Transparency and Costs of Publication Fees in Croatian Scholarly Journals
Studies show increase in article processing charges or publishing fees (hereinafter charges) and there are many debates on relations between academic community, publishing issues and open access initiatives. Recent study showed that introduction or increase of APCs did not reduce article volumes, moreover, higher APCs at commercial publishers were associated with volume increase. Authors are not price sensitive and are willing to pay for higher APCs if it means being published in prestigious journal (1-2). It is recommended that any charges should be easily accessible to potential author. Journals, having transparent policy on charges, show high quality editorial policy, which helps them distinguish from predatory journals. Authors are informed about costs and can avoid difficulties in the future (3). The main aim of this study is to determine the policy, transparency and costs charges in Croatian scholarly journals indexed in Web of Science Core Collection or Scopus.
Croatian scholarly journals indexed in WoSCC and Scopus in 2018 were included in the study. Most of them are available on Croatian national publishing platform, so both journal’s webpages and Hrčak portal were reviewed for information about any charges and its transparency. The research was conducted in April, May and June 2019. Four categories of journals were established: journals charging fees; journals possibly requiring some form of payment, usually related to exceeding the maximum length of the manuscript and/or if the submitted manuscript needs additional proofreading and journals whose policy is not always clearly stated and may require additional payment; journals that don’t require any payment; and journals that don’t have any information about charges.
Results and Discussion
Great number of journals are freely accessible, but they do charge printed editions, usually separating domestic and international subscribers, and annual and issue purchase. They are usually published by non-profit organizations funded by the state: faculties, scientific institutes and associations. There are 13 journals that charge fees; two in biomedicine, eight in technical sciences, two in social sciences, and one in nature sciences. All of them are in OA and supported by the Ministry, except for one published by the company. Other are published by professional societies (4), faculties (7), NGO (1). The average price of charges is 414 €, the lowest being 25€ and the highest is 750€. Some journals charge for exceeding pages. The charges are mentioned in guidelines to authors or on main web page. There are 12 journals that might have some payment requirement; five in biomedicine, one in biotechnical sciences, one in nature sciences, two in technical, one in social sciences and two in humanities. These requirements are stated in guidelines to authors (11) or in editorial policies (1). All these journals are available in open access, usually with some CC licence and almost all of them, ten, are funded by the Ministry. Possible requirements refer to translation or proofreading costs, exceeding in page number, major corrections before printing or retractions. One journal requires paying donations for publishing manuscript and additional donations for printing additional pages and printing in color, and with one journal it is unclear whether authors must or can opt to buy offprints. There is an increase in number of journals charging fees; in 2013 there were three, in 2017 eight and seven with conditioned paying. There are 76 journals stating that they don’t charge fees; this information is usually found on Hrčak page or in guidelines for authors, which is in accordance to international standards. Still, there are 61 journals that don’t have information on charging. However, regarding previous studies, number of journals stating information on charges has grown, which may indicate awareness on transparency of charges (3-4).
The increase in number of journals charging fees is likely to increase due to dependence on national funding, continuous growth in journals charging fees, especially when journal reaches international recognition.