Updates June 4:
- Frontier’s comment regarding their pricing transparency below is helpful. It is important for those who support gold OA publishing to understand the cost implications of their demands and expectations. Frontiers states: “As Frontiers’ sole source of income, APCs allow us to subsidize new journals and communities with less research funding, to reinvest in our publishing platform, and to offer a fee support program. More than a third of all articles published in 2017/18 received full or partial waivers as a result of this approach, which we fully intend to continue to offer in the years ahead.” An average APC of $2,170 USD could support hosting a whole journal in North America and could be enough to fund a year or partial year of a highly paid researchers’ salary, in less affluent countries. If granting agencies were to directly subsidize local publishing in both more and less affluent countries, this would probably cost less and do more (by supporting local development) than expecting publishers like Frontiers to subsidize APCs.
- It has come to my attention that this post happens to coincide with negotiations on a national agreement between Frontiers and Germany in the context of PlanS / cOAlition S. Details about the agreement can be found:
A third of the journals published by Frontiers in 2019 and 2020 (20 / 61 journals) have increased in price by 18% or more (up to 55%). This is quite a contrast with the .4% Swiss inflation rate for 2019 according to Worlddata.info ; 18% is 45 times the inflation rate. This is an even more marked contrast with the current and anticipated economic impact of COVID; according to Le News, “A team of economic experts working for the Swiss government forecasts a 6.7% fall in GDP”. (Frontiers’ headquarters is in Switzerland).
This is similar to our 2019 finding that 40% of Frontier’s journals had increased in price by 18% or more (Pashaei & Morrison, 2019) and our 2018 finding that 40% of Frontier journals had increased in price by 18% – 31% (Morrison, 2018).
The price increases are on top of already high prices. For example, Frontiers in Earth Science increased from 1,900 USD to 2,950 USD, a 55% price increase. Frontiers in Oncology increased from 2,490 to 2,950 USD, an 18% price increase.
This illustrates an inelastic market. Payers of these fees are largely government research funders, either directly or indirectly through university libraries or researchers’ own funds. The payers are experiencing a major downturn and significant challenges such as lab closures, working from home in lockdown conditions, and additional costs to accommodate public health measures, while Frontiers clearly expects ever-increasing revenue and profit.
Following is a list of Frontier journals with price increases. All pricing is in USD.
|Journal title||2020 APC||2019 APC||2020 – 2019 price change (numeric)||2020 – 2019 price change (percent)|
|Frontiers in Earth Science||2,950||1,900||1,050||55%|
|Frontiers in Veterinary Science||2,950||1,900||1,050||55%|
|Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Energy Research||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Environmental Science||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Nutrition||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Physics||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Surgery||2,490||1,900||590||31%|
|Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence||1,150||950||200||21%|
|Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Chemistry||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Marine Science||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Materials||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Oncology||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Pediatrics||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
|Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience||2,950||2,490||460||18%|
The full spreadsheet can be found here:
Morrison, H. (2018). Frontiers: 40% journals have APC increases of 18 – 31% from 2017 to 2018. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/04/12/frontiers-40-journals-have-apc-increases-of-18-31-from-2017-to-2018/
Pashaei, H., & Morrison, H. (2019). Frontiers in 2019: 3% increase in average APC. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/04/30/frontiers-in-2019-3-increase-in-average-apc/
Cite as: Morrison, H. (2020). Frontiers 2020: a third of journals increase prices by 45 times the inflation rate. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs : https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/06/03/frontiers-2020-a-third-of-journals-increase-prices-by-45-times-the-inflation-rate/