Open Access Journals, Article Processing Charges and Market Structures

Brafferton Indian School Exhibit, February 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of W&M Libraries/Flickr.
Brafferton Indian School Exhibit, February 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of W&M Libraries/Flickr.

On January 24, 2019, Dan Pollock and Ann Michael have published an article entitled “Open access mythbusting: Testing two prevailing assumptions about the effects of open access adoption” in Learned Publishing.

A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.


In their paper, Dan Pollock and Ann Michael have looked into the empirical validity of prevailing assumptions concerning Open Access (OA), such as about journal competitiveness. For their study, these authors have deployed “citation‐based impact scores [in conjunction] with data from publishers’ price lists” (7). The relationships that were investigated were those “between business model, price, and ‘quality’ across several thousands of journals” (7).  Pollock and Michael have “found no evidence suggesting that OA journals suffer significant quality issues compared with non‐OA journals” (7-8). Additionally, according to these researchers, article “authors do not appear to ‘shop around’ [between different OA journals] based on OA [article processing] price[s]” (7).

Moreover, the findings of this research also indicate that “[a]n increasing number of fully OA publications are attaining higher Journal Impact Factors at faster rates than their subscription and hybrid counterparts” (8). In relation to article processing charges (APCs), Pollock and Michael, likewise, add that “APCs for fully OA journals are slightly more price-sensitive than for hybrid journals but still show only a weak relationship between APC and impact” (8). These authors also take into account the market structure of the Open Access, since, as they suggest, “[w]hen numbers of papers published are […] [controlled for], megajournals [have been found to] influence the fully OA market and [to] show a mild price sensitivity when included; if their influence is excluded, price sensitivity remains very low” (8).

In their article, these scholars have also shown that “[t]he proportion of fully OA journals in the [impact factor] index is growing over time, but the proportion of higher-performing fully OA journals is growing even faster” (8). Pollock and Michael have indicated that “[t]he single biggest predictor of price appears to be the journal business model: fully OA journals cluster around the cheaper end of the [price level] spectrum, [while] hybrid [OA journals tend to be among] the more expensive [ones]” (11), while the “relationship between price and measures of [journal] impact […] remains weak” (11).

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Brafferton Indian School Exhibit, February 18, 2011 | © Courtesy of W&M Libraries/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Open Access Journals, Article Processing Charges and Market Structures," in Open Access Blog, 14/06/2019, https://oab.hypotheses.org/874.

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