An open dataset of article processing charges from six large scholarly publishers

Authors : Leigh-Ann Butler, Madelaine Hare, Nina Schönfelder, Eric Schares, Juan Pablo Alperin, Stefanie Haustein

This paper introduces a dataset of article processing charges (APCs) produced from the price lists of six large scholarly publishers – Elsevier, Frontiers, PLOS, MDPI, Springer Nature and Wiley – between 2019 and 2023.

APC price lists were downloaded from publisher websites each year as well as via Wayback Machine snapshots to retrieve fees per journal per year. The dataset includes journal metadata, APC collection method, and annual APC price list information in several currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, CHF, JPY, CAD) for 8,712 unique journals and 36,618 journal-year combinations.

The dataset was generated to allow for more precise analysis of APCs and can support library collection development and scientometric analysis estimating APCs paid in gold and hybrid OA journals.

URL : An open dataset of article processing charges from six large scholarly publishers

Arxiv :

Choice of Open Access in Elsevier Hybrid Journals

Author : Sumiko Asai

Open access articles in hybrid journals have recently increased despite high article processing charges. This study investigated the impacts of grants and transformative agreements on authors’ choice of open and non-open access articles by comparing two article types. The samples were hybrid journals launched independently by Elsevier.

The results revealed that the authors who received more grants in countries with transformative agreements were more likely to choose open access articles. By contrast, authors in developing countries were likely to publish non-open access articles.

These findings imply that authors’ choices depend on the funding systems and open access policies in individual countries. Consequently, open access may become a barrier to the dissemination of work for researchers who have financial difficulty choosing open access, although it enables everyone to access articles free of charge.

URL : Choice of Open Access in Elsevier Hybrid Journals


The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How the Big Five Academic Publishers Profit from Article Processing Charges

Authors : Leigh-Ann Butler, Lisa Matthias, Marc-André Simard, Philippe Mongeon, Stefanie Haustein

This study aims to estimate the total amount of article processing charges (APCs) paid to publish open access (OA) in journals controlled by the five large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley between 2015 and 2018.

Using publication data from WoS, OA status from Unpaywall and annual APC prices from open datasets and historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, we estimate that globally authors paid $1.06 billion in publication fees to these publishers from 2015–2018.

Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the most revenue from OA ($589.7 million), followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million) and Sage ($31.6 million).

With Elsevier and Wiley making most of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.

URL : The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How the Big Five Academic Publishers Profit from Article Processing Charges


Analysing Elsevier Journal Metadata with a New Specialized Workbench inside ICSR Lab

Authors : Ramadurai Petchiappan, Kristy James, Andrew Plume, Efthymios Tsakonas, Ana Marušić, Mario Malicki, Francisco Grimaldo, Bahar Mehmani

In this white paper we introduce Elsevier’s Peer Review Workbench which will be available via the computational platform ICSR Lab. The workbench offers a unique dataset to interested researchers who want to run research on journal evaluation and peer review processes.

We describe its properties, advantages, and limitations as well as the process of proposal application. This is a living document and will be updated on a regular basis.


Surveillance Publishing

Author : Jeff Pooley

This essay develops the idea of surveillance publishing, with special attention to the example of Elsevier. A scholarly publisher can be defined as a surveillance publisher if it derives a substantial proportion of its revenue from prediction products, fueled by data extracted from researcher behavior.

The essay begins by tracing the Google search engine’s roots in bibliometrics, alongside a history of the citation analysis company that became, in 2016, Clarivate. The essay develops the idea of surveillance publishing by engaging with the work of Shoshana Zuboff, Jathan Sadowski, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, and Aziz Huq.

The recent history of Elsevier is traced to describe the company’s research-lifecycle data-harvesting strategy, with the aim to develop and sell prediction products to unviersity and other customers.

The essay concludes by considering some of the potential costs of surveillance publishing, as other big commercial publishers increasingly enter the predictive-analytics business. It is likely, I argue, that windfall subscription-and-APC profits in Elsevier’s “legacy” publishing business have financed its decade-long acquisition binge in analytics.

The products’ purpose, moreover, is to streamline the top-down assessment and evaluation practices that have taken hold in recent decades. A final concern is that scholars will internalize an analytics mindset, one already encouraged by citation counts and impact factors.

URL : Surveillance Publishing


Transparency to hybrid open access through publisher-provided metadata: An article-level study of Elsevier

Authors : Najko Jahn, Lisa Matthias, Mikael Laakso

With the growth of open access (OA), the financial flows in scholarly journal publishing have become increasingly complex, but comprehensive data and transparency into these flows are still lacking.

The opaqueness is especially concerning for hybrid OA, where subscription-based journals publish individual articles as OA if an optional fee is paid. This study addresses the lack of transparency by leveraging Elsevier article metadata and provides the first publisher-level study of hybrid OA uptake and invoicing.

Our results show that Elsevier’s hybrid OA uptake has grown steadily but slowly from 2015-2019, doubling the number of hybrid OA articles published per year and increasing the share of OA articles in Elsevier’s hybrid journals from 2.6% to 3.7% of all articles.

Further, we find that most hybrid OA articles were invoiced directly to authors, followed by articles invoiced through agreements with research funders, institutions, or consortia, with only a few funding bodies driving hybrid OA uptake.

As such, our findings point to the role of publishing agreements and OA policies in hybrid OA publishing. Our results further demonstrate the value of publisher-provided metadata to improve the transparency in scholarly publishing by linking invoicing data to bibliometrics.


Swedish researchers’ responses to the cancellation of the big deal with Elsevier

Authors: Lisa Olsson, Camilla Lindelöw, Lovisa Österlund, Frida Jakobsson

In 2018, the Swedish library consortium, Bibsam, decided to cancel big deal subscriptions with Elsevier. Many researchers (n = 4,221) let their voices be heard in a survey on the consequences of the cancellation.

Almost a third of them (n = 1,241) chose to leave free-text responses to the survey question ‘Is there anything you would like to add?’. A content analysis on these responses resulted in six themes and from these, three main conclusions are drawn.

First, there is no consensus among researchers on whether the cancellation was for good or evil. The most common argument in favour of the cancellation was the principle. The most common argument against cancellation was that it harms researchers and research.

A third of the free-text responses expressed ambivalence towards the cancellation, typically as a conflict between wanting to change the current publishing system and simultaneously suffering from the consequences of the cancellation.

The general support for open access in principle reveals a flawed publishing system, as most feel the pressure to publish in prestigious journals behind paywalls in practice. Second, it was difficult for researchers to take a position for or against cancellation due to their limited knowledge of the ongoing work of higher education institutions and library consortia.

Finally, there are indications that the cancellation made researchers reflect on open access and to some extent alter their publication pattern through their choice of copyright licence and publication channel.

URL : Swedish researchers’ responses to the cancellation of the big deal with Elsevier