AAS Open Research

Price Transparency on AAS Open Research

In this blog post Michael Markie, Publishing Director at F1000 Research, outlines the upcoming adjustments to the pricing structure on AAS Open Research and highlights the price and service transparency of the platform and how this aligns with the Plan S principles.   

Last month, F1000 Research rolled out a new pricing structure complete with price transparency for its platform. As the African Academy of Sciences is a cOAlition S endorser, we wanted to ensure that that African Academy of Sciences (AASOR) make its pricing structure transparent. So, we are announcing our new pricing and service framework for AASOR, which seeks to establish more fair and representative pricing across all academic subject areas funded by the AAS while providing full transparency on what those prices comprise of. 

We have subsequently combined this work with the article processing charge (APC) transparency requirements necessary for Plan S compliance.

2020 marks 2.5 years of publication for AASOR, and over this time the platform has grown in popularity and size, along with publishing research across the full range of academic subject areas the AAS supports. F1000 Research have analysed the publications on AASOR to determine if the word count pricing structure is representative for all the published content to date. We particularly wanted to see if there was a bias towards the cost of articles in different subject areas that the AESA program funds. Subject areas like the Physical Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences typically produce articles that are longer, so we also wanted to see if the editorial service we were providing aligned with the cost of publishing article in these areas. The results of this analysis showed that there was room for improvement, and we think the new pricing structure described below better represents the actual costs of publishing works across all academic subjects and better represents the editorial service that is required.  

Pricing structure: past and future

APC fees on AASOR were previously based on article length, on the principle that, in general, shorter articles typically have less data associated with them and should therefore be simpler to conduct the pre-publication checks and be quicker and easier to get peer reviewed compared with longer, full-length research articles.

During the 2.5 years of running this pricing model, we have learned several things. Firstly, researchers rarely publish single figure findings. Secondly, when they do, they are often associated with equally significant research data, meaning that they take no less effort to conduct the pre-publication checks, and are no easier to get peer reviewed.

Also, we found that articles that were published with over 8,000 words were typically outside medical and health subject areas where it is more common for authors to write longer articles; we concluded that these articles did not generally require editorial service that warranted the 1550 GBP price mark.

In short, the logic for basing APCs on word count did not adequately represent the editorial service we provide nor was it consistent with the costs associated with those subject areas that typically have longer articles.

Introducing Article Type Pricing

The way we structure the pricing has now changed from word count bands to article types. To aid the development of this new pricing structure, we analysed the editorial service we provide for each of the article types that we support. From that analysis, we have created three price categories for our new article type pricing structure. These categories are based on:

•            article types that are quicker and simpler to check prior to publication

•            article types that are easier to support the authors in the sharing of the underlying data

•            article types that are easier to obtain peer reviews for

Figure 1. New AAS Open Research pricing structure and price transparency

This new pricing will come into effect for all submissions to AASOR from 1st October 2020. The AAS through the AESA program will continue to cover the cost for all article fees centrally.

Price Transparency

This page shows full price transparency breakdown for each of the new article type categories used at AASOR, together with full explanation of the expenditure breakdown in terms of the services provided.  The information provided here adheres to the cOAlition S-approved Price Transparency framework developed by Information Power.