APCs comparisons among different publishers in 2019


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.


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/


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)

Medknow 2019 – is this the best for India?

By: Niharika Avasthi and Heather Morrison

Abstract – Open access journals have been developing in India for several decades for promoting the visibility of research done in various streams. OA to science has been encouraged by government sponsored repositories of student and doctoral proposals, and numerous Indian journals are distributed with OA. There is a need to build mindfulness among Indian scholastics with respect to publication practices, including OA, and its potential advantages, and use this methodology of distribution at whatever point doable, as in openly supported research. This research also showed that a well doing publisher in India gets acquired by  European publisher Wolters Kluwer and becomes commercialised. The number of journals with “title not found” or “risky URL”, for example leading to a scam website, is surprising as one might assume that the motivation for this publisher’s society, university and commercial partners is that such partnership would result in high quality services. Most Medknow journals do not charge publication fees. The journals with publication fees are increasing the cost up to 50%. For documentation and a link to the underlying dataset, see Morrison et al. (2019).

According to the Medknow website, Medknow Publications was founded in 1997 in Mumbai, India by Devkumar Sahu. Sahu opted for the open access model of publishing services. Open access publishing means that research outputs and analysis are available online free of cost. In 2006, Medknow had 33 scientific technical and medical journals in its portfolio, at the time, one of the largest open access publishers of medical content in the world. They became the largest open access publishers of medical content till 2006. It was then acquired by Wolters Kluwer in Dec 2011.  Medknow now provides publishing services to over 500 medical society journals in over 40 specialties. These are open access journals. Open access increases the visibility and accessibility of the published content. Medknow publishes journals in partnership with societies (affiliations), universities or other commercial partners for the most part. Most of the publications offer free access to the full text of papers immediately. Authors can self-archive articles that have been published. Journals are available freely online but also available through value-added subscriptions.

Chart 1 : Medknow 2019 count of publisher type
CodeMeaning% of total
C/SCommercial / society (Medknow publishes in partnership with a scholarly society)56%
C/UCommercial / university (Medknow publishers in partnership with a university)25%
No PartnershipOwned outright by Medknow10%
C/CCommercial / Commercial (Medknow publishes in partnership with another commercial publisher9%

531 Medknow journals were analysed in this research. This is an increase of approximately 7% in the count of journals in 2018. It is a significant growth however lesser as compared to that from 2017-2018. Out of these 531 journals, almost 65% of the journals do not charge publication cost. 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. For the analysis I looked at each journal from Medknow’s website on an alphabetical basis. The charges for each journal are mentioned in a different manner. Some of the journals directly states the cost they charge however; few charges are based of the article type as mentioned below:

  • Short communications
  • Case Reports
  • Original Articles
  • Qualitative Research
  • Review Articles
  • Number of words

The below graph shows the representation of charges being taken by Medknow for 2019.

Out of 104 journals that are charging APC, below table shows the distribution of charges based on different currencies for the year 2019.

Most journals are charging in INR and USD. It is to be noticed as the journal originally started from India, but they started taking the publication cost in various other currencies as well which could be confusing for potential authors. Even for INR, there is no fixed cost and it is varying depending on each journal. There are few journals who are not charging for Indian authors but have mentioned publication costs for writers outside India. Have a look at the chart below:

This is a variation and we cannot suggest on a pattern of the publication cost. Below table shows the numbers currency wise:

If we look at the data from 2018, we can see that there has been both increase and decrease in the publication cost for the journals. There has been an increase of 16% in the journals whose title were not found, and this is subsequent to notice as Medknow being one of the well-known publishers does not have websites for so many journals! These journals have not been listed as ceased or nothing specific has been mentioned related to them. There are just 3% journals who showed a price drop but 4% increased the cost. At one side most journals are not charging publication fees but few of them have relatively increased their cost.

Please refer the below table for APC statistics comparison based on different currencies

Looking at the above table, I feel that it is relatively high cost to take for publishing a journal. In todays world, 8000 – 10000 INR would be a week’s salary of a corporate employee in a non metro city. Again, it depends from author to author, but the charge should be in a cap where its not too high. USD, EGP and IRR seem to be balanced as compared to charges being taken in INR globally.


Morrison, H. et al. (2019). OA Main 2019: Dataset, documentation and open peer review invitation. Sustaining the knowledge commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/20/oa-main-2019-dataset-documentation-and-open-peer-review-invitation/

Brutus, W. & Morrison, H. (2016). Medknow 2016: it’s complicated! Sustaining the knowledge commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/10/11/medknow-2016-its-complicated/

Fernandez, L. (2006). Open Access Initiatives in India – an Evaluation. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v1i1.110

Pasha, H. & Morrison, H (2018). Medknow in 2018: growing fast! | Sustaining the Knowledge Commons https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/12/13/medknow-in-2018-growing-fast/

Singh, S. & Morrison, H. (2019). OA journals non-charging and charging central trends 2010 – 2019. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/11/23/oa-journals-non-charging-and-charging-central-trends-2010-2019/

Cite as: 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/

Medknow in 2018: growing fast!


by Hamid Pashaei and Heather Morrison

Medknow is a commercial scholarly journal publisher based in India, which was acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2011. The analysis of Medknow’s journals in 2018 shows that there has been a significant increase in number of their journals, with 23% increase comparing to 2017. It appears that most of Medknow’s journals are published in collaboration with different universities and societies in the field of medical research.

Due to variety of affiliated communities who collaborate with Medknow, finding information and collecting data from Medknow’s website is complex. Some data about the processing charge of journals were not available, and the currency was provided in different units (INR, USD, CNY, …) that could also be confusing for potential authors. From the journals for which data was available, 71% charged no processing fee. While the cost for the majority of paid journals were fixed comparing to 2017 data, there were also an increase in cost for some journals. The processing charge for publishing journals is based on APC (Article Processing Charge), with only a few exceptions that were based on APPC (Article Page Processing Charges).



Cite as: Pashaei, H., & Morrison, H. (2018). Medknow in 2018: Growing fast! Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/12/13/medknow-in-2018-growing-fast/

Medknow 2016: it’s complicated!

by Widlyne Brutus and Heather Morrison


Medknow is an emerging commercial scholarly journal publisher based in the developing world (India) that is owned by one of the oldest and most traditional western-based commercial publishers, Wolters Kluwer, that publishes in partnership with many long-standing traditional society and university journals. Even though the publisher is for-profit by nature, the majority of journals do not charge APCs. Of the journals that do charge APCs, most have not changed price between 2015 and 2016; some journals are adding or dropping APCs, and a few have lowered their APC. However, we identified 16 journals that did raise APCs from 2015 to 2016, in some cases by substantial amounts (over 50%, some even doubling or tripling in price).



Medknow is a commercial publisher of peer-review medical journals that originated in India. This publisher has partnerships with many associations, societies and universities and its publications include many long-standing not-for-profit journals. Of the 141 journals published by Medknow, more than half (83 journals) are published in partnership with universities and learned societies.

A traditional commercial scholarly publisher, with a history dating back to 1836, Wolters Kluwer, acquired Medknow in 2011. The reason for mentioning this is as one example of how the distinction between traditional and open access publishers may not be as relevant today as it used to be.

The partnership with the not-for-profit societies and universities likely explains why less than half of Medknow journals (70 journals) charge an APC as of 2016 (an increase from 61 journals with APCs in 2015).

In 2016, there are 26 journals that clearly state that there is no processing charge, down from 28 journals in 2015. It is not always clear whether there is an APC or not. In 2016 we note 38 journals with no cost found (meaning we did not find either an APC or clear language stating that there is no APC), down slightly from 41 in 2015.

There 28 publication in 2015 that have no publication fees and in 2016 26 publication have no processing charge.

Widlyne compared the averages of the article processing charge for the year of 2015 and 2016.

The average in 2015 was $285 and in 2016, $173 in US dollar. While the price seems to have decreased, this likely reflects currency fluctuations as the primary currency for a large portion of the journals is not USD, for example Indian rupees as the primary currency is very common. So this information should not be taking as a proof of the decrease of APC.

Comparing prices on a journal-by-journal basis, most of the prices did not change (31 journals had exactly the same price). Four journals lowered their APC and two no longer charge APC’s.

16 journals have increased their APCs, this table show which journal have increase their APC’s, the amount for 2015 and 2016 and the percentage of increase.


As you can see most of these journals have increase their APC considerably; at least 8 journals increased their price by more than half. Some journals even doubled or tripled their prices.

Cite as:

Brutus, W., & Morrison, H. (2016). Medknow 2016: It’s complicated! Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/10/11/medknow-2016-its-complicated/