On the effectiveness of APCs. 3rd ESAC Workshop 2018 – ESAC. June 28-29, 2018
The first Efficiencies and Standards for Article Charges (ESAC) workshop in 2016 produced a “Joint understanding of offsetting” drafted by workshop participants which prescribed that offsetting pilots should lead to pay-as-you-publish models. The aim was to achieve a scenario in which institutions would pay for their actual article output instead of purchasing fixed article packages, which, along with persisting access-based fees, characterize most of the current agreements. It was posited that as offsetting deals unbundled article charges, APC price levels would subsequently be differentiated to reflect production costs, impact and services offered by a given journal. Two years on, more evidence is available: Data provided by the Open APC initiative allows for benchmarking of hybrid price points against expenditures for pure open access publishing, showing that the latter operate on substantially lower APC levels. At the same time, it is not yet fully clear how a journal’s APC actually relates to its impact, brand or popularity within a community. Institutions and consortia who manage publication charges on behalf of their authors need to gain a clearer understanding of pricing mechanisms as well as develop their own goals in this respect, in order to progress towards a sustainable and transparent APC market. To this end, the 3rd ESAC workshop in Munich was especially dedicated to this topic. Presentations on bibliometric and publication data analyses stimulated the dialogue among institutions and consortia negotiating open access based agreements.