Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis

Author: Shaun Yon-Seng Khoo

Open access publishing has frequently been proposed as a solution to the serials crisis, which involved unsustainable budgetary pressures on libraries due to hyperinflation of subscription costs. The majority of open access articles are published in a minority of journals that levy article processing charges (APCs) paid by authors or their institutions upon acceptance.

Increases in APCs is proceeding at a rate three times that which would be expected if APCs were indexed according to inflation. As increasingly ambitious funder mandates are proposed, such as Plan S, it is important to evaluate whether authors show signs of price sensitivity in journal selection by avoiding journals that introduce or increase their APCs.

Examining journals that introduced an APC 4-5 years after launch or when flipping from a subscription model to immediate open access model showed no evidence that APC introduction reduced article volumes.

Multilevel modelling of APC sensitivity across 319 journals published by the four largest APC-funded dedicated commercial open access publishers (BMC, Frontiers, MDPI, and Hindawi) revealed that from 2012 to 2018 higher APCs were actually associated with increased article volumes.

These findings indicate that APC hyperinflation is not suppressed through market competition and author choice. Instead, demand for scholarly journal publications may be more similar to demand for necessities, or even prestige goods, which will support APC hyperinflation to the detriment of researchers, institutions, and funders.

URL : Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis


The Price of Gold: Curiosity?

Authors : Daniel W. Hook, Mark Hahnel, Christian Herzog

Gold open access as characterised by the payment of an article processing charge (APC) has become one of the dominant models in open access publication. This paper examines an extreme hypothetical case in which the APC model is the only model and the systematic issues that could develop in such a scenario.


Monitoring open access publishing costs at Stockholm University

Author : Lisa Lovén

Stockholm University Library (SUB) has been tracking the University’s open access (OA) publishing costs within the local accounting system since 2016. The objective is to gain an overview of the costs and to use this as a basis for decisions about how to proceed in order to support the transition to OA at Stockholm University.

This article explains the reasons behind using the accounting system as the primary source of information and describes the workflow of tracking costs and how additional data are retrieved.

Basic findings from the 2017 cost compilation are outlined, and the steps taken in 2018, with consequences for both the current workflow and the costs at SUB, are briefly discussed. A breakout session on this topic was presented at the UKSG Annual Conference in Glasgow in 2018.

URL : Monitoring open access publishing costs at Stockholm University


OpenAPC: a contribution to a transparent and reproducible monitoring of fee-based open access publishing across institutions and nations

Authors : Dirk Pieper, Christoph Broschinski

The OpenAPC initiative releases data sets on fees paid for open access (OA) journal articles by universities, funders and research institutions under an open database licence.

OpenAPC is part of the INTACT project, which is funded by the German Research Foundation and located at Bielefeld University Library.

This article provides insight into OpenAPC’s technical and organizational background and shows how transparent and reproducible reporting on fee-based open access can be conducted across institutions and publishers to draw conclusions on the state of the OA transformation process.

As part of the INTACT subproject, ESAC, the article also shows how OpenAPC workflows can be used to analyse offsetting deals, using the example of Springer Compact agreements.

URL : OpenAPC: a contribution to a transparent and reproducible monitoring of fee-based open access publishing across institutions and nations


Predatory Open Access Journals Publishing: What, Why and How?

Author : Shamprasad M. Pujar

The Internet has transformed scholarly publishing and made the availability of online resources possible, both in subscription and open access models. Open access, has enabled wider access to the scholarly literature, thus reducing the digital divide among the haves and have-nots.

In the case of journal articles, even though its ‘Gold’ (author pays model) and ‘Green’ access models have risen to the occasion, but some publishers of journals have turned its ‘Gold’ model to their advantage to earn a profit by charging fees for publication and adopting certain unethical practices of publishing.

An effort has been made here to explore what is ‘Predatory’ open access journals publishing, why this kind of publishing is flourishing and how this model works.


APCs – Mirroring the impact factor or legacy of the subscription-based model?

Author : Nina Schönfelder

With the ongoing open-access transformation, article processing charges (APCs) are gaining importance as the dominant business model for scientific open-access journals. This paper analyzes which factors determine the level of an APC by means of multivariate linear regression.

With data from OpenAPC, APCs actually paid are explained by the following variables: (1) the “source normalized impact per paper” (SNIP), (2) whether the journal is open access or hybrid, (3) the publisher of the journal, (4) the subject area of the journal, and (5) the year.

The results show that the journal’s impact and the hybrid status are the most important factors for the level of APCs. However, the relationship between APC and SNIP is different for open-access journals and hybrid journals.

The journal’s impact is crucial for the level of APCs in open-access journals, whereas it little alters APCs for publications in hybrid-journals. This paper contributes to the emerging literature initiated by the “Pay It Forward”-study conducted at the University of California Libraries.

It sets the foundations for the assessment whether the large-scale open-access transformation of scientific journals is a financially viable way for each research institution in general and universities in particular.

URL : APCs – Mirroring the impact factor or legacy of the subscription-based model?


Disentangling Gold Open Access

Authors : Daniel Torres-Salinas, Nicolas Robinson-Garcia, Henk F. Moed

This chapter focuses on the analysis of current publication trends in gold Open Access (OA). The purpose of the chapter is to develop a full understanding on country patterns, OA journals characteristics and citation differences between gold OA and non-gold OA publications.

For this, we will first review current literature regarding Open Access and its relation with its so-called citation advantage. Starting with a chronological perspective we will describe its development, how different countries are promoting OA publishing, and its effects on the journal publishing industry.

We will deepen the analysis by investigating the research output produced by different units of analysis. First, we will focus on the production of countries with a special emphasis on citation and disciplinary differences. A point of interest will be identification of national idiosyncrasies and the relation between OA publication and research of local interest.

This will lead to our second unit of analysis, OA journals indexed in Web of Science. Here we will deepen on journals characteristics and publisher types to clearly identify factors which may affect citation differences between OA and traditional journals which may not necessarily be derived from the OA factor.

Gold OA publishing is being encouraged in many countries as opposed to Green OA. This chapter aims at fully understanding how it affects researchers’ publication patterns and whether it ensures an alleged citation advantage as opposed to non-gold OA publications.