APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019

Abstract

This post features 4 comparisons between publishers and sub-publishers of fully open access journals that are included in our longitudinal APC study. Traditional publisher Wolters Kluwer owns two sub-publishers (or imprints). Wolters Kluwer Medknow journals tend not to charge APCs, and have low prices when they do charge. Wolters Kluwer Lippincott journals tend to charge, and prices are high. Indonesian-based Universitas Negeri Semerang is now one of the world’s largest OA journal publishers by the number of journals and appears to be new to online publishing using open-source software. Very few of their journals have APCs. The traditional Oxford University Press tends to have APCs, and their APCs are more than twice as high as a new UK-based not-for-profit OA journal publisher, Ubiquity Press. MDPI and Hindawi are very similar, both are fairly new, APC based commercial OA journal publishers; but Hindawi’s average APC is 44% higher than MDPIs. To understand the economics of OA journal publishing, it is necessary to take into account the strategies of particular publishers and even sub-publishers.

Research Question: are publishers and sub-publishers of fully open access journals pursuing observably different strategies with respect to publication fees (charging / non-charging, pricing strategies).

Method: 4 pairs of publishers or sub-publishers (imprints) were selected for comparison using the data from OA Main 2019, based on what appear to be differences in approach by publishers that are otherwise similar: Wolters Kluwer’s Medknow (India-based, OA in origin) & Lippincott (U.S. based, traditional subscriptions in origin); university-based publishers Universitas Negeri Semarang (Indonesia) & University of Oxford (U.K.); University of Oxford & Ubiquity (both U.K. based, traditional subscriptions v. OA origin) and MDPI & Hindawi (both commercial, OA in origin based on the APC model). Status of fully OA journals published by each publisher was compared, focusing on the tendency to charge (or not) and the amount of APC for charging journals.

Detail

1.Wolters Kluwer Medknow & Lippincott

Wolters Kluwer is one of the world’s oldest commercial scholarly publishers, having been established in 1836 in the Netherlands, where the company’s global headquarters is still located (Wolters Kluwer,2019a).

After acquiring Medknow in 2011, Wolters Kluwer focuses on develop strategic partnerships and leverage global brand and strengthen go-to-market (Wolters Kluwer,2019a). However, in Wolter Kluwer 2019 half-year financial report says: “Recurring revenues accounted for 80% of total revenues and grew 5% organically (HY 2018: 5%). Recurring revenues include subscriptions and other renewing revenue streams”. In the report, they also publish their major revenue (85.5%) comes from digital and service subscription and open access APC does not show as a certain type of revenues below (Wolters Kluwer,2019b).

Chart 1. Wolters Kluwer 2019 Half-Year financial Report

Medknow & Lippincott are different sub-publishers (imprints) belonging to Wolters Kluwer.

In 2019, Wolters Kluwers Medknow publishes 527 journals among which 99 journals (18.8%) have an APC, over half of journals do not charge a publication fee (66.6%). It is also important to notice that a few journals are redirecting to risky URL which is concerning as there are chances, it has been stolen by some other company (Avasthi, N & Morrison, H, 2019). Among the 99 journals with an APC that were studied, the highest APC is 1,500 USD and the minimal price is 9 USD. The average APC is 200 USD per article and, the most common publication fee (mode) is 150 USD per article.

2019 APC Wolters Kluwers Medknow website

For Wolters Kluwers Lippincott’s fully OA journals, over two-thirds of its journals (71.9%) have a publication fee. Among the 23 journals, the average APC is 1,756 USD per article, the range of APC (article proceeding cost) starts from 1,000 USD to 2,250 USD, and most common APC (mode) is 1,500 USD per article.
Compare to Medknow, Lippincott has a much higher average APC. Lippincott’s average publication fee is almost 9 times the average of Medknow which is 200 USD. A lower standard deviation of Medknow indicates that the publication fees tend to be close to the mean (200 USD) of the set, while a high standard deviation of Lippincott indicates that the publication fees are spread out over a wider range.

2019 APC Wolters Kluwers Lippincott website

2. Universitas Negeri Semarang & University of Oxford

Oxford University Press is one of the oldest scholarly publishers officially established in 1668. From the late 1800s, Oxford University Press began to expand significantly and makes most of its revenue from subscription and book sales.

Universitas Negeri Semarang , it appears to be fairly new to online publishing; in DOAJ the first year of online publication is 2009 or later for all the journals (column IO). Most of the journals appear to be published in Indonesian and/or English. The platform used is OJS – open source journal publishing software developed by the Public Knowledge Project. In other words, we have contrasted a very old, traditional, UK-based publisher with a new approach. (Note the size of OA journal publishing by UNS – see Appendix A.)

Universitas Negeri Semarang, based in Indonesia, is among the largest fully open access publishers with 96 journals. According to DOAJ webpage, Indonesia becomes the second largest country of publisher by number of journals ( see Appendix B.) and Indonesian rupiah becomes the 6th among all the original currencies for OA journals which accounts for 1.86%. The University of Oxford is a very well-known traditional scholarly publisher. These two university publishers have different approaches to APC. After comparing these two publishers we found Universitas Negeri Semarang has no publication fee for 88.5% of its journals while the University of Oxford has a fee for 80.3% of its fully open access journals.

3. University of Oxford and Ubiquity

As mentioned before, Oxford University Press is one of the oldest scholarly publishers which has a rich history which can be traced back to the earliest days of printing.

Ubiquity Press as an open access publisher of peer-reviewed academic journals and books was founded by researchers at University College London (UCL) in 2012. As a highly cost-efficient press, it provides access to the platform to give universities and societies the infrastructure and services they need to run their own presses through the Ubiquity Partner Network and allow societies to earn income from open access.

The average price of Ubiquity journals that only charge in GBP is 469 GBP (596 USD) and the most common price among those journals (mode) is 300 GBP (381 USD). The average price of Oxford University Press journals that only charge in GBP is 4543 GBP (5769 USD) and the most common price among those journals (mode) is 1250 GBP (1587 USD). The chart below shows the differences between Ubiquity and Oxford University Press on the APC that charged in GBP.

The overall average APC of Ubiquity journals that have a fee is 577 USD while the overall average APC of the University of Oxford is 1,549 USD. The average APC difference between these two publishers is 972 USD.

2019 APC Ubiquity publisher website

4.MDPI and Hindawi

Hindawi is one of the world’s largest publishers of peer-reviewed, fully Open Access journals. Built on an ethos of openness, it works with the global academic community to promote open scholarly research to the world. Based in institutions around the globe, it focuses on serving authors while preserving robust publishing standards and editorial integrity.

MDPI has supported academic communities since 1996 as a non-profit institute for the promotion and preservation of the diversity of chemical compounds. Based in Basel, Switzerland, MDPI has the mission to foster open scientific exchange in all forms, across all disciplines.
Mr. Dietrich Rordorf joined MDPI as Dr. Shu-Kun Lin’s assistant in August 2005. As an experiment, a modified version of the online submission and editorial system based on the Open Journals System (http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/) was launched by Dietrich for IJMS. Nowadays, MDPI has become the 7th largest publisher in number of articles published in 2018, and the largest publisher of open access articles in DOAJ in 2018.

MDPI and Hindawi charge fees for all the journals they published in 2019. However, their publication fees are different as the charts show below. Even though the highest APC are quite close for both publisher (2,049 USD for MDPI and 2,300 USD for Hindawi), the average APC for MDPI is 822 USD and 1,186 USD for Hindawi. We can also see the difference through mode. The most common price of Hindawi is 950 USD per article (Shi, A., 2019) while the most most common APC for MDPI journals is 350 CHF (359 USD) in 2019.

Cite as: 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/

Reference:

Morrison, H. (2018). MDPI 2019: price increases, some hefty, and more coming in July. Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/02/13/mdpi-2019-price-increases-some-hefty-and-more-coming-in-july/
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/
Shi, A. (2019). Hindawi APC comparison 2018-2019. Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/05/hindawi-apc-comparison-2018-2019/
Brutus, W. (2015). Oxford Open: Increased the Number of Open Access Journal. Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/11/17/oxford-open-increased-the-number-of-open-access-journal/
Pasha, H. (2019). Open Access in 2019: Original currencies for article processing charge. Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/26/open-access-in-2019-original-currencies-for-article-processing-charge/
Pasha, H. (2018). Medknow in 2018: growing fast! Sustaining the knowledge https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/12/13/medknow-in-2018-growing-fast/
Hindawi (2019). About Hindawi. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from https://about.hindawi.com/
MDPI (2019). Overview. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from https://www.mdpi.com/about
Wolters Kluwer (2019)a. Our heritage. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from https://wolterskluwer.com/company/about-us/our-heritage
Wolters Kluwer (2019)b. Wolters Kluwer 2019 Half-Year Report. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from https://wolterskluwer.com/binaries/content/assets/wk/pdf/investors/press-releases/2019.07.31-wolters-kluwer-2019-half-year-report.pdf
Ubiquity Press (2019). About Ubiquity Press. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2019 from https://www.ubiquitypress.com/site/about-general/

Appendix A

Publishers in DOAJ in descending order of number of journals

As of Nov. 19, 2019, Universitas Negeri Semarang is the 12th largest publisher by number of journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Elsevier (339)
BMC (328)
Sciendo (326)
Hindawi Limited (238)
SpringerOpen (202)
Wolters Kluwer Medknow Publications (194)
MDPI AG (191)
SAGE Publishing (165)
Taylor & Francis Group (163)
Wiley (109)
Dove Medical Press (103)
Universitas Negeri Semarang (90)

Appendix B

Country of publisher in DOAJ in descending order of number of journals

As of Nov. 21, 2019, Indonesia becomes the second largest country of publisher by number of journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

United Kingdom (1,609)
Indonesia (1,565)
Brazil (1,445)
Spain (755)
United States (741)
Poland (619)
Iran, Islamic Republic of (511)
Turkey (404)
Italy (387)
Russian Federation (367)

Hindawi APC comparison 2018-2019

Abstract:

481 Hindawi journals were analyzed. 226 (47%) journals published at some point from 2010 – 2019 have ceased publication, 7 cannot be found on the Hindawi website anymore and 1 has been transferred to another publisher. In 2019, there are 247 journals actively publishing on the Hindawi website. All the journals are charging APCs. The average price is 1186.44 USD, an increase of 14% over the 2018 APC (1040.30 USD). Compared to the US inflation rate for 2018 of 2.44%(“U.S. Inflation Rate 1960-2019” n.d.), the publication fee rises more than 5 times. Among active journals, 17% of the 217 journals did not change in price; 30% journals decreased their price while more than half (53%) of the journals increased price. The amount of price increase starts from 25 USD up to 1350 USD. 14 journals appear to have switched from “no fee” to “fee”, with different APCS from 750 USD to 1350 USD.

Most journals that not found on the website in 2018 now been illustrated ceased on the web page with the specific ceased year and where to find previous publication articles which could be good practice for authors who are trying to find the latest information about specific journals. it also benefits other publishers to follow the lead.

Detail:

Table 1: 2019 Hindawi Journal Publication and APC status summary

Hindawi has 481 journals in 2019. Among these journals, 226 of them were reported ceased on Hindawi’s website. In 2018, most of the ceased journals cannot be found in the website but they have been specified on the webpage about when this journal is ceased and where can readers find previous articles published in the journal. This is a good practice. Here is a example of one of the ceased title.

screenshot from Hindawi website

Price changes 2018-2019

Hindawi has 232 active journals listed on its website in 2018. In 2019, there are 247 journals actively publishing on the Hindawi website. There are 15 journals that cannot be found on the website now can be searched which represents a 6.47% increase in journal numbers of Hindawi.

The average publication fee we found from the Hindawi’s website in 2018 is 1040.30 USD. There are 14 journals that had no publication fee in 2018 in contrast with no journals with no publication fee in 2019 and for most journals the publication fee is 1000 USD per article. The range of APC (article proceeding cost) starts from no publication fee which is zero to 2250 USD.

This average takes into account the 15 journals’ APC for the year 2019. This year, the majority of journals have a publication fee of 950 USD per article. Obviously, every journal found on the Hindawi website does have a publication fee from this year. The minimum cost is 650 USD up to 2300 USD. Graph 1 and Graph 2 below shows the frequency of APC for different prices in two years.

Table 2 2018 & 2019 Hindawi active titles APC status summary

Graph 1: price distribution for 2018

Graph 2: price distribution for 2019

Of the 247 journals total:

  • 15 “new” journals are added in 2019 (including in 2019 overall analysis but not 2018-2019 change analysis)
  • Journals with status: no publication fee coded as 0 in change analysis.

Total journals included in the price change analysis:

  • 2019 overall: 232
  • 2018-2019 comparison: 217

Of the 217 titles, as illustrated in the chart and table below, a majority of these journals (53%) increased in prices in USD from 2018 to 2019, while a third (30%) decreased in price and a few (17%) did not change in price.

For the 116 journals that increased in price, the increases in percentages ranged from 2.22% to 95% (slightly under double in price).

Among the 65 journals with APC price decreases, the drop in percentage ranged from 5% to 24%.

Working dataset : https://sustainingknowledgecommons.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/hindawi-analysis_2019_prep_version-0.xlsx

Cite as: Shi, A. (2019). Hindawi APC comparison 2018-2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/05/hindawi-apc-comparison-2018-2019/

Selected previous posts on Hindawi:
Morrison, H. (2018). Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ). Sustaining the knowledge commonshttps://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/04/13/recent-apc-price-changes-for-4-publishers-bmc-hindawi-plos-peerj/
In brief: Hindawi April 2016 – November 2017: mixed picture, price increases a bit concerning
Brutus, W. (2017). Hindawi: comparaison 2016 – 2017. Soutenir les savoirs communshttps://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2017/04/22/hindawi-comparaison-2016-2017/
In brief: French – highlights: the mode (most common APC) was $600 USD in 2016, $1,000 in 2017
Salhab, J. (2016). Hindawi publisher: 2016 findings and longitudinal comparison of APC rates. Sustaining the knowledge commonshttps://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/04/27/hindawi-publisher-2016-findings-and-longitudinal-comparison-of-apc-rates/
​In brief: Hindawi previously used a strategy of rotating free publication in journals, mentioned in this post; the most common APC in both 2015 and 2016 was $600; comparing 2010 and 2016 data, we see a mixed picture with some prices increasing and others decreasing.
Salhab, J. & Morrison, H. (2015). Who is served by for-profit gold open access publishing? A case study of Hindawi and Egypt. Sustaining the knowledge commonshttps://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2015/04/10/who-is-served-by-for-profit-gold-open-access-publishing-a-case-study-of-hindawi-and-egypt/
Highlights: as reported by Poynder (2012), Ahmed Hindawi, (from Egypt) founder of Hindawi, confirmed a revenue of millions of dollars from APCs alone – a $3.3 net profit on $12 million in revenue, a 28% profit rate. Hindawi is highly regarded as a leading reputable open access publisher. This commercial Egyptian success story is contrasted with high APC for the most prestigious journals and English-language- only journals that suggest that this approach is not helpful for Egypt’s researchers.

Reference:

“U.S. Inflation Rate 1960-2019.” n.d. Accessed October 31, 2019 from https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/inflation-rate-cpi

Poynder, R. (2012).The OA interviews: Ahmed Hindawi, founder of Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Retrieved March 10, 2015 from http://www.richardpoynder.co.uk/Hindawi_Interview.pdf

Cite as:

Shi, A. (2019). Hindawi APC comparison 2018-2019. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/05/hindawi-apc-comparison-2018-2019/

 

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%.