Improvements needed in APC processes, says report

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Work is required to improve the ways that article processing charges (APCs) are managed and paid, according to a new report from the UK Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG).

The OAIG's 'The Potential Role for Intermediaries in Managing the Payment of Open Access Article Processing Charges' report, commissioned in response to the Finch report and funder policies, examines how intermediaries could help manage the impact that an increase in the volumes of open-access APCs could have for universities, funders and publishers.

According to the report, the important elements to create an efficient and effective gold open access market include: scalability, low transaction costs, effective interfaces, appropriate management of information, and consistency in metadata.

The report also outlines a range of potential services that could be provided to help the process. These include: core services relating to the payment transactions; value-added services, such as analytical services, negotiations; and roles around metadata and user awareness. 

The report notes that researchers at a large Russell Group university such as Manchester published 5-6,000 articles and conference proceedings in 2011. Assuming that it takes an average of 60 minutes to make typical APC payment, the workload for handling this number of publications a year would amount to more than a full-time post. However, only a small number of universities so far have systematic processes in place to manage the workflows of paying for their papers to be published in open-access journals. The complex or inefficient processes currently associated with the payment of APCs could present a significant barrier to the wider adoption of open access publishing. 

This OAIG report, ‘The Potential Role for Intermediaries in Managing the Payment of Open Access Article Processing Charges’, was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust and JISC on behalf of the OAIG, and was written by the Research Information Network (RIN).