PLOS APCs 2018: 3 – 7% price increases

From December 2017 to December 2018, APC prices for all PLOS journals were increased by $100 USD, resulting in percentage increases from 3% – 7%. All price increase percentages are higher than the U.S. Department of Labour Statistic’s 2.2% Consumer Price Index increase from November 2017 – December 2018. The majority of percentage price increases (4/8) are higher than the average increase in a U.S. faculty member’s salary according to the American Association of University Professors of 3% (from April 2018). The most surprising increase from my perspective is the 7% increase to the APC of PLOS ONE (twice the increase of faculty salaries, thrice the US CIP increase), because as PLOS’ pioneering megajournal, PLOS ONE’s practice is peer review limited to assessing whether the science is sound. Peer review is done by volunteers and coordinated by PLOS using a highly automated approach; it is difficult to understand how PLOS’ contribution to PLOS ONE articles justifies an APC of approximately $1,600 USD.

Data

Journal title 2018 APC publisher website USD 2017 APC publisher website  USD 2018 price increase in USD 2018 price increase percentage
PLOS Biology 3,000 2900 100 3%
PLOS Computational Biology 2,350 2250 100 4%
PLOS Genetics 2,350 2250 100 4%
PLOS Medicine 3,000 2900 100 3%
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2,350 2250 100 4%
PLOS One 1,595 1495 100 7%
PLOS Pathogens 2,350 2250 100 4%

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%.