Greater visibility to APCs: amount, currency, URL

There has been a lot of focus in research on author processing charges (APCs) and submission charges, particularly in the last 16 months or so and DOAJ data is often used as a basis of that research.  Heather Morrison’s recent article in Publications and Walt Crawford’s research published in Cites and Insights are two very recent examples.

DOAJ wants to raise the visibility of charges information even further to facilitate future research and to make it easier for authors, researchers and funders to make informed decisions on where to publish. As part of our commitment to raising the level of quality of data in DOAJ, we released yesterday a small but important change to the display of charging information. All journals accepted into DOAJ after March 2014, or back into DOAJ after a successful reapplication, will have the following information displayed against them:

  • Does the journal have APCs or Submission charges?
  • If so, how much and what is the currency of those charges?
  • What is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?
  • If there are no charges, what is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?

During our review of applications we request that ‘no charges’ is stated explicitly on the journal’s site and we will ask publishers to add that information if they have not already done so.

You will find the new information on each journal’s table of contents page; that is to say the long, detailed view of all the information and metadata that we hold for a journal accessible by clicking a journal’s title in search results. Two examples would be here where the journal has no charges, or here where the journal has APCs.

There are further improvements in the pipeline: we will move the information above the [more detail] link on these pages; we will add charge information to all records in search results; we will include amount and currency in our downloadable CSV file; and we will point the Publication Charges facet in search to the new data. These changes are scheduled for completion in April.


6 thoughts on “Greater visibility to APCs: amount, currency, URL

  1. Great development which will help to create more of a ‘market’, where value of APC can be easily compared and therefore become part of the equation when choosing where to publish … and hopefully put downward price pressure on publishers.

    Couple of questions:
    1/ publisher’s APC prices change over time (eg to adjust for inflation), is there any plan to display the date that the price was gathered, or enable publishers to update these directly?

    2/ some journals have tiered APCs, depending on the content (eg short reports may have a lower APCs than full research papers as there is less work from the publisher). Do you intend to surface this ortjust take the highest value, or the value for the primary journal content?

    1. Hi Tom,

      1) Yes, once the reapplication system has been closed off, we will develop it out to a system that will allow publishers to update their own records. After an update, the record will be ‘re-submitted’ for our review and approval. We’re excited about this development as it’s going to increase the recency of the DOAJ dataset, as well as cut out some admin behind the scenes.

      2) We’ve been aware of tiered pricing for APCs for some time now but, in the current system, have no way of ingesting this data or displaying it. Part of the problem is that DOAJ is essentially built as a journal-level directory. However, we will need to display this information in the future and it is on our list of future developments. In the meantime—and as a work-around for these journals—we ask publishers to provide the highest APC as a service to potential authors: it’s always better to be charged less than you anticipated than more.


  2. DOAJ, Please Guide Us to Good Examples Showing APC

    Sorry, I do not get it. You ask us to follow your links. DOAJ, you claim to guide us to two good examples of “showing APC” and “not showing APC”, these:

    “here where the journal has no charges” (
    Journal: Czech Journal of Tourism
    Publisher: De Gruyter

    The DOAJ link shows:
    Author Processing Charges (APCs): No.
    Submission Charges: No.

    a) The link given for Author Processing Charges
    leads to general FAQ (not written for a specific journal, not even written exclusively for the publisher’s Open Access journals). We find under “6. How much does it cost to publish in our journals?” the text: “If you want to submit a manuscript to one of the journals available at De Gruyter Open, please visit the journal webpage and check if the journal charges publication fees.” (DOAJ, you specified the wrong link!)

    So I go to the journal webpage which is a mixture of English and German. There is nothing about APC on that page either.

    In the “Produkt-Flyer” ( again no information about APC.

    In “Instructions for Authors” ( again no information about APC.

    Under the Open Access button the text “Prices subject to change.” What prices? APC?

    b) The link given for Submission Charges
    is the same link as under a). No information is given about Submission Charges!

    “here where the journal has APCs” (
    Journal: Translational Oncology
    Publisher: Elsevier

    The DOAJ link shows:
    Author Processing Charges (APCs): Yes. 2200 USD.
    Submission Charges: No.

    a) The link given for Author Processing Charges
    has this text on a very, very long page under the heading “Open access (OA)”. (DOAJ, if you accept APC “clearly displayed and stated”, a HEADING SHOULD BE MORE MEANINGFUL with respect to APC!). The text is:

    “To provide open access, this journal has a publication fee which needs to be met by the authors or their research funders for each article published open access. Your publication choice will have no effect on the peer review process or acceptance of submitted articles. Page Charges & Reprints: There is a charge of $2,200 per article for up to 8 journal pages, plus $250 for each additional page. Payment must be made prior to publication. Reprints are also available for purchase.”

    Remarks to this very bad text example which in DOAJ’s view has APC “clearly displayed and stated”:
    * The publication fee has apparently only to be met “for each article published open access”, but as all issues of the journal are Open Access there seems to be no escape from publication fees. (“clearly stated”?)
    * The first sentence should be rewritten by Elsevier. I think Elsevier wants to tell us the journal is only Open Access, because funders want it that way (Elsevier does not like it). For this reason “a publication fee which needs to be met by the authors or their research funders” means, authors need to pay, because their funders want it this way. But, what does Elesvier know up front about the author’s funding? (“clearly stated”?)
    * “Your publication choice …”: Authors have no choice (see above)! (“clearly stated”?)
    * “Page Charges & Reprints”: Two things get mixed up here! Elsevier take the message appart! (“clearly stated”?)
    * “$2,200 per article for up to 8 journal pages”: DOAJ your entry about APC (2200 USD) is not complete!

    b) The link given for Submission Charges
    is the same link as under a). No information is given explicitly about Submission Charges!

    There is this hypocritical attempt to white list well established journals and publishers. Here these two candidates self published claims: “Elsevier is a world-leading provider of …”; De Gruyter: “history of over 260 years … more than 700 subscription based or Open Access journals”. With all this, they can not even make a clear and simple statement about APC!

  3. Insufficient Data in the DOAJ (e.g. to Check the DOAJ Seal Awarded to a Journal)

    It is very good that full information given by applicants about APC will now be made available in the DOAJ. This however, does not mean all available data would now go online. This is explained here starting with the example of the DOAJ Seal.

    DOAJ promotes best practice in Open Access publishing with the DOAJ Seal for Open Access journals. The qualifiers for the Seal highlight features related to the openness, indexability and discoverability of the journal. “A journal cannot apply for the Seal. The Seal will be awarded to a journal by the DOAJ Editorial staff depending on the information provided in the application form.” (

    The DOAJ Seal will be given to a journal if it has these six qualifiers:
    1. Has an archival arrangement (e.g. Portico).
    2. Has a permanent identifier (e.g. DOI).
    3. Provides article level metadata to DOAJ. If the journal fails to provide metadata within 3 months, the journal will not qualify for the Seal.
    4. Has embed machine-readable CC licensing information in its article level metadata.
    5. Has CC BY, CC BY-SA, or CC BY-NC.
    6. Has a deposit policy registered (e.g. SHERPA/Romeo).

    The DOAJ Seal was introduced with the new application form (, but as of today, the DOAJ Seal is not used in the database. It is only put up as a remark in the file “DOAJ: journals added and removed” (

    In theory, it should be a straight forward check for everyone to find out, if a particular journal (included new after 2014-03-19 or included based on reapplication into the DOAJ) qualifies for the DOAJ Seal or not, based on the data given in the DOAJ.

    This is check however is not that easy:
    a. Following the logic of qualifier 3., a journal can be in the DOAJ, but is still preparing to deliver metadata to DOAJ. Therefore, it will not have a seal. If the metadata is not delivered after 3 month, the journal will never get the DOAJ Seal – unless maybe it reapplies voluntarily.
    b. Data for a qualifier may not be included in the DOAJ. In this case, the logic is generally this: If a qualifier is not given in the database, the applicant has not given the information (e.g. about archiving 1.) and it must be assumed that the qualifier is not met (e.g. no archival arrangement is in place).
    c. The logic from b. is not applied in the DOAJ in case of the qualifier 4. “machine-readable CC licensing information”. This information is coming from question 45 in the application form, which is marked with a red star (*). The means every applicant will have answered the question, but the result is not given in the DOAJ – even for journals that have machine-readable CC licensing information in their HTML source code!

    DOAJ should include also the answer to question 45 about “machine-readable CC licensing information” and question 46 “URL to an example page with embedded licensing information” into the DOAJ. If not, the award of the DOAJ Seal would lack transparency (or would at least be very cumbersome, if everyone checking on the Seal would need to go to the journal’s HTML source code in order to find out).

    There are more questions from the new application form asking for useful information (without requirements to be hidden), but nevertheless the information does not make it into the DOAJ (according to my investigation). These are the QUESTIONS WITHOUT DATA in the DOAJ:

    23) Does the journal have a waiver policy (for developing country authors etc)? *
    24) Enter the URL where this information can be found *
    27) Does the journal allow anyone to crawl the full-text of the journal? *
    49) Enter the URL on your site where your license terms are stated

    and as stated already above:
    45) Does the journal embed or display simple machine-readable CC licensing information in its articles? *
    46) Please provide a URL to an example page with embedded licensing information *

    Applicant’s answers to at least 5 compulsory questions and one voluntary question are NOT copied into the DOAJ. This is especially bad as it makes the DOAJ Seal award nontransparent.

      1. Data Items Visible and Invisible – Data Items Compulsory and Voluntary

        Thanks, it is good to know your project due end of April will surface the new dataset. To clarify this a little:

        The “old dataset” is the legacy data from all those journals due to reapply eventually.

        The “new dataset” is from all those journals included new after 2014-03-19 or included based on reapplication into the DOAJ; i.e. from all those journals that have answered questions from the new application form.

        The “post from last year” (“A few notes about our legacy data”; strictly only explains what will be done to the data item “APC”: “One such piece of information was the author processing charge (APC). … we took the opportunity, when we were designing the new application form, to raise the visibility of this information, require it on application and make it a compulsory question. … All the new journals applying for inclusion after March 19th 2014 have already answered this question.”

        a) Migrating old data onto the new data structure has nothing to do with NOT showing new data items in the new structure.

        b) Also in the DOAJ we can now see the “new dataset” contains many data items from the new application form (if the journal has something positive to offer for that data item). Amazing is only that the “new dataset” does NOT contain ALL of the data items (as I explained in my comment above).

        c) Maybe a hint comes from “Encouraging OA-publishers to do a better job: how DOAJ tries to help out” (Presentation at the STM event Beyond Open Access, London Dec 5th 2014, Slide 38):
        What comes next? … Spring 2015 (probably: “end April”; see above):
        – All information provided will be publicly available
        • Searchable
        • Computable (API)
        – OpenURL

        It would make sense if some data items are finally NOT shown.

        a) DOAJ will not show e-mail addresses (10, 11, 57, 58)

        b) Furthermore, I would expect these items will not be shown:
        9) Name of contact for this journal
        56) Your name [applicants name]

        c) Two additional items will be shown:
        The “tick” to mark a new data item (already in action)
        The DOAJ Seal (if awarded)

        DOAJ is now collecting data in the new dataset. It is clear that for the protection of personal data not everything collected can be made public. But besides this, it is hard to understand why a newly established dataset can not be displayed in its entirety.

        The database would be easier to read, if also items would be shown even if no supporting information was entered. E.g. show also the answer to “25) What digital archiving policy does the journal use?” even if the answer is “No policy in place”, because also this is an answer.

        a) A red star (for “compulsory question”) seems to be missing at question 31 (or no substantiation is necessary for ‘article download statistics’).
        b) A red star seems to be missing at question 49 (or no substantiation is necessary for ‘license terms’).
        c) If 31 and 49 are made compulsory, this would leave only 3, 7, 8, and 48 as voluntary questions (which would make sense).
        d) The red stars on 4 AND 5 seems to imply that both ISSNs (print AND online) are necessary. Is this intended?
        e) An explanation for the red star is missing in the application form, but this may be part of the test to weed out questionable publishers: “The fact that an application cannot be submitted unless you are able to properly fill in the application form is already filtering out many questionable publishers.” (Slide 34 from

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