think the country was ready for this transformation and opted for a focus on gold and maintenance of a pre-existing green system.

Much has changed in the past 10 years. The number of open access repositories listed in the vetted OpenDOAR list has grown from 1,419 on June 20, 2009 to 4,150 on June 30, 2019. OpenDOAR lists repositories on 5 continents. The largest metasearch service for repositories and open access journals is the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). From 2009 to 2019 (June 30 each year) BASE grew from 1,730 content providers and just over 25 million documents searched to 7,211 content providers and just under 150 million items searched. (Morrison, 2019b).

Scholarly works and their dissemination appear to be undergoing a period of rapid transformation in a way that has not been addressed by traditional approaches to evaluating scholarship, the traditional publishing business, or even the open access movement. In the digital humanities, scholars are creating collections of electronic works and developing innovative means of searching, processing, and displaying material. Scholars in a wide range of disciplines from art to engineering are using artificial intelligence to create new knowledge and practical tools. The disciplines themselves are undergoing change with new forms of scholarship often overlapping what used to be separate disciplines. A few researchers, like me, are publishing open research using blogs and likely other formats and sharing open data; more would likely follow suit if they could be confident that they would receive appropriate recognition for doing so when it comes time for tenure and promotion.

Given this context, for practical reasons I recommend an iterative approach, beginning with scholars who are interested in exploring alternatives and motivated to do so because current approaches do not meet their needs. There may be common themes across disciplines and types of research, but it will also be important to recognize differences based on the type of work and the nature of the communities that would need to configure or re-configure to accomplish this work.

Four examples:

  • Peer review of open datasets might focus on quality and completeness of data and documentation, and/or adherence to relevant standards, reference to related work, and/or importance of the dataset. Qualified peer reviewers need some expertise in quantitative data and the relevant domain; comments from those who might benefit from results would be helpful as well. The ideal outcome might involve collaboration in the process of developing datasets rather than peer review after publication, to avoid duplication or fully benefit from triangulation from different approaches to the same underlying problem.
  • Peer review of a digital humanities dataset and portal for users might focus on the quality of metadata, quality and comprehensiveness of content, usability and accessibility of the users’ portal, preservation planning, interoperability with relevant databases, or how licensing for re-use has been addressed. Here, different aspects of review involve different types of expertise, from content subject knowledge to user experience to electronic preservation. The benefits of collaboration in the planning process appear obvious.
  • Peer review of tools developed through AI to support the work of health professionals and/or to help patients monitor their own conditions may require triangulation using other methods to ensure accuracy of results, user experience analysis of the tools and/or periodic evaluation of the ongoing accuracy of AI assuming ongoing machine learning.
  • Peer review of scholarly and research blogs such as Retraction Watch, my scholarly blog The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, and my research blog org might focus on the accuracy, originality, and/or importance of the contributions. In this case, review by subject experts is essential, and technical advice, which may be provided by different reviewers, is useful. Individual authors or groups of authors may or may not see collaboration in the planning process as useful. As a researcher-blogger, I can see situations where different types of blogs and authors would benefit from different types of review.

These examples are just a few of many possible new types of scholarship made possible by the digital environment. The optimal form of review and publishing such new types of works is, at present, unknown. This is another reason to seek an iterative approach and look for leadership within the communities of scholars pursuing these approaches. To understand what kind of review is most helpful for the community, it is necessary to understand in depth the nature of the research and/or creative works that are being developed.

Finally, this transition is a major cultural shift in how academics might work in future. It will take time to figure out the questions that will arise in the process, and more time to develop solutions. In summary, while I see this as a long-term transition, an approach along the lines of Pubfair is the right direction and steps should be taken to move in this direction as soon as possible.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to comment and best wishes for Pubfair.

About me

I write as a researcher focused on the transition of scholarly communication from the demand (subscriptions / purchase) to the supply side to support a global open access knowledge commons. My research project, funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council from 2014 – 2021, is called Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. My comments will be posted in the uO institutional repository and cross-posted to my open research blog,


Houghton, J.; Rasmussen, B.; Sheehan, P.; Oppenheim, C.; Morris, A.; Creaser, C.; Greenwood, H.; Summers, M. & Gourlay, A. (2009). Economics implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefit. A report to the Joint Information Systems Committee. UK. Retrieved July 11, 2019 from:

Morrison, H. (2019a). Knowledge as a human right. Presentation Jan. 30, 2019, University of Ottawa, cc-UNESCO Science as a human right series.

Morrison, H. (2019b). The Dramatic Growth of Open Access. June 30, 2019 full dataset.

September 24, 2019.

Cross-posted: cite as:

Morrison, H. (2019). Peer review of Pubfair framework. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.



Informed consent in the context of open licensing: some questions for discussion

The purpose of this post is to encourage sharing of knowledge and ideas on the topic of modifying informed consent when working with human subjects to accommodate open licensing. Questions can be found at the end of the post.

Researchers who work with human subjects, as is common in disciplines such as health sciences, education, and social sciences, are expected to obtain informed consent from subjects prior to starting research for ethical and legal reasons.

To obtain informed consent, researchers must explain what will happen with the subject’s information and material (if applicable) and the potential consequences for the subject (beneficial and potential harm).

Consent in the context of traditional publishing meant consent to publish in one specific venue, typically under All Rights Reserved copyright. Policies and procedures for informed consent developed in this context will need to be modified in order for authors to publish using open licenses that actively invite re-use (and sometimes modification) through human and machine-readable licenses, in some cases for commercial use.

To illustrate the difference: an educational researcher might wish to obtain and use a photo of schoolchildren in a publication. In the traditional context, this permission involved publication in one venue (one journal or one book), with re-publication requiring permission from the copyright owner (publisher and/or author). Until recently, such material, while not forbidden to the general public, would usually only be found in an academic library. This is still the case with journals and books that are not yet open access. Open access per se expands access to anyone with an internet connection, but free access on the Internet is automatically covered by copyright in all countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention. Open licensing goes beyond expanding access to inviting re-use. In the case of Creative Commons licensing, the invitation is extended via a human readable form that is designed to facilitate easy understanding of permitted uses, a machine readable form that can be used by searchers to facilitate limiting searches to content by desired use, and a legal license that most people are not likely to read.

For example, publication under a CC-BY license would include traditional uses, and other beneficial uses such as re-use by another researcher building on the work of the original. CC-BY would also invite uses that could be harmful to the subjects, such as targeted commercial social media advertising or use of a modified photo in a video game (schoolkid becomes loser kid, perhaps target practice).

This does not mean that such uses would necessarily be legal, rather that open licensing is an invitation that makes such uses more likely to occur. The harmful uses described above are likely a violation of moral rights under copyright, privacy and/or publicity rights. There are potential legal remedies, but these can only be pursued after the harm is done and discovered by a subject with the means and incentive to pursue legal remedies.

The Chang v. Virgin Mobile case is an illustration of what can happen with sensitive material and lack of understanding of the implications of licensing. In brief, a photographer took a photo of a minor girl (family friend) and posted it to Flickr under a CC-BY license. Virgin Mobile interpreted the license as an invitation to use the girl’s photo in an ad campaign. The girl’s family sued Creative Commons (dropped this one) and Virgin Mobile. The case was eventually dropped for jurisdictional reasons (girl in Texas, company in Australia). Lawrence Lessig wrote about the case, arguing that Virgin’s interpretation of copyright was correct, but that the girl still has privacy rights as minor. A bit more on this here:

The Committee on Publication Ethics has published guidance for journals with respect to one type of particularly sensitive material, medical case reports. Excerpt of their General Principles on this topic:

  • Publication consent forms should be required for any case report in which an individual or a group of individuals can be identified. This requirement also applies when a report involves deceased persons. Examples of identifying information are descriptions of individual case histories, photos, x-rays, or genetic pedigrees. A list of 23 potential identifiers has been published in BioMed Central’s Trials.
  • Journals should not themselves collect the signed consent forms, because the receipt and storage of confidential patient information could subject them to cumbersome security requirements and potential legal liability under applicable privacy or patient information laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 in the USA.


These principles are designed to protect journals and their publishers, and only speak to one particular type of sensitive material. For me, this raises some questions. If anyone on the list has answers or ideas, I would love to hear them, on or off-list or as blog comments. If you reply off-list or on the blog and would prefer to be anonymous, please let me know. If warranted, I will summarize responses.


  1. COPE’s guidance is for the education and protection of journals. Is anyone aware of efforts for the education and protection of authors and their institutions on the topic of informed consent for open licensing?
  2. Do other publishers or organizations serving publishers have policies, guidance, sample forms, etc. to deal with informed consent and open licensing?
  3. Have any research ethics boards (or similar bodies) revised their guidance to accommodate informed consent and publication under open licenses?
  4. Is anyone aware of cases or analysis of potential implications of licensing for re-use for other types of material involving human subjects besides case reports?
  5. Do you have any other ideas or insights on this or closely related topics that I haven’t asked about?

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2019). Informed consent in the context of open licensing: Some questions for discussion. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from