The World’s Approach toward Publishing in Springer and Elsevier’s APC-Funded Open Access Journals

Authors : Hajar Sotudeh, Zahra Ghasempour


The present study explored tendencies of the world’s countries—at individual and scientific development levels—toward publishing in APC-funded open access journals.


Using a bibliometric method, it studied OA and NOA articles issued in Springer and Elsevier’s APC journals‎ during 2007–2011. The data were gathered using a wide number of sources including Sherpa/Romeo, Springer Author-mapper, Science Direct, Google, and journals’ websites.


The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland ranked highest in terms of their OA shares. This can be attributed to the financial resources allocated to publication in general, and publishing in OA journals in particular, by the countries.

All developed countries and a large number of scientifically lagging and developing nations were found to publish OA articles in the APC journals. The OA papers have been exponentially growing across all the countries’ scientific groups annually.

Although the advanced nations published the lion’s share of the OA-APC papers and exhibited the highest growth, the underdeveloped groups have been displaying high OA growth rates.

Practical Implications

Given the reliance of the APC model on authors’ affluence and motivation, its affordability and sustainability have been challenged.

This communication helps understand how countries at different scientific development and thus wealth levels contribute to the model.


This is the first study conducted at macro level clarifying countries’ contribution to the APC model—at individual and scientific-development levels—as the ultimate result of the interaction between authors’ willingness, the model affordability, and publishers and funding agencies’ support.

URL : The World’s Approach toward Publishing in Springer and Elsevier’s APC-Funded Open Access Journals


Gold Open Access Publishing in Mega-Journals: Developing Countries Pay the Price of Western Premium Academic Output

Authors : Jacintha Ellers, Thomas W. Crowther, Jeffrey A. Harvey

Open access publishing (OAP) makes research output freely available, and several national governments have now made OAP mandatory for all publicly funded research. Gold OAP is a common form of OAP where the author pays an article processing charge (APC) to make the article freely available to readers.

However, gold OAP is a cause for concern because it drives a redistribution of valuable research money to support open access papers in ‘mega-journals’ with more permissive acceptance criteria. We present a data-driven evaluation of the financial ramifications of gold OAP and provide evidence that gold OAP in mega-journals is biased toward Western industrialized countries.

From 2011 to 2015, the period of our data collection, countries with developing economies had a disproportionately greater share of articles published in the lower-tier mega-journals and thus paid article APCs that cross-subsidize publications in the top-tier journals of the same publisher.

Conversely, scientists from Western developed countries had a disproportionately greater share of articles published in those same top-tier journals. The global inequity of the cross-subsidizing APC model was demonstrated across five different mega-journals, showing that the issue is a common problem.

We need to develop stringent and fair criteria that address the global financial implications of OAP, as publication fees should reflect the real cost of publishing and be transparent for authors.


Authorial and institutional stratification in open access publishing: the case of global health research

Authors : Kyle Siler, Stefanie Haustein, Elise Smith, Vincent Larivière, Juan Pablo Alperin

Using a database of recent articles published in the field of Global Health research, we examine institutional sources of stratification in publishing access outcomes. Traditionally, the focus on inequality in scientific publishing has focused on prestige hierarchies in established print journals.

This project examines stratification in contemporary publishing with a particular focus on subscription vs. various Open Access (OA) publishing options.

Findings show that authors working at lower-ranked universities are more likely to publish in closed/paywalled outlets, and less likely to choose outlets that involve some sort of Article Processing Charge (APCs; gold or hybrid OA).

We also analyze institutional differences and stratification in the APC costs paid in various journals. Authors affiliated with higher-ranked institutions, as well as hospitals and non-profit organizations pay relatively higher APCs for gold and hybrid OA publications.

Results suggest that authors affiliated with high-ranked universities and well-funded institutions tend to have more resources to choose pay options with publishing. Our research suggests new professional hierarchies developing in contemporary publishing, where various OA publishing options are becoming increasingly prominent.

Just as there is stratification in institutional representation between different types of publishing access, there is also inequality within access types.

URL : Authorial and institutional stratification in open access publishing: the case of global health research


Opening Academic Publishing – Development and application of systematic evaluation criteria

Authors : Anna Björk, Juho-Matti Paavola, Teemu Ropponen, Mikael Laakso, Leo Lahti

This report summarizes the development of a standardized scorecard for evaluating the openness of academic publishers. The assessment was completed in January 2018 as part of the Open Science and Research Initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

The project complements the previous reports published by the Open Science and Research Initiative and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, which have covered (i) the openness of universities and polytechnics, (ii) the overall situation of OA publishing costs in Finland, and (iii) research organization and research funding organizations, including selected European research funders.

The project mapped and evaluated the openness of selected major academic publishers: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), American Chemical Society (ACS), Elsevier, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (LWW), Sage, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell. The dimensions of publisher openness were summarized in a scorecard of seven key factors, providing a new tool for systematic and standardized evaluation.

We used data from the publisher websites to compare the key factors of openness, and the publishers were given a chance to provide comments on the collected information. As complementary sources, we utilized data from commonly acknowledged, open databases: Directory of OA Journals (DOAJ), Gold OA Journals 2011-2016 (GOAJ2), Scopus (title list + Scimago), and Sherpa / Romeo.

The main results include the scorecard and the evaluation of openness of the selected major academic publishers. These are based on seven key factors: (i) Fraction of open access (OA) journals and their articles of the total publication output, (ii) costs of OA publishing (article processing charges, APC), (iii) use of Creative Commons (CC) licensing, (iv) self-archiving policies, (v) access to text and data mining (TDM), (vi) openness of citation data, and (vii) accessibility of information relating to OA practices.

To take a look beyond the publisher level into journal level practices we also sampled individual journals. We use the samples to discuss the distribution of journals according to APCs, their licensing and three impact metrics (CiteScore 2016, Scimago Journal & Country Ranks (SJR) 2016, and Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016).

The evaluation of the selected publishers with the scorecard indicates, for example, that the fraction of OA journals and their articles of the total publication output runs low within this group. In our sample of journals, the most expensive OA journals also seem to bear the highest impact metrics.

A definite view on the matter, however, would require more extensive data and further research. We
conclude by discussing key aspects and complexities in quantitative evaluation and in the design of a standardized assessment of publisher openness, and note also further factors that could be included in future versions of the scorecard.

URL : Opening Academic Publishing – Development and application of systematic evaluation criteria

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Open Access Determinants and the Effect on Article Performance

Author : Sumiko Asai

Although open access has steadily developed with the continuous increase in subscription journal price, the effect of open access articles on citations remains a controversial issue. The present study empirically examines the factors determining authors’ choice to provide open access and the effects of open access on downloads and citations in hybrid journals.

This study estimates author’s choice of open access using a probit model, and the results show that the cost of open access is an important factor in the decision. After a test for endogeneity of open access choice, the equation for downloads is estimated with the variables representing characteristics of articles and authors.

The results of estimating downloads by ordinary least squares show that open access increases the number of downloads in hybrid journals. On the other hand, from citation estimations using a negative binominal model, this study found that the effect of open access on the number of citations differs among hybrid journals.

It is a good practice for authors to consider a balance between article processing charges and the benefits that will be gained from open access when deciding whether to provide open access.

URL : Open Access Determinants and the Effect on Article Performance

DOI : 10.11648/j.ijber.20170606.11

If funders and libraries subscribed to open access: The case of eLife, PLOS, and BioOne

Authors : John Willinsky​, Matthew Rusk

Following on recent initiatives in which funders and libraries directly fund open access publishing, this study works out the economics of systematically applying this approach to three biomedical and biology publishing entities by determining the publishing costs for the funders that sponsored the research, while assigning the costs for unsponsored articles to the libraries.

The study draws its data from the non-profit biomedical publishers eLife and PLOS, and the nonprofit journal aggregator BioOne, with this sample representing a mix of publishing revenue models, including funder sponsorship, article processing charges (APC), and subscription fees.

This funder-library open access subscription model is proposed as an alternative to both the closed-subscription model, which funders and libraries no longer favor, and the APC open access model, which has limited scalability across scholarly publishing domains.

Utilizing PubMed filtering and manual-sampling strategies, as well as publicly available publisher revenue data, the study demonstrates that in 2015, 86 percent of the articles in eLife and PLOS acknowledged funder support, as did 76 percent of the articles in the largely subscription journals of BioOne. Twelve percent of the articles identified the NIH as a funder, 8 percent identifies other U.S. government agencies.

Approximately half of the articles were funded by non-U.S. government agencies, including 1 percent by Wellcome Trust and 0.5 percent by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. For 17 percent of the articles, which lacked a funder, the study demonstrates how a collection of research libraries, similar to the one currently subscribing to BioOne, could cover publishing costs.

The goal of the study is to inform stakeholder considerations of open access models that can work across the disciplines by (a) providing a cost breakdown for direct funder and library support for open access publishing; (b) positing the use of publishing data-management organizations (such as Crossref and ORCID) to facilitate per article open access support; and (c) proposing ways in which such a model offers a more efficient, equitable, and scalable approach to open access than the prevailing APC model, which originated with biomedical publishing.

URL : If funders and libraries subscribed to open access: The case of eLife, PLOS, and BioOne



Measuring Cost per Use of Library-Funded Open Access Article Processing Charges: Examination and Implications of One Method

Authors : Crystal Hampson, Elizabeth Stregger


Libraries frequently support their open access (OA) fund using money from their collections budget. Interest in assessment of OA funds is arising. Cost per use is a common method to assess library collections expenditures.

OA article processing charges (APCs) are a one-time cost for global, perpetual use. Article level metrics provide data on global, cumulative article level usage. This article examines a method and discusses the limitations and implications of using article level metrics to calculate cost per use for OA APCs.


Using different APC models from two publishers, PLOS and BioMed Central, this article presents a cost per use formula for each model.


The formula for each model is demonstrated with available data. The examples suggest a very low cost per use for OA APCs after only three years.


Several limitations exist to obtaining article level data currently, including the nature of open access and accessibility of the data. OA articles’ usage levels are high and include use from altruistic access. Cost per use comparison with traditional publishing models is possible; however, comparison between different OA expenditures with very low costs per use may not be helpful.


Article level metrics can provide a means to measure cost per use of OA APCs. Libraries need increased access to article level usage data. They will also need to develop new benchmarks and expectations to evaluate APC payments, given higher usage levels for OA articles and considering altruistic access.

URL : Measuring Cost per Use of Library-Funded Open Access Article Processing Charges: Examination and Implications of One Method