On the effectiveness of APCs – outcomes of the 3rd ESAC workshop, Munich

Thanks to the great support from the workshop participants, the ESAC Initiative is happy to publish the final report of the 3rd ESAC workshop held in Munich last month, “On the effectiveness of APCs”: http://esac-initiative.org/activities/3rd-esac-workshop-munich-28-29-june-2018/

While a significant portion of open access journals operate on independent funding mechanisms, the Article Processing Charge (APC), originally pioneered by BioMed Central as a means to secure the financial viability of journals, has grown to be one of the most prevalent business models in open access publishing, adopted by well-established pure open access publishers such as PLoS, MDPI, Hindawi, Frontiers and beyond. With the steady growth of open access publishing in recent years, particularly by traditional subscription publishers via hybrid article publishing options, born-OA journals such as Nature Communications and Scientific Reports, and transformative agreements (ie offsetting, publish and read, etc.) the need for close monitoring and control of processes, standards and workflows related to Article Processing Charges (APCs) has become crucial. Through such work academic and research libraries have the opportunity and, indeed, the responsibility to exercise oversight and management of APCs to ensure the best interests of their researchers and institutions are served.

The Efficiencies and Standards for Article Charges (ESAC) Initiative was established to offer libraries who currently have ownership of APC workflows a forum to share best practice and offer recommendations for the broader community.

This year, the ESAC Initiative hosted a workshop to analyze data gathered on APCs, identify the factors that may or may not contribute to price levels, and discuss how institutions may develop their own criteria for assessment in order to steer a course towards a sustainable and transparent publishing market. Participants of the workshop included librarians and consortium representatives from 13 countries in Europe and the US, all directly involved in data analytics and open access publishing workflows, and the workshop report outlines the participants’ common understanding of current APC pricing as well as strategies to mitigate the potential risks associated with the APC-based publishing business model. We hope the report will prove useful to libraries and consortia who are currently manage or who are considering managing open access publishing workflows in pure gold open access journals, hybrid journals and transformative agreements.

Previous ESAC Initiative workshops have produced the following resources:

Joint Understanding of Offsetting


Recommendations for article workflows and services for transformative agreements