In brief: our evidence suggests an average attrition rate of APC-charging journals of approximately 1.5% – 2% per year, depending on whether one includes or excludes the anomaly of a particular business model of a new publisher (Bentham Open) starting off with a very large number of journals and retaining only successful titles.
Solomon and Björk (2012) conducted a survey in 2010 of APCs based on a sample of 1,090 APC-charging journals that were listed in DOAJ at that time. Not all APC-charging journals in DOAJ as of 2010 were included; no journals listed in DOAJ as of 2010 that did not charge APCs were included. We compared this data with our 2016 APC survey (Morrison et al, 2017).
Of the 1,090 titles, 32 titles were published by publishers that have never been included in our longitudinal APC survey. Our survey is not limited to DOAJ, but is limited to fully OA journals that either have been listed in DOAJ in 2014, 2015, or 2016, or whose publishers have been listed in DOAJ in 2014, 2015, or 2016. Excluding the 32 titles, of the 1,058 titles studied, 849 are confirmed active in 2016, and 209 are discontinued or presumed discontinued for an attrition rate of 20% from 2010 – 2016. However it is important to note that Bentham Open is a significant anomaly, accounting for 123 of the discontinued titles from 2010 – 2016 and 4 of the discontinued titles from 2015 – 2016. Excluding these journals, the attrition rate is 82 / 935 journals or 9% over the 6 year period.
The attrition rate for 2015 – 2016 for journals studied in 2010 is 2%, or 19 of the 868 journals studied in 2015 found to be inactive in 2016. Note that 4 of these journals (25% of the total) are Bentham Open journals.
The Bentham Open anomaly reflects a particular business practice. This fairly new publisher has taken the approach of creating a large number of journals at once and appears to be retaining titles that are successful. That is, Bentham Open’s high numbers of discontinued journals need to be assessed in light of the total number of journals. In 2010, Bentham Open accounted for 211 of the 1,090 journals studied. Of these, 84 journals were active in 2016. In other words, the number of discontinued journals does not necessarily reflect an unsuccessful publisher.
In conclusion, the evidence appears to suggest an average attrition rate of about 1.5% – 2% of APC charging journals sampled, depending on whether we include or exclude the anomaly of a publisher model of starting with a large number of journals on speculation and retaining only successful titles.
2010 to 2016 comparison attrition
Morrison, Heather; Brutus, Widlyne; Dumais-Desrosier, Myriam; Laprade, Katherine; Merhi, Salah; Ouerghi, Arbia; Salhab, Jihane; Volkanova, Victoria; Wheatley, Sara, 2017, “Open access article processing charges 2016”, doi:10.5683/SP/KC2NBV, Scholars Portal Dataverse, V2
Solomon, D. J. & Björk, B.-C. (2012) A study of open access journals using article processing charges. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 2012, 63, 1485–1495. Available online: http://www.openaccesspublishing.org/apc2/preprint.pdf