Researchers are paying more and more APC to publish!

October 26, 2022

Open APC

As part of the monitoring of the implementation of the Open Access decree of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, each institution must provide the amount of APC (Article Processing Charges) paid by its researchers. Since 2019, we also transmit this information to feed the data of the OpenAPC site.

€437,886, on average €1,780 per article!

In 2021, our researchers paid no less than €437,886 in APC for the publication of 246 articles in Open Access or hybrid journals, an average of €1,780 per article. Of these, a sum of €72,457 was devoted to the publication of articles in so-called "hybrid" journals, i.e. journals for which institutions must still pay a subscription, as not all articles are published in Open Access within them.

An increase of 58% since 2019!

There is therefore a worrying increase in APCs of 58% compared to the amounts paid in 2019 (€277,380.41€). Depending on the publishers and journals titles, the TVAC cost per article paid by our researchers can range from €165 to ... €4,800! 

Among the 51 publishers concerned, the top 5 for which our researchers paid in 2021 the highest APC amounts are: MDPI (81 articles; €124,260), Frontiers (34 articles; €79,510), Springer Nature-BMC (31 articles; €71,827), Elsevier (16 articles; €29,955) and Wiley (11 articles; €24,656).

The development of this "Unfair gold" model is therefore worrying, with the slope of increase of APCs added to the price of subscriptions also increasing. All this, to the benefit of a monopoly of publishers who take advantage of Open Access to multiply their profits. 

Alternatives and recommendations

It is quite possible to publish in Open Access without having to pay APC. 

Avoid at all costs the "Unfair Gold" and the trap of the hybrid model

When journals require APC (Open Access publication fees) from the author or his institution, it is strongly advised to stay within reasonable amounts and not to exceed the €750 fee ("Fair Gold"), the maximum amount granted by the F.R.S-FNRS for this type of publication.

Beyond 750€, it is " Unfair Gold ". The University of Liege is not in favor of this and has never been. This approach set up by the big publishing houses uses the advantages of Open Access to extort large sums of money from researchers and increase their profits at the expense of research.

To boycott at all costs, the trap of the hybrid model. Some commercial publishers who sell their journals under subscription may also propose to authors to pay a significant amount in order to make their articles available directly in Open Access. These publishers make it seem as if they are allowing researchers to benefit from the advantages of Open Access, but they are only multiplying their profits by combining these paying formulas with their subscriptions. 


Amount per publisher of APC paid by ULiège researchers in 2021 (source)

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