Subscription and Read & Publish pricing
As a not-for-profit journal publisher with a mission to support biologists and inspire biology worldwide, The Company of Biologists has been at the forefront of Open Access (OA) innovation since 2004.
Our hybrid subscription journals (Development, Journal of Cell Science and Journal of Experimental Biology) were the first in the world to be afforded Transformative Journal status by Plan S. We were also one of the first not-for-profit publishers to launch a cost-neutral Read & Publish initiative.
The success of these and other initiatives has resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of OA articles published in our hybrid journals and we are committed to ensuring that our library customers are not double charged for access to this content.
Our commitment to transparency
- We have committed to flip our hybrid journals to full OA as soon as possible and in any event once 75% of research content is OA.
- We publish detailed information about our progress towards Transformative Journal targets for OA growth each year, and targets were exceeded by all journals in 2021.
- We review our pricing policy annually to ensure that our customers do not pay twice for access to OA content via article processing charges (APCs) and subscription fees, also known as “double-dipping”.
- We offer transparent pricing for Read & Publish agreements based on the subscription fee plus the average APCs (if any) paid by authors at participating institutions over the previous three years.
- We agree an annual price increase, taking into account the prevailing rate of inflation which impacts our publishing costs.
- As per our “double-dipping” policy, we apply a reduction to the price increase according to the percentage change in the number of OA articles that have been published in each journal over the previous three years, using a rolling average to smooth out annual variations.
- Where the proportion of OA revenue is lower than the proportion of OA content, we may reduce the subscription price based on revenue rather than content.
All online subscribers and institutions participating in our Read & Publish initiative benefit from the reduction, including consortia and Tier 5 institutions.
“Publish” element of Read & Publish agreements
- Pricing calculations for the “publish” element of Read & Publish agreements are based on the previous three years of publishing data, using a rolling average to smooth out annual variations.
The final OA article counts for each journal during the periods 2018-2020 and 2019-2021 are shown below.
The annual price increase of 4.9% in 2023, approved by our Board of Directors, is considerably less that the UK inflation rate of 9.4%* (as at June 2022) which has had a significant impact on our publishing costs.
This is because our Directors, all of whom are practising scientists:
- understand the difficulties that our library customers are facing in the current economic climate
- recognise the support of the library community in helping us achieve our Open Access goals through participating in our Read & Publish Open Access initiative
The % change in number of OA articles is deducted from the price increase of 4.9% to give the net decrease/ increase in price.
*As measured by the Consumer Price Index, June 2022
|Journal||2018-2020||2019-2021||Change in OA||2023 price adjustment|
|Development||255 OA articles||290 OA articles||3.82%||4.9% - 3.82% = +1.08%|
|Journal of Cell Science||191 OA articles||233 OA articles||3.32%||4.9% - 3.32% = +1.58%|
|Journal of Experimental Biology||44 OA articles||122 OA articles||5.55%||4.9% - 5.55% = -0.65%|
In this fast-moving landscape, it is hard to predict the future. But, whatever happens, maintaining our excellent relationships with our library customers will always be central to our strategy.
We will continue to be transparent regarding our pricing policies and our progress towards our OA targets, and we will keep customers regularly updated via email and the Library Hub section of our website.
We are also looking at a range of options for multi-year agreements which run beyond the end of 2024 to allow for journals to flip if the 75% target is met by the Plan S deadline of 1 January 2025. These include opt-out clauses and the conversion of Read & Publish agreements to publishing agreements.