Why price transparency in research publishing is a positive step | Hindawi

“In 2019, Hindawi took part in the price transparency framework pilot run by Information Power on behalf of cOAlition S. Three years later and the coalition’s new Journal Comparison Service (JCS) is up and running. Hindawi is proud to be one of the publishers that has contributed data to this service. Taking part has helped us focus on the rigour of our own reporting system and has enabled us to give researchers greater choice when choosing a journal by giving more visibility to our services in our new and publicly available journal reports.

Only a few publishers took part in the pilot and the framework remains untested. It’s not yet clear how useful the JCS will be to the institutions who might want to access the service and use the data, or how the JCS will increase transparency about costs as well as pricing across the publishing industry more generally. In part, this is because it’s seen by some to provide an overly simplistic view of publishing. Compartmentalising publishing services into seven or eight different categories  (see page 20 of the JCS guidance for publishers) inevitably constrains the many different and often overlapping services that publishers provide. In addition, limiting the price breakdown of these services into the percentage that each contributes to a journal’s APC also means that the real costs aren’t visible. There are also pragmatic reasons that make it very difficult for some publishers to collect data consistently, especially for those with large portfolios that operate on multiple platforms or have journal-specific workflows. Finally, fully open-access publishers who don’t have an APC business model can’t take part, even if they want to be more transparent. However, we believe the upsides are large. Hindawi has more than 200 journals in our portfolio and the following outlines a few of the ways we, and we hope those who contribute to and access our journals, are benefiting. Our focus is on the ‘Information Power’ framework for the JCS and on the ‘Journal Quality’ information specifically (columns P-Z in the template spreadsheet). This information relates to data on the journal workflow, especially peer review (such as timings and the no of reviewers involved). We know that there is a long way to go to make all publishing services transparent, but we are learning from our participation in the JCS and will continue to explore ways to improve transparency….”

Elsevier absent from journal cost comparison | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Of the 2,070 titles whose information will become accessible under the JCS, although not directly to researchers, 1,000 belong to the US academic publishing giant Wiley, while another 219 journals owned by Hindawi, which was bought by Wiley last year, also appear on the list.

Several other fully open access publishers will also participate on the comparison site including Plos, the Open Library of Humanities, and F1000, while learned society presses and university publishers, including the Royal Society, Rockefeller University Press, and the International Union of Crystallography, are also part of the scheme.

Other notable participants include the prestigious life sciences publisher eLife, EMBO Press and the rapidly growing open access publisher, Frontiers.

However, the two of the world’s largest scholarly publishers – Elsevier and Springer Nature, whose most prestigious titles charge about £8,000 for APCs – are not part of the scheme….

Under the Plan S agreement, scholarly journals are obliged to become ‘transformative journals’ and gradually increase the proportion of non-paywalled content over a number of years. Those titles that do not make their papers free at the point of publication will drop out of the Plan S scheme, meaning authors cannot use funds provided by any of the 17 funding agencies and six foundations now signed up to Plan S. There are, however, no immediate consequences for a publisher who decides not to share their price and service data through the JCS.  …”

Plan S’ Journal Comparison Service – guidance and practical input – OASPA | October 10, 2022

“The end-user portal of cOAlition S’ Journal Comparison Service (JCS) launched on 28th September and is now live.  Publishers are being invited by Plan S to populate their transparency data* into the JCS. The JCS is a secure, free, online service aiming to enable those who procure publishing services to better understand what they are paying for. It also represents a way for publishers to achieve greater transparency on their services and related pricing….”

Journal transparency – the new Journal Comparison Service from PlanS | Maverick Publishing Specialists

“At a recent STM Association webinar, Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at the Wellcome Trust, presented an informative overview of the new Journal Comparison Service from PlanS. He stated that the goal of this new tool is to meet the needs of the research community who “have called for greater transparency regarding the services publishers provide and the fees they charge. Many publishers are willing to be responsive to this need, but until now there was no standardised or secure way for publishers to share this information with their customers.” Publishers of scholarly journals are invited to upload data on their journals – one data set for each journal. The cOAlition S Publisher’s Guide  points out that the data is all information that publishers already have in some form, and it will need to be uploaded every year for the previous year.

There are two versions of data that can be supplied and I took a look at the version developed by Information Power (see https://www.coalition-s.org/journal-comparison-service-resources-publishers/ for the details and an FAQ). There are 34 fields, including basic journal identifiers plus additional information in three broad categories: prices (APC data; subscription prices plus discount policies); editorial data (acceptance rates, peer review times, Counter 5 data); and costs (price and service information)….

As a previous publisher of a portfolio of journals, I know that allocating these kinds of costs back to a specific journal is at best a guesstimate and very unlikely to be accurate and comparable.

The webinar included a contribution from Rod Cookson, CEO of International Water Association (IWA) Publishing.  Rod has been an advocate for transparency and helped to create the tool kit for publishers who want to negotiate transformative agreements (https://www.alpsp.org/OA-agreements). Rod reported that it had taken 6 people 2-3 months to gather the data to complete the 34 fields in the comparison tool.  IWA Publishing publishes 14 journals….”


Plan S Journal Comparison Service: open for publishers to register and deposit price and service data | Plan S

cOAlition S is excited to release today the Journal Comparison Service (JCS), a secure, free and long-anticipated digital service, that aims to shed light on publishing fees and services.

Starting from today, publishers can register with the JCS publisher portal. After signing a service agreement, publishers can share information, at journal level, highlighting the services they provide and the prices they charge in line with one of the Plan S approved price and service transparency frameworks. These data are then made available to librarians via a secure online system.  Examples of data that will be made available through the service include information about the publication frequency, the peer review process, times from submission to acceptance, the range of list prices for APCs, subscription prices, and how the price is allocated over a defined set of services.