Fee Policy

The Frontiers model of high-quality publishing is founded on the principles of Open Science and sustained by Article Processing Charges (APCs). Here we present Frontiers’ APC policy in detail, providing the context and rationale that have gone into its structure.

Executive Summary

  • Article Processing Charges (APCs) are Frontiers, sole revenue stream.
  • With the mission of making science open and providing the resources to launch 64 open-access journals spanning over 600 academic disciplines, over the last 10 years, 100% of APC income has been reinvested into technological innovation and high-quality support. To date, Frontiers has published over 100,000 articles by 350,000 authors. Frontiers articles have received more than 1,000,000 citations and over 500 million views and downloads globally.
  • Frontiers operates an APC pricing spectrum, designed to be sustainable and inclusive - which considers journal maturity and open-access funding availability in different research communities. This means that more mature journals and richer communities support and subsidize new journals and communities with less research funding, enabling all research communities to benefit from Open Science.
  • Based on the 2018 pricing structure, the average APC of a Frontiers article is US$ 1,850 or (€1,600) and is anticipated to consolidate at ~US$ 2,300 (or €2,000).
  • Frontiers APC business model enables us to publish high-quality, high-impact scholarly journals that consistently rank amongst the world,s leading journals in both the 2018 Impact Factor and the 2018 CiteScore. Frontiers is currently the 4th most cited publisher, receiving on average 3.65 citations per article published between 2015 and 2017.
  • The Frontiers APCs pay for the people (more than 500 highly skilled professionals) who run our editorial programs and build our technology – allowing us to deliver premium services on a dedicated custom-built Open Science Platform.
  • Frontiers APC rates are highly competitive and enable us to provide industry-leading services to our authors, editors and readers. This advantage has been gained through our continuous investment in cutting-edge technology.
  • Authors and institutions with insufficient funding are eligible for a full or partial APC waiver, provided his or her article passes our independent and rigorous peer review, allowing everybody to benefit from open dissemination regardless of their funding situation.

APC Structure and Rationale

All Frontiers journals are led by communities of active researchers. The revenues from Article Processing Charges (APCs), our sole revenue stream, empower our international team of more than 500 professionals to support them in every way, including custom-built, tailored technology for the specific needs of authors, editors and reviewers.

Our APCs are based on five categories of publishing fees, which vary according to journal maturity, article type and the differences in the level of research and open-access funding available in various disciplines (Table 1).

For example, for Original Research Articles, Frontiers, APCs range from US$ 2,950 (€2,500) in our most mature journals with well-established Open Access (OA) support, to US$ 950 (€800) in newly launched journals and/or fields that have lower research budgets available and/or where OA is not yet well-supported (e.g. humanities and social sciences fields). In general, journals with higher APCs partially subsidize journals with lower APCs. This brings the benefits of OA and high-tech services to more academic communities which may have limited options for OA publishing.

Frontiers, APCs also support article types with lower prices (e.g. Mini Reviews are priced lower than Original Research Articles) or article types that are free of charge (e.g. articles in our outreach journal, Frontiers for Young Minds). Our average APC across all journal categories and article types, and after discounts and waivers and adjustments for lower-priced article types, is US$ 1,850 (€1,600) in 2018 (Table 2).

This APC policy allows us to continuously increase staff as the journals grow, build specialized teams and invest in IT development for all our journals and the peer-review process. It also finances our mission of an inclusive editorial program by bringing high-quality impactful journals to many academic communities.

The track record shows that the Frontiers formula works: among the world,s 20 largest publishers in 2017, Frontiers ranks as the 4th most-cited with an average of 3.65 citations per article. Within subject-specific categories, Frontiers journals consistently rank amongst the world,s leading journals in both the 2018 Impact Factor and the 2018 CiteScore.


Table 1: APC rationale reflecting journal maturity, article type, and open-access funding availability in different research communities. Mature journals in well-funded fields support younger journals or communities with less funding. Frontiers APCs are charged in US$. Euro prices are also stated, for comparative convenience, in Euro based on an exchange rate of $1 = €0.85 (and rounded).

Category

Description

Article type A

Article type B

Article type C

Article type D

1

Newly launched journals and/or those in fields that have lower research budgets

$ 950

(€ 800)

$ 700

(€ 600)

$ 450

(€ 400)

$ 0

2

Recently launched journals and/or those in fields with moderate research budgets

$ 1,150

(€ 1,000)

$ 700

(€ 600)

$ 450

(€ 400)

$ 0

3

Journals that are well-established and in fields that support Open Access

$ 1,900

(€ 1,600)

$ 875

(€ 750)

$ 450

(€ 400)

$ 0

4

Mature and impactful journals that are well-established and in fields that support Open Access

$ 2,490

(€ 2,100)

$ 1,150

(€ 1,000)

$ 450

(€ 400)

$ 0

5

Sustainable and impactful journals in fields that support Open Access

 $ 2,950

(€ 2,500)

 $ 1,850

(€ 1,600)

 $ 450

(€ 400)

$ 0

Benchmarking APCs

The 2017 report ’Towards a competitive and sustainable open access publishing market in Europe’ commissioned by the European Commission estimates:

  • Average revenue generated by a subscription article: €4,000-5,000
  • Average APC in a Gold-Hybrid journal: €2,500
  • Average APC in a fully Gold Open Access journal: €1,500

By comparison:

  • Average APC of a Frontiers article in 2018: €1,600

To guarantee a high-quality publishing service for all academic disciplines, we anticipate that our average APC will consolidate at around € 2,000 (or US$ 2,300).

Figures 1, 2, and 3 below show APC price ranges across publishers of Gold-Hybrid OA in subscription journals and pure Gold Open Access journals. By comparison, Frontier’s APC rates are highly competitive, and yet enable us to provide industry-leading services to our authors, editors and readership. This is achieved through continuous investment into technology.

Figure 1. (A) Ranges of average revenue per subscription article (red) and average APCs in Hybrid Open Access journals (blue) and Gold Open Access journals (gold). (B) Maximum and minimum APCs in Gold-Hybrid Open Access journals by publisher. (C) Maximum and minimum APCs in Gold Open Access journals by publisher. Frontiers’ ranges and average are shown for 2018. All converted to US$ for ease of comparison. Source: Price ranges as found on publishers’ websites (2016).

Figure 2. Ranges of publication fees paid in the UK to the top 10 publishers (by volume) in 2014. Yellow boxes indicate the APC ranges as found on Publisher websites; black lines indicate average APC reported by authors. Figure adapted from the 2015 Report for the Universities UK Coordination Group. Source: Monitoring the Transition to Open Access.

Figure 3. APC ranges for top publishers. Gold-Hybrid journals ranges are in green and Gold Open Access journals are yellow. Source: Figure supplied by Delta Think (2016 Report, Delta Think)

How Frontiers’ APCs are Spent

The provision of a high-quality open-access publishing service comes at a cost. Table 2 shows how our 2018 expenditure is distributed on a per-article basis across journal operations (17%), publication costs (9%), communication (8%), IT & innovation (17%), growth (12%), general & administration expenditure (6%). 30% of our APC revenue is returned to the academic community through our inclusive editorial program in the form of honoraria & awards (4%), discounts and waivers (11%) and a differential article type pricing structure (15%). Below we explain our APC pricing structure in more detail.

In the spirit of transparency to our editors, authors, universities, funders and the various stakeholders in academia, Frontiers has been publishing a breakdown of our APC expenditure since 2014.


Table 2. Frontiers’ cost structure per article for the different journal categories (Cat 1-5), based on 2018 expenditure. Frontiers APCs are charged in US$. Euro prices are also stated, for comparative convenience based on an exchange rate of $1 = €0.85 and rounded up. The blue row is the average APCs per article after discounts & waivers and adjustments for lower-priced article types.

 

%

Average APC

Cat 5

APC

Cat 4

APC

Cat 3

APC

Cat 2

APC

Cat 1

APC

Maximum APC per article

 100%

$ 2,500

(€ 2,150)

$ 2,950

(€ 2,500)

$ 2,490

(€ 2,100)

$ 1 ,900

(€ 1,600)

$ 1,150

(€ 1,000)

$ 950

(€ 800)

Adjustment for lower-priced article types

 15%

($ -374)

($ -550)

($ -335)

($ -255)

($ -155)

($ -130)

Discounts and waivers

11%

($ -276)

($ -309)

 ($ -277)

($ -211)

($ -128)

($ -106)

Average APC per article after discounts & waivers and adjustment for lower-priced article types

74%

$ 1,850

(€ 1,600)

$ 2,091

(€ 1,800)

$ 1,878

(€ 1,600)

$ 1,434

(€ 1,200)

$ 867

(€ 750)

$ 715

(€ 600)

Journal Operations, Peer-Review & Helpdesk

      Journal management staff

      Peer review process management

      Help desk & other support staff

      Editorial staff overheads

17%

6%

5%

5%

1%

$ 417

$142

$127

$114

$34

$ 417

$ 417

$ 417

$ 417

$ 417

Inclusivity: New journals & subsidies for less well-funded research areas

12%

$ 292

$ 342

$ 342

$ 150

-

-

Publication

      Typesetting & Copy-Editing

      Persistent Identifiers, Archiving & Server Costs

      APC collection costs

9%

7%

1%

1%

$ 226

$ 181

$ 19

$ 26

$ 226

$ 226

$ 226

$ 226

$ 226

Technology & Innovation

      IT development staff costs

      Server hire

      Licences

      IT staff overheads

17%

13%

2%

1%

1%

$ 413

$ 312

$ 55

$ 28

$ 17

$ 479

$ 440

$ 250

$ 125

-

Communication, Marketing & Advocacy

8%

$ 198

$ 213

$ 213

$ 213

-

-

General & Administration

6%

$ 146

$ 165

$ 150

$ 116

$ 39

$ 13

Editorial Honoraria, Community Support & Awards

4%

$ 107

$ 129

$ 90

$ 60

$ 60

$ 60

Surplus per published article (as of 2018)

2%

$ 52

$ 120

-

-

-

-

Figure 4. APC per article for each of the different categories of Frontiers’ journals. This graph represents the data from Table 2.

Journal Operations

First and foremost, the APC revenue is invested in the teams at Frontiers who support and enable our editorial boards to operate world-class journals on our Open Science Platform. 17% of our APCs are allocated to this premium service.

Our dedicated teams, led by our Journal Managers, provide each Chief Editor with the support needed to effectively oversee their journals and sections and include: Editorial Board and General Journal Management, Review Process Management, Research Integrity and Ethics, Article Collections and Helpdesk.

  • Our Journal Teams have the expertise to support our Chief Editors to identify and invite leading researchers to our Editorial Boards, to acquire high-quality content, handle article collections and to oversee all operational aspects of our widely read and highly-cited journals.
  • Frontiers does not set acceptance or rejection rates, but has clearly defined quality standards for research and peer-review.
    • Our Research Integrity Team checks each manuscript on 40+ quality aspects, including potential plagiarism, conflicts-of-interest, controversial content, language and grammar and image manipulation. They handle all ethical concerns and reject submissions that do not meet all these quality standards. Our quality checks are continuously monitored and improved, allowing for subsequent development and automation of processes, as well as integration into AIRA, our Artificial Intelligence Review Assistant, operating within our Collaborative Review Forum.
    • Our Review Operations Team ensures that quality standards are adhered to during peer review; that the appropriate experts are assigned to the manuscripts and provide rigorous and constructive feedback to the authors, that each stage of the review process advances in an effective and timely manner; and that our editors are supported at every step of this process.
  • Frontiers has a dedicated Helpdesk to handle any technical or support questions that may arise.
Inclusivity

Our mission is to make science open. Therefore, 12% of our APC revenue is invested to support new publication initiatives across the entire academic spectrum, ranging from life sciences to medicine, engineering, humanities and social sciences. Our journal program is also aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and contains a dedicated sustainability program.

Importantly, higher APCs in more mature journals not only subsidize the launch of new fields and emerging communities before they become self-sustainable, they also bring the benefits of our Open Science platform to fields with more restricted research budgets or where Open Access is not yet well established and lacks the funding. Such fields include many disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, but also in Life Science and Technology. In short, richer communities support less well funded communities to benefit from Open Access.

Publishing Costs

Typesetting and copy-editing (in-house and outsourced), persistent identifiers, archiving and permanent storage and APC collection costs (such as credit card fees) make up 9% of article costs.

  1. Upon acceptance, the manuscript moves to our Production Team. They oversee the entire production process, as Typesetters produce the article in PDF, HTML, XML and EPUB formats. A new round of quality checks ensures that the citations are in the correct format, that figures are of sufficient resolution, that the formatting is correct and that proofs are generated. English language editing is included in this service. Persistent Identifiers (such as DOIs and ORCIDs) are assigned.
  2. The final article is then published on our website, uploaded onto our servers in PDF, HTML, XML and EPUB format and indexed in external repositories (including PubMed Central, Web of Science, Scopus, CrossRef and CLOCKSS).
  3. The publication and storage of thousands of articles each year requires stable, terabyte servers (fast approaching petabyte) with multiple geographical backups to guarantee fast and permanent access to all Frontiers articles.
Technology and Innovation

A relentless focus on technology and innovation is one of our core principles, with 17% of our APC income invested in IT development. We take an agile approach to the development of our in-house Open Science Platform, with new versions released every 2 weeks.

Our editors are able to manage the peer-review process efficiently – and ultimately deliver high-quality articles – thanks to the platform tools released by our development teams. As the journals attract new authors, our editorial boards have the tools they need to for complete oversight and process management to safeguard quality.

For example, a 2018 highlight was the launch of AIRA, Frontiers’ Artificial Intelligence Review Assistant, which employs state-of-the-art algorithms to recognize patterns in standard operational procedures to assist and alert editors in their work. AIRA assesses and flags a rapidly growing number of quality aspects, such as conflicts of interest, reviewer expertise, quality of review reports, face detection in article figures, plagiarism, spelling, flagged keywords, and many more review and manuscript quality aspects. AIRA is part of our Review Forum – providing oversight and establishing a chain of accountability for the handling of each manuscript.

Figure 5. Frontiers Open Science Platform and its services.

Communication and Marketing

We support our authors, reviewers and editors and our Communications Team ensures that we promote their research and leadership in their fields. We use numerous channels for promotion, including traditional media, social media, monthly newsletters, article alerts, network updates, conferences and by organizing and sponsoring events.

Progress can be monitored on the article’s impact metrics page of each article published.

In 2018:

  • Frontiers articles were mentioned 240,000 times on social media and 8,000 times in traditional news
  • Frontiers articles were viewed and downloaded 140 million times
  • Frontiers articles received over 320,000 citations (Scopus)
  • Loop profiles of our editors were viewed 10 million times and our authors 16 million times
  • Frontiers organized its 4th annual Frontiers Forum
  • Frontiers participated in 136 international conferences and sponsored 42 events.
Advocacy and Collaborations

We are passionate about Open Science and work with like-minded organizations to pursue our common vision of Open Science for all of society.

In 2017 – 2018, Frontiers:

Outreach

Frontiers for Young Minds an open-access online scientific journal that publishes articles for young people, written by scientists and reviewed by an editorial board of kids and teenagers from around the world. The journal operations are supported in part via APC income, as well as through external grants. For example, a recent grant from the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation has allowed us to build a platform for publication in multiple languages - the entire website is available in Hebrew, with other languages on the way. Frontiers for Young Minds connects today's science to children and their families the world over.

Discounts and Waivers

Frontiers, waiver policy ensures that all articles worthy of publication can benefit from open dissemination - regardless of the authors funding situation or field of research - and we actively work with research communities, institutions and funders to offer a range of discounts and support.

Authors and institutions with insufficient funding are eligible for a full or partial APC waiver, provided his or her article passes our independent and rigorous peer review.

We also work with institutions and national consortia to facilitate the logistics of APC payments and provide a seamless payment process. Our Institutional Membership program has been steadily growing and now covers over 126 institutions in 15 countries, who have centralized payment agreements for their authors. These programs include two, first-of-its-kind, fully transparent national open-access framework agreements with Austria and Sweden. We also work with funders, including the Austrian Science Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide solutions consistent with their policies.  

The cost of granted waivers lowers our APC by 11%.

Adjustments for Lower-Priced Article Types

Based on the extensive feedback from our editors and authors, we have developed a flexible range of article types with differentiated APCs to allow for a more inclusive editorial publishing program. For example, Mini Review articles are priced lower than Original Research Articles. Some article types, such as for our outreach program Frontiers for Young Minds (see Section 5.8), are entirely free of charge. Article-type discounting lowers the APC by 15%.

General and Administration

Human resources, accounting, finance costs, office rental and other support and administrative functions currently represent 7% of our total expenditure.

Honoraria and Awards

Frontiers supports research communities in various ways. For example, we pay our Chief Editors honoraria. These are granted based on the workload associated with the number of manuscripts evaluated and strictly independent from acceptance decisions. In addition, the Community Support Fund enables Chief Editors of successful journals to provide grants to support community activities such as conferences or invited articles, and to the Spotlight Conference Award, which provides a $100’000 grant to the editors of a particularly impactful Research Topic to allow them to organize a conference around the collection’s theme.

In total, 4% of our expenditure is allocated to honoraria and awards.

The Cost of Rejections

Frontiers does not set acceptance or rejection rates. Instead our editorial policy is based on clearly defined quality standards and certifies objective quality, validity and rigor of research. Articles that pass rigorous peer review performed by our external boards of experts are accepted, articles that do not are rejected.

As submissions have been increasing over the years, so have rejections. In 2018, 39% of submitted articles across all academic disciplines were rejected and in some journals the rejection rate reached 59% (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. Number of submissions, acceptances and rejections by year until Dec 31, 2018. Find more info in our 2018 Progress Report.

Rapidly rising submissions and rejections have led us to initiate new teams and processes. The additional cost associated with an exponential increase in rejections is substantial and is considered in setting the APC pricing level.

Our stand-alone Peer Review Team has the mission to maximize quality standards in the peer-review process and provide our editors with dedicated support. Their responsibilities include:

  • Screening of all manuscripts at submission. Manuscripts that do not pass our objective quality criteria are rejected and never enter peer review, cases with concerns are flagged to the attention of the handling Associate Editor or Chief Editors and monitored.
  • Screening of all manuscripts before final acceptance. Articles that pass peer review performed by our editorial boards are screened again at the Final Validation stage and require clearance to go into production.
  • Overseeing the quality-checks, which include: potential plagiarism with the Crossref Similarity Check powered by iThenticate; potential conflicts of interest between authors, reviewers and editor; quality of language and grammar; quality of review reports, etc. To date, we have established protocols for ~40 quality checks for manuscripts and peer review and this continues to rise month by month.
  • Overseeing the quality and integrity of the peer review itself, that the correct experts are assigned and that they perform the review job in a rigorous, professional and timely manner.
  • Manual quality checks are analyzed for translation into an automated solution, to be directly integrated into our Collaborative Review Forum and Open Science platform by our IT teams. The launch of AIRA, our Artificial Intelligence Review Assistant in 2018, was a major innovation milestone.

The number of rejections continues to climb (Fig. 6) as we apply strict objective quality standards and an independent and expert-controlled review process for all Frontiers journals. While the APCs are only applied to published articles, the substantial work associated with rejections is also covered by APC income and contributes to the setting of the APC. Even though we cannot yet predict where the rejection rate with settle, we ultimately strive to keep the checks and balances on APC costs with investment in continuously improved processes and technology, such as AIRA, the Review Forum and Digital Editorial Office, to keep down overall journal operating costs, while at the same time maximising quality and efficiency.

APCs Caps: Frontiers Assessment and Position

The 2017 report “Towards a competitive and sustainable open access market in Europe” commissioned by the European Commission estimated that the average revenue generated by an article in a subscription journal is €4,000-5,000. By contrast, the average APC for hybrid Gold journals is €2,500 and for fully Gold OA journals, €1,500, i.e. more than three times lower than the cost of a subscription article.

However, the current APC discussion rarely takes the cost-savings of Open Access into account. Instead, university libraries often see Gold OA as an additional expense on top of their already stretched subscription budgets and funders as a new line-item in their funding budgets. Additionally, there is still suspicion among stakeholders that OA publishers will also slowly but surely increase prices, leading to yet another round of abusive commercial practices.

In this context, it is not surprising that "caps" have been proposed as a protective measure. For example, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the OPENAire FP7 post-grant fund have capped APCs at €2000/article. While understandable from the funders, perspective, it is just 40% of the cost of an article in a subscription journal and not sufficient to fully cover costs in many high-quality Gold OA journals, including eLife, PLoS, BMC and Frontiers.

In fact, an APC cap of €2,000 excludes 39% of published open access articles. The Open APC initiative releases datasets on actual fees paid for open access journal articles and provides data on 55,791 open access journal articles, representing payments amounting to €105,248,525 as contributed by 190 institutions (December 2018). An analysis of the Open APC data shows that a cap of €2,000 covers only 61% of published open access articles, whereas 94% of all Open Access journals operate at or below €3,500 (Fig. 7 and 8).

Figure 7. Histogram of Open APC article cost data. Colors are provided to display the number of paid APCs below € 1,000 (yellow), below € 2,000 (green), below € 3,500 (light blue) and above €3,500 (dark blue). The total number of recorded APCs is 75,187.

Figure 8. Cumulative distribution curve of Open APC article cost data. Colors are provided to display the number of paid APCs below € 1,000 (yellow), below € 2,000 (green) below € 3,500 (light blue) and above €3,500 (dark blue). 61% of all recorded APC payments fall below the amount of € 2,000. 92% of all recorded APC payments fall below the amount of € 3,500.

In addition, the Frontiers example shows that our average costs per article are only fully covered by the APCs charged by Category 4 and Category 5 journals, at a cost of €2,500 (or US$3,000) per article (Fig. 4, Section 4). The fees charged by other journal categories do not cover their full share of costs and, therefore, the journals in lower categories are subsidized by those in the higher ones.

The Frontiers example illustrates that an APC cap of less than €2,500 (or US$3,000) per article would not permit high-quality publishers to develop a fully inclusive publishing program because revenue is required from higher-priced journal categories to:

  • Fully cover the costs associated with publishing and disseminating research discoveries.
  • Subsidize the development of newly launched journals and/or fields that have overall lower research budgets and operate an inclusive policy that supports universities and researchers from all funding backgrounds.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of the community with editorial honoraria and community awards.
  • Fund IT innovation and technology development to safeguard article quality, review quality and ultimately to keep down journal operating costs down.

It is thus our position that artificially imposing APC caps is a shortsighted policy and risks harming the establishment of a functional and transparent marketplace for publishing services.

In fact, capping APCs in an effort to minimize costs could lead to the overall increase in institutional expenditures because publishers would simply adjust to the cap limit.

Capped APCs also risk blocking the full transition to open-access publishing:

  • Shifting to an OA model with capped APCs would mean a 60% loss of revenue for both commercial and society subscription publishers. They would need to cut their investments in services and make major cuts in their estimated 110,000 workforce. Subscription publishers, both commercial as well as societies, who together publish about 90% of annual research papers, thus have strong incentives to resist a transition to OA.
  • Capped APCs and a focus on “cheap” APCs put the new breed of Gold OA publishers at a competitive disadvantage. It may prevent them from charging the prices that are necessary to cover the costs of a high-quality service, hire the best staff, invest in innovative technology, subsidize new OA journals and build up capital – key ingredients for sustainable, high-quality publishing. Ironically, low or capped APCs in Gold Open Access journals puts OA publishers at a competitive disadvantage to subscription publishers who receive three times the price per article published.

At Frontiers we believe that an Open Access policy must focus on its core mission to enable the full transition to immediate open-access publishing.

We argue that a transparent Open Access market place will allow for the self-regulation for APCs and service-levels associated with them. Already, the fact that APCs are openly displayed on publishers, websites and are no longer hidden behind non-disclosure agreements has allowed initiatives such as Open APC to track and monitor the development of APCs.

We advocate for a transparent marketplace that allows fair competition, because in such a market added value can be openly assessed and prices self-regulate.

To this end, we support:

  • Full transparency in pricing policies.
  • Full transparency in agreements between publishers and publicly-funded institutions. This allows any institution or national consortium to compare “deals” and prices, puts pressure on publishers to account for services provided and prevents unfair or singular pricing strategies. Two landmark national agreements between Frontiers and Austria as well as Frontiers and Sweden were published in this transparent and open way.
  • A clear commitment from funders to transition to Open Science, such as the progressive Open Access policies of the Austrian Science Fund, Gates foundation, Wellcome Trust and COAlition S.

In summary, the imposition of artificially low APCs removes incentives for subscription publishers to flip to the OA model, weakens the OA movement as a whole and might likely lower the quality of publishing services. A transparent and open marketplace, where APCs are publicly disclosed and are clearly linked to service-levels provided, and where non-disclosure agreements with publishers are banned, would provide an effective, self-regulating mechanism to prevent exorbitant APCs or price increases.