Gold OA: how much will it cost us?

As the administrator of our institutions Wellcome Trust open access grant it’s that time of year when we have to prepare a report on last years spend on open access publication charges.

Given that the recent RCUK OA policy has a strong steer towards Gold OA it gives us a chance to look at some real facts and figures at what this policy change could cost for a research intensive institution.

Looking at the basic figures for last year we spent approximately £170,000 on 100 articles published in 75 different journals, working out at an average cost of £1700 per paper.

Extrapolating upwards the University of Edinburgh publishes in the region of 4000 peer reviewed journal articles per year – this figure does not include other publication types like conference papers not affected by the RCUK policy. Assuming an average Article Processing Charge (APC) of £1500 (more in line with other institutions) the total publication costs will be in the region of £6M. It is clear that even with guaranteed funding from HEFCE large research intensive universities will not be able to pay for all of their research to be published under Gold OA. How to allocate funding to researchers will be a difficult choice that many institutions are currently asking themselves – will it be on a first come first served basis, funder specific, or will REF submitted material take priority?

A more detailed analysis of Gold OA costs from the past 5 years is being written up for publication in a forthcoming article of Ariadne. Here is a taste of some of the data we will be looking at:

Price range JIF Range JIF Mean JIF Median Number of articles* Type
£0-£999 2.263 – 10.472 4.849 4.537 41 44% hybrid 56% full OA
£1000-£1999 0.856 -15.389 6.328 5.117 108 63% hybrid 37% full OA
£2000-£2999 0.986 – 12.594 4.411 3.441 61 100% hybrid
< £3000 5.971 – 15.710 12.363 10.881 17 100% hybrid

Table.1: The range of journal impact factors and mean/median values for the 4 main prices ranges (*discounting 3 journals which were not allocated a JIF in the Journal Citation Report). Journals with high impact factors seem to charge significantly more than other types of journal for gold open access