Percentage of OA articles involving APCs

Heather Morrison recently posted “Which subjects are most likely to charge article processing charges?” at Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.  It’s an interesting post, and since my own (non-sampled, all journals in DOAJ  as of May 2014 that I was able to evaluate as a English-speaker, 6,490 of them that actually have articles available) in-depth study won’t be out (as an issue of Library Technology Reports; the anonymized data is available here) until this summer, I thought I’d add my own figures.

Except that, the more I work with the data, the more I feel that the most relevant figures really aren’t what percentage of OA journals charge APCs (something over a third, but definitely a minority overall) but what percentage of OA articles appear in journals that charge APCs (a majority overall, but not in the humanities and social sciences).

So here are two quick tables, the first covering the set of 29 topic groups (two of which aren’t really topics) and 2013 articles, the second covering 23 of the 29 and 2014 articles (I haven’t quite finished revisiting 2014 article counts). Both tables are in descending order by percentage of articles that appeared in journals that clearly charge APCs. (There are some journals where it’s just not clear, but those journals only represent 2%-3% of articles.) (The two non-topics are “mega”–four multidisciplinary journals publishing more than 1,000 articles per year–and “miscellany,” journals that didn’t fit into one of the other slots.)

Table 1: Percentage of 2013 articles appearing in APC-charging journals, all topics

Topic 2013
Mega 100%
Biology 74%
Computer science 72%
Ecology 70%
Chemistry 68%
Engineering 68%
Physics 68%
Mathematics 60%
Other Sciences 60%
Medicine 58%
Earth Sciences 54%
Religion 53%
Agriculture 53%
Zoology 47%
Miscellany 47%
Economics 47%
Technology 46%
Psychology 44%
Sociology 35%
Language & Literature 26%
Media & Communications 24%
Education 19%
Anthropology 16%
Political Science 15%
Arts & Architecture 15%
Philosophy 10%
Law 7%
Library Science 4%
History 2%

And here’s the partial table, for all of 2014 (note: this is newer data than in the published report):

Topic 2014
Mega 100%
Biology 80%
Computer science 75%
Physics 72%
Engineering 70%
Chemistry 70%
Ecology 68%
Medicine 65%
Other Sciences 64%
Mathematics 61%
Earth Sciences 54%
Agriculture 54%
Economics 46%
Miscellany 40%
Media & Communications 37%
Language & Literature 28%
Anthropology 22%
Education 19%
Arts & Architecture 17%
Law 12%
Philosophy 11%
Library Science 4%
History 2%

In case it’s not obvious (and it probably isn’t), the missing seven are the last alphabetically, from Psychology through Zoology.

These figures can’t be directly compared to Morrison’s because of different assumptions and different subject groupings (and because I’m looking at articles rather than journals), but they may provide an additional point.

Additional Note, added 5/7/15

Heather Morrison attempted to post a comment on this, including multiple links–which caused it to be treated as spam. Rather than post the comment here, given that I’ve added a significant comment to her comment, I’ll link you back to the comment at her post. (If that sounds complicated, just go look.)

Completion Note, added 5/17/15

The full table for 2014 is now available here, along with the overall total showing more than 10% growth in OA articles from 2013 to 2014–to just under 408,000 in 2014 (which may still be 10%-18% low).

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