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


La construction de la valeur économique d’une revue en chimie. Le cas du Journal of the American Chemical Society (1879-2010)

Auteur : Marianne Noel

Dans le domaine de la chimie, la facturation de l’article à l’auteur est devenue depuis quelques années la modalité principale d’open access. Le montant des frais (appelés Article Processing Charges ou APC) varie de quelques centaines à quelques milliers d’euros par article selon la revue.

Cet article propose un récit historique (1879-2010) qui suit un mécanisme méconnu antérieur à celui du paiement à l’article : la tarification à la page. Il prend pour étude de cas le Journal of the American Chemical Society-JACS, un périodique créé en 1879 par l’American Chemical Society, la plus importante société savante en chimie.

Nous proposons une chronologie en cinq périodes qui reposent sur différentes modalités de coordination marchande. Cette enquête, réalisée dans le contexte états-unien, souligne le rôle essentiel de l’État et permet d’interroger la fonction changeante de la revue dans la longue durée.



Mesurer les dépenses d’APC : méthodologie et étude de cas. Approche comparée Aix Marseille Université – Université de Lorraine

Auteurs/Authors : Marlène Delhaye, Jean-François Lutz

Souvent abusivement désigné comme le modèle « auteur-payeur », l’open access gold est généralement financé en amont par les institutions d’enseignement supérieur et de recherche qui éditent et diffusent les revues.

De fait, le DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) recense 67 % de revues en open access – dont la RFSIC – ne demandant aucun frais de publication aux auteurs. Le tiers de revues restant s’appuyant sur le paiement par les auteurs – ou leur institution de rattachement le plus souvent – de frais de traitement (Article Processing Charges, APC) pour assurer la diffusion ouverte des articles que celles-ci ont accepté de publier.

À ces revues s’ajoutent les revues traditionnellement disponibles sur abonnement qui proposent une option de diffusion en open access à l’article : il s’agit du modèle de l’open access « hybride ».

Le suivi de l’évolution des coûts engendrés par l’open access gold aussi bien que par l’open access hybride suscite un intérêt depuis la fin des années 2000. Il devient crucial dans certains pays (Royaume-Uni) à compter de 2012 et est désormais un enjeu reconnu à l’échelon européen. Après avoir présenté l’état de la réflexion européenne dans le domaine du suivi des dépenses d’APC, l’étude s’attache à présenter trois méthodes de suivi qui peuvent être mises en place au sein d’établissements d’enseignement supérieur et de recherche : utilisation d’une base de données bibliographique ; sollicitation des éditeurs et recours au logiciel comptable. Ces méthodes ont été appliquées à deux universités (Aix-Marseille Université et l’Université de Lorraine) sur des données allant de deux à trois années (2013-2015).

L’article présente de premiers résultats qui permettent d’identifier et de discuter des forces et des faiblesses de chacune des approches méthodologiques évoquées.


Offsetting and its discontents: challenges and opportunities of open access offsetting agreements

Author : Liam Earney

The growth of open access (OA) via the payment of article processing charges (APCs) in hybrid journals has been a key feature of the approach to OA in the UK. In response, Jisc Collections has been piloting ‘offsetting agreements’ that explicitly link subscription and APCs, seeking to reduce one as the other grows.

However, offsetting agreements have become increasingly contentious with institutions, advocates and publishers.

With reference to issues such as cost, administrative efficiency, transparency and the transition to open access, this paper provides an update on the status of UK negotiations, reflects on the challenges and opportunities presented by such agreements, and considers the implications for the path of future negotiations.

URL : Offsetting and its discontents: challenges and opportunities of open access offsetting agreements