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:
http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc
http://www.mdpi.com/about/apc-2017

Some Publishers and Journals statistics can also be found here:
https://www.scilit.net/rankings
Please read the “Disclaimer & Notes”.

Hoping this is useful,
Best wishes,
Franck

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

http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7967-3798
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Franck_Vazquez
https://www.linkedin.com/in/franck-vazquez-932a96a8/


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:
https://tradingeconomics.com/switzerland/consumer-price-index-cpi

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

best,

Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa
Heather.Morrison@uottawa.ca
https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org
https://uniweb.uottawa.ca/?lang=en#/members/706

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
Franck


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.

best,

Heather Morrison
sustainingknowledgecommons.org


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

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.

Comment

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor & Francis 2017 Data

Abstract: Taylor & Francis is one of several major, traditionally commercial, scholarly publishers that is moving to the Open access space. Taylor & Francis publishes 2,550 journals and now has a major part of them available for Gold Open Access. 150 journal published by Taylor & Francis are in fully open access.

Around 77% of fully open access journals have an APC, but only 1% of those have an APC in DOAJ. Of the APCs available in DOAJ, 54% varies from the APCs found in Taylor & Francis. Less than 3% of fully open access journals have an APPC.

At least 7 journals published by Taylor & Francis do not have publications fees.

The APC average for fully open is 794.55 GBP (including only the 106 journals with APCs), for hybrid is 1574.38 GBP and for subscription was not calculated because only three journals had APCs.

These averages are higher than the APC average for 2016 of 702.74 GBP (converted with the Bank of Canada currency converter (on March 21st, 2017)). (Excluding journals with an APC of $0).

T&amp;F Pie Chart 2017

See full text here

MPDI : suivi des APCs

Résumé :

En comparant les frais de publication des différentes revues mentionnées sur le site MDPI entre mars 2016 et mars 2017 nous remarquons quelques différences entre les 2 années.

Ceci dit que les APCs ont augmenté dans 92 % des revues. Cette augmentation oscille entre 6% et 350 %.

Par exemple, les APCs pour la revue Coalitions est passé de 350 CHF en 2016 a 850 CHF en 2017.

Selon le site MDPI, environ 60 revues en libre accès n’exigent pas de frais de publication en 2017.

En observant de près les APCs des différentes revues, nous remarquons qu’il n’y a aucune baisse des frais de publication et que seulement 8% des revues ont gardé les mêmes frais de publication 2016-2017.

mdpi_apc

Texte intégral de l’article

Scientific Research Publishing 2017: not currently in DOAJ but apparently stable and active

Scientific Research Publishing

2017 sample (5 journals)

In brief: Scientific Research Publishing is not currently listed in DOAJ, but is included in the APC study as a publisher previously included in DOAJ and the longitudinal APC study. The publisher currently has 247 titles. A sample of the 65 titles for which we have data from previous years shows stable pricing from 2016 – 2017. All journals are active, publishing 4 – 14 issues and 13 – over 100 articles in 2016. Conclusion: this publisher appears active and stable. Our sampling for 2017 is limited to these 5 journals.

Details

Full explanation and methods notes in PDF:  Scientific Research Publishing

Download data in excel format: SRP_2017_plus_OA_APC_Main_2016sample