Article processing charges for open access journal publishing: A review

Author : Ángel Borrego

Some open access (OA) publishers charge authors fees to make their articles freely available online. This paper reviews literature on article processing charges (APCs) that has been published since 2000.

Despite praise for diamond OA journals, which charge no fees, most OA articles are published by commercial publishers that charge APCs. Publishers fix APCs depending on the reputation assigned to journals by peers.

Evidence shows a relationship between high impact metrics and higher, faster rising APCs. Authors express reluctance about APCs, although this varies by discipline depending on previous experience of paying publication fees and the availability of research grants to cover them. Authors rely on a mix of research grants, library funds and personal assets to pay the charges.

Two major concerns have been raised in relation to APCs: the inability of poorly funded authors to publish research and their impact on journal quality. Waivers have not solved the first issue. Research shows little extension of waiver use, unintended side effects on co-author networks and concerns regarding criteria to qualify for them.

Bibliometric studies concur that journals that charge APCs have a similar citation impact to journals that rely on other income sources.

URL : Article processing charges for open access journal publishing: A review


Transformative agreements: Do they pave the way to open access?

Authors : Ángel Borrego, Lluís Anglada, Ernest Abadal

Transformative agreements, also known as ‘offsetting’, ‘read and publish’, or ‘publish and read’ agreements, have shifted the focus of scholarly journal licensing from cost containment towards open access publication.

An analysis of 36 full‐text transformative agreements recorded in the ESAC registry shows that ‘transformative agreement’ is an umbrella term that encompasses different kinds of contracts. We differentiate between pre‐transformative, partially transformative, and fully transformative agreements.

Pre‐transformative agreements are traditional subscription licences that grant article processing charge (APC) discounts or vouchers for open access publication of a limited number of articles. Partially transformative agreements differentiate between a read fee and a publish fee to cover the processing charges of a certain number of articles.

Fully transformative agreements allow unlimited open access publication of the scholarly output of the subscribing institution. In all three categories, some agreements restrict open access publication to hybrid journals, whereas others allow publication in both hybrid and gold journals.

Transformative agreements are more transparent than traditional journal licences, allow authors to retain copyright, and make provisions to facilitate the management of open access workflows.

It is hard to assess whether these agreements are just a temporary phase in the transition towards open access or will perpetuate the current structure of the scholarly communication system and its associated high costs.

URL : Transformative agreements: Do they pave the way to open access?