Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges
2. Materials and Methods
- Web of Science (Wos): the Web of Science database hosted by the competence centre for bibliometrics is used to determine the publication output for all German universities. Although WoS is not exhaustive, and it is known for a selective coverage and for various biases [25,26], the advantage of this version of the database is that it is enriched with disambiguated institutional addresses for German institutions [27,28]. This allows us to precisely identify the publication output of research institutions in that source. An exhaustive list of German universities was compiled, and all author-address combinations for the document types ‘article’ and ‘review’ with at least one address from a German university were retrieved from the database. This information also includes the identifier of the institution, corresponding author information, first author information publication identifier (DOI and WoS-Identifer), article title, publication year, publication type, number of authors and identifiers of the serial (ISSN). Information on whether or not the university contributes to OpenAPC was added. Since the study is interested in an estimation of APC payments, and the institution of the corresponding author is usually supposed to cover the costs, the publications were fully attributed to the university of the corresponding author.
- ISSN-Gold-OA-list: Publications in full OA journals were identified for the entire publication output of German universities covered by WoS. The ISSN-Gold-OA-List (in its version 4.0, of 13 July 2020) was used as a source of evidence for publications in full OA journals . It aggregates different lists of full OA journals, including the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), PubMedCentral (PMC), the Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources (ROAD) and full OA journals that appear in OpenAPC. After aggregation, the subsection of full OA journals covered both by WoS and the ISSN-Gold-OA-list is manually controlled as to whether or not they offer open access to all content.
- OpenAPC: OpenAPC is used as a source for payment data. For the group of the 41 German OpenAPC universities, operationalized as universities that started contributing to OpenAPC at the latest in 2018 and provided data to the monitoring system for the entire year of 2019, payment data were harvested from OpenAPC on 28 August 2020. In addition, OpenAPC was used as a source for an estimation of payments that are not recorded in the system. For each publication identified as a publication in a full OA journal, it was investigated whether or not an APC payment for a publication in the same journal is recorded in OpenAPC. The average APC for articles published in 2019 in the same journal was used as the best estimation for the cost of a likely APC-liable publication. In cases where OpenAPC does not provide any payment data for a particular journal in 2018 and 2019 but only for older years, the most recent payment was considered as the best estimation. For the group of the non-OpenAPC universities, i.e., the 45 universities that did not contribute with payment information to OpenAPC in the years 2018 to 2019, likely APC-liable publications were identified and payment information was estimated with the same method as described for OpenAPC universities.
- First, it aims to indirectly identify likely liable publications in the two groups of universities, by identifying other publications in the same journal where APC have been paid for. Given that journals may change their business model (flip to APC as well as reverse flip to subscription ), there might be cases where publications are falsely classified as APC-liable.
- Second, there might be APC-liable publications in journals within the two blind spots of the monitoring system, where no payments for other publications in the same journal were recorded in OpenAPC. Although the monitoring system provides APC payment information for 2411 full OA journals, there might be APC journals that are not covered in this data base. For this reason, the number of likely APC-liable publications might be too small. As a result of the first two limitations, it cannot be decided whether the identified number of APC-liable publications is more a minimum or a maximum estimation for the actual number of APC-liable publications.
- Third, the estimation of costs for likely APC-liable publications is based on payments for other publications in the same journal, for which one or more payments have been recorded. Given that payments may differ, for example, because of changes in the pricing for APC , or discounts and waivers included in contracts between publishers and universities, the estimated APC-prices are approximations.
- Fourth, the identification of possible liable publications was performed on a certain part of the publication output of a university which is covered by the Web of Science. The calculation of a correction factor therefore has to be regarded as a rough approximation for the volume of possibly not covered APC-liable publications outside the scope of the WoS database.
- Fifth, the design of the study only allows us to estimate APC-liable publications of a certain OA type, publications in full OA journals, but not other types like publications in hybrid journals. Moreover, it does not take so-called transformative agreements into account that are negotiated by different initiatives in a number of European countries . Given that it is likely that transformative agreements will not be negotiated with all publishing houses, and given that not all countries may follow the path of such OA transformation, the results of the study will remain relevant in the future.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|University||Pub. in OAPC||APC. in OAPC |
|Likely APC-Liable Pub.||Estim. Payment |
|Sum Costs |
|Estim. Payment (%)|
|University||Likely APC-Liable Pub.||Est. Payments |
|UK Gießen und Marburg||44||87,147|
|TU Bergakademie Freiberg||29||50,023|
|Jacobs University Bremen||25||37,530|
|U. Eichstät -Ingolstadt||11||20,220|
|U. der BW München||6||12,152|
|U. der BW Hamburg||5||7716|
|HS für Musik Hannover||3||5469|
|Otto Beisheim School of Mana.||2||1730|
|Comprehensive Cancer Center||1||2092|
|PH Schwäbisch Gmünd||1||1746|
|Hertie School of Governance||1||3128|
|HafenCity Universität Hamburg||1||1088|
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Bruns, A.; Taubert, N. Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges. Publications 2021, 9, 41. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9030041
Bruns A, Taubert N. Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges. Publications. 2021; 9(3):41. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9030041Chicago/Turabian Style
Bruns, Andre, and Niels Taubert. 2021. "Investigating the Blind Spot of a Monitoring System for Article Processing Charges" Publications 9, no. 3: 41. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9030041