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PLOS and Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework 2022

We’re pleased to once again share our annual reporting from the Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework to give our community insight into how our publication fees are used to support journal activities and operational costs. 

PLOS has participated in the framework since its pilot phase in 2020 and we’ve made all of our reporting transparently available through our blog. As the framework has been largely unchanged from previous years, we aim to keep this update short, but encourage you to look back at our original post for more detail on the categories Plan S provides for allocation, as well as key differences between our journal models.

Price Transparency Data 2022

As indicated in the table below, publishers completing the framework are asked to provide the percentage of their Article Processing Charge (APC), per journal associated with eight different categories in order to demonstrate how journals value the allocation of services they provide. The data in the table below reflects the reporting we provided to the Journal Comparison Service at the end of 2023 covering the year 2022 and is based on the publication fee for a Research Article in each journal at that time. You can find our full report from the framework in this spreadsheet.

  2022 APC price % of price for journal and community development % of price from submission to first decision % of price for peer review management % of price for services from acceptance to publication % of price for services after publication % of price for platform development % of price for sales & marketing to customers or of articles % of price for author and customer support
PLOS Computational Biology $2,655 11% 13% 13% 18% 8% 11% 16% 10%
PLOS Digital Health $2,575 21% 11% 13% 16% 8% 11% 9% 11%
PLOS Genetics $2,655 13% 13% 16% 16% 8% 9% 14% 11%
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases $2,495 12% 12% 13% 18% 8% 11% 16% 10%
PLOS Pathogens $2,655 11% 14% 13% 17% 8% 10% 18% 9%
PLOS Biology $5,300 20% 24% 19% 10% 5% 5% 12% 5%
PLOS Medicine $5,300 17% 20% 17% 11% 6% 7% 16% 6%
PLOS Sustainability and Transformation $3,000 25% 28% 22% 7% 3% 5% 6% 4%
PLOS Climate $2,100 19% 28% 14% 10% 10% 6% 9% 4%
PLOS Global Public Health $2,100 21% 17% 12% 15% 8% 10% 9% 8%
PLOS Water $2,100 18% 34% 16% 6% 12% 4% 7% 3%
PLOS ONE $1,805 12% 15% 12% 16% 8% 11% 18% 8%

What’s changed in 2022?

New to our reporting this year is the inclusion of PLOS Climate, PLOS Digital Health, PLOS Global Public Health, PLOS Sustainability and Transformation, and PLOS Water which launched in 2021 but did not begin publishing articles until late that year (in the case of PLOS Global Public Health) or 2022 for the other titles. 

As we’ve highlighted in previous posts, differences in journal editorial structures and services drive variance in the percentages of the APC value allocated to each category and you’ll see that in the breakdown of the new journals. We have also allocated a greater percentage of the APC to “Journal Community Development” which reflects activities such as editorial board and scope development which are critical to a new journal. 

Not every PLOS author pays an APC

The numbers above are based on the standard publication fee for each journal, however, it is an important focus for PLOS to expand opportunities for Open Access publishing beyond the dominant APC model. Each of our journals offer institutional partnership models that can significantly reduce or entirely eliminate publication fees for authors. These models each work a little differently to suit the needs of specific journal communities: redistributing the costs of selective publishing more fairly, more equitably accounting for regional economic differences, or simply streamlining APC support. We’ve seen consistent growth in partnerships since we launched our first new models in 2020. In 2022 our institutional partnerships nearly doubled to include 181 institutions across 26 countries and we’re continuing to invest in growing this support system.

Authors whose funder and institution are based in a Research4Life country are able to publish in PLOS journals for free, or significantly reduced publication fee (details can be found on our website). We also offer publication fee assistance to support authors accepted for publication at one of our journals who demonstrate a lack of funds to pay their publication fees.

Investing in our communities

The price transparency framework provides an objective tool to compare APC breakdowns across publishers. What can get lost in this framework is the detail of those services themselves. As a nonprofit organization, PLOS works alongside researchers and research stakeholders to transform scholarly communication. In each of the broad categories provided by the framework, there are a number of activities and decisions about how we work that drive forward our mission to make scholarly communication more open, equitable, and fair. 

For example, our highly regarded publishing ethics team works to raise awareness of publication ethics standards across the scholarly community, as well as developing policies and processes to further research integrity at our journals. We aim to help researchers increase the visibility and impact of their work by providing career-building resources and educational tools for Open Science. We are also passionately involved in researching, developing and implementing Open Science best-practices across our organization and collaborating globally to increase awareness of the benefits of Open Science and co-create pathways that enable more researchers to make their work open.

For more information about our finances and strategic initiatives, PLOS also provides an annual update on our financial overview page

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