Presentation Open Access

Inequities of Article Processing Charges: How the Oligopoly of Academic Publishers Profits from Open Access

Haustein, Stefanie; Butler, Leigh-Ann

Public lecture at the Knowledge Equity and Justice Spring Seminar, 17 May 2022, organized by Stacy Allison-Cassin and SPARC

Since the early 2010s, more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles have been published by the so-called oligopoly of academic publishers: Elsevier, SAGE, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. These companies make immense profits from publishing scholarly journals, traditionally through subscriptions from academic libraries, the reader pays model. With more and more libraries cancelling so-called ‘Big Deals’, these publishers have expanded their revenues by making authors pay article processing charges (APCs) for open access (OA) publishing. The author-pays model creates inequities and barriers that exclude many from publishing, such as underrepresented groups or researchers from less-resourced countries. This presentation demonstrates the growth of gold and hybrid OA articles published in oligopoly journals indexed in the Web of Science and provides evidence of the amount of APCs paid in Canada and globally. It highlights the inequities of the author-pays model and discusses alternative routes to OA.

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