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Friday, June 19, 2009

Comparing author-side fees at OA and TA journals

Bill Hooker, Author-side fee comparison: OA vs TA, Open Reading Frame, June 18, 2009.  Excerpt:

I've posted a couple of times about the misconception that all OA journals charge author-side fees, and each time I've mentioned the Kaufman-Wills study which found that 75% of the toll-access journals they examined charged author-side fees in addition to subscription charges. I thought it would be useful to compare author-side fees charged by OA and TA journals.

It's easy to work out what OA and hybrid journals charge; BMC maintains a detailed list of publisher article processing charges.... 

What is much more difficult to determine is how much the average author is paying in author-side fees at toll-access journals, because the charge for a given article depends on number of pages and/or color figures, and in some cases also on whether supplementary information is included.

Below are a few examples; in each case for which I calculated a figure, I extracted the page and figure counts manually from a single issue. This is far too small a sample to be representative, but I'm just trying to get some kind of feel for the numbers. Further, the published figures I managed to find (indicated by footnotes) are consistent with my "calculated guesses". Also, the NIH estimates (scroll to section L) that it spends "over $30 million annually in direct costs for publication and other page charges" and produces "roughly 50,000 - 70,000 manuscripts", which means that the NIH is paying, on average, about $500/article in page charges. If around 8% of all new articles are Gold OA, that number goes up to about $543/article. If the Kaufman-Wills 75% figure is representative, then the average author-side fee being charged is $666/article, or $724/article if the %OA is taken into account. (Note that the %OA adjustment might be spurious because we don't know how much of the estimated $30 million is going to Gold OA fees.) ... [PS: Here omitting the actual  numbers.]

Update (6/21/09).  See Bill's update of this calculation.