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


Mapping the German Diamond Open Access Journal Landscape

Authors : Niels Taubert, Linda Sterzik, Andre Bruns

In the current scientific and political discourse surrounding the transformation of the scientific publication system, significant attention is focused on Diamond Open Access (OA).

This article explores the potential and challenges of Diamond OA journals, using Germany as a case study. Two questions are addressed: first, the current role of such journals in the scientific publication system is determined through bibliometric analysis across various disciplines. Second, an investigation is conducted to assess the sustainability of Diamond OA journals and identify associated structural problems or potential breaking points.

This investigation includes an in-depth expert interview study involving 20 editors of Diamond OA journals. The empirical results are presented using a landscape map that considers two dimensions: ‘monetized and gift-based completion of tasks’ and ‘journal team size.’ The bibliometric analysis reveals a substantial number of Diamond OA journals in the social sciences and humanities, but limited adoption in other fields.

The model proves effective for small to mid-sized journals, but not for larger ones. Additionally, it was found that 23 Diamond OA journals have recently discontinued their operations. The expert interviews demonstrate the usefulness of the two dimensions in understanding key differences.

Journals in two of the four quadrants of the map exemplify sustainable conditions, while the other two quadrants raise concerns about long-term stability. These concerns include limited funding leading to a lack of division of labor and an excessive burden on highly committed members.

These findings underscore the need for the development of more sustainable funding models to ensure the success of Diamond OA journals.


Supporting diamond open access journals. Interest and feasibility of direct funding mechanisms

Authors : Quentin Dufour, David Pontille, Didier Torny

More and more academics and governements consider that the open access model based on Article Processing Charges (APC) is problematic, not only due to the inequalities it generates and reinforces, but also because it has become unsustainable and even opposed to open access values.

They consider that scientific publishing based on a model where both authors and readers do not pay, the so-called Diamond, or non-APC model, should be developed and supported. However, beyond the display of such a support on an international scale, the landscape of Diamond journals is rather in the form of loosely connected archipelagos, and not systematically funded.

This article explores the practical conditions to implement a direct funding mechanism to such journals, that is reccurent money provided by a funder to support the publication process.

Following several recommendations from institutional actors in the open access world, we consider the hypothesis that such a funding would be fostered by research funding organizations (RFOs), which have been essential to the expansion of the APC model, and now show interest in supporting other models.

Based on a questionnaire survey sent to more thant 1000 Diamond Open Access journals, this article analyzes their financial needs, as well as their capacity to interact with funders. It is structured around four issues regarding the implementation of a direct funding model: do Diamond journals really make use of money, and to what end? Do they need additional money?

Are they able to engage monetary transactions? Are they able to meet RFOs visibility requirements? We show that a majority of OA Diamond journals could make use of a direct funding mechanism with certain adjustments. We conclude on the challenges that such a financial stream would spur.

URL : Supporting diamond open access journals. Interest and feasibility of direct funding mechanisms


The Rise of Platinum Open Access Journals with Both Impact Factors and Zero Article Processing Charges

Author : Joshua M. Pearce

It appears that open access (OA) academic publishing is better for science because it provides frictionless access to make significant advancements in knowledge. OA also benefits individual researchers by providing the widest possible audience and concomitant increased citation rates.

OA publishing rates are growing fast as increasing numbers of funders demand it and is currently dominated by gold OA (authors pay article processing charges (APCs)). Academics with limited financial resources perceive they must choose between publishing behind pay walls or using research funds for OA publishing.

Worse, many new OA journals with low APCs did not have impact factors, which reduces OA selection for tenure track professors. Such unpleasant choices may be dissolving. This article provides analysis with a free and open source python script to collate all journals with impact factors with the now more than 12,000 OA journals that are truly platinum OA (neither the author nor the readers pay for the peer-reviewed work).

The results found platinum OA is growing faster than both academic publishing and OA publishing. There are now over 350 platinum OA journals with impact factors over a wide variety of academic disciplines, giving most academics options for OA with no APCs.

URL : The Rise of Platinum Open Access Journals with Both Impact Factors and Zero Article Processing Charges


Diamond Open Access in Norway 2017–2020

Author : Jan Erik Frantsvåg

We see from information published elsewhere that Gold OA is on the increase globally. The OA Diamond study indicates that Diamond OA is an important component of scholarly communications, with an estimated 8–9% of the total global scholarly output.

These numbers, however, are on a global scale and are not necessarily representative of any given country; country case studies are needed to find this information. Norway is a country where the government has declared a 100% OA goal and most research has public funding. Norway has good financing structures for various models of OA, and it has a national CRIS system.

This study tries to find and present numbers for articles in scholarly journals to describe both recent developments and relative numbers for Norway as a whole, and for scholarly fields in Norway, with regards to Diamond OA. Numbers for and development of Gold OA will also be given and commented upon to some extent.

URL : Diamond Open Access in Norway 2017–2020


Open Access Models, Pirate Libraries and Advocacy Repertoires: Policy Options for Academics to Construct and Govern Knowledge Commons

Author : Melanie Dulong de Rosnay

In this article, I propose exploring open access publishing through the lenses of Knowledge Commons. Instead of focusing on users’ rights to access and reuse the output under open copyright licensing conditions, I study the governance of the academic publishing ecosystem, and its political economy, technical and labour infrastructure. Based on selected examples, I discuss how they comply with the concept of the commons.

I use analytical frameworks from the Ostromian literature of the governance of Knowledge Commons to provide insights on the various steps of academic publishing work as a process. I then analyse a scope of open access publishing projects, including gold, green, diamond, platinum and pirate libraries. Finally, I draw from practices a repertoire of advocacy actions and I make recommendations for academics to develop policies supporting Academic Commons.

URL : Open Access Models, Pirate Libraries and Advocacy Repertoires: Policy Options for Academics to Construct and Govern Knowledge Commons


Diamond open access and open peer review: An analysis of the role of copyright and librarians in the support of a shift towards open access in the legal domain

“The aim of this paper is to support initiatives that stimulate volunteer involvement in creating qualitatively good conversations about the law on the internet. The article’s core argument is that policies on open access, copyright and library services all concentrate nowon the results of scholarly conversations, while a shift in focus towards the process of scholarly communication is needed to develop new incentives for a culture of sharing. Ways to foster openness in scholarly communication need to be discipline specific. This will be elaborated by discussing the plan for an open environment for collaboration on an English translation of a Dutch introduction to private law.”