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)

Oxford Open: Increased the Number of Open Access Journal

Oxford Open wants to distribute journals of high-quality research but to be able to publish the journal in the open access model. They do charge article processing fees for most of their journals. Oxford Open also has journals that the author can choose the open access option (hybrid journals), but for the purpose of our research, we only use the journal that is available fully in open access.

By collecting the information about the open-access journals I noticed that only 14 of their journals don’t have any processing charge and some of them don’t have them, but only for 2016.


Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.40.15 AM.png

On their website I was able to collect 35 journal titles, the DOAJ only has 16. They seem to aim for more journals that will be available without fees for the user.


Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.42.27 AM.png

In 2015 they had 11 journals and we sampled 5 of them. Only two have increased their price and the other three journals the price remained the same. The Journal DNA Research has increased the most of their processing fees in 2016. It has risen by 50%. However, the Nucleic Acids Research  has a rise they processing fees from 1400 GBP in 2015 to 1420 GBP in 2016.

Cite as:

Brutus, W. (2016). Oxford Open: Increased the Number of Open Access Journal. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/11/17/oxford-open-increased-the-number-of-open-access-journal/