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APC data collection

As a part of its work on negotiating the Total Cost of Ownership with journal publishers, Jisc Collections has been gathering and openly releasing data on article processing charge (APC) payments made by UK higher education institutions (HEIs). Making this data openly available has helped to raise awareness of the amount of money being paid for APCs, especially to those publishers that also receive large sums in subscription costs. A standard template* has been created which is designed to be used by HEIs to record and monitor their APC payments.

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There are two main drivers which have guided our thinking about creating a standard format for APC data collection:

  1. as many APC payments as possible should be publicly available;
  2. this data should be as standardised and well-structured as possible.

In order to have fully informed discussions about the total costs of academic publishing, both in terms of journal subscriptions and APC-funded open access, it is necessary to have robust data to work with. Ideally all subscription and APC expenditure from UK HEIs would be transparent and openly available. Having access to the national total would mean we could precisely model the financial costs of transitioning to APC-funded open access.

We want to make sure that the data collection is done in a way that is both straightforward for libraries to participate in and also has openness built in as default. Using a standard template will help to produce comparable data between institutions so HEIs can benchmark their data and it can be more easily aggregated. The data fields to be completed have been chosen from careful analysis of HEI needs. This means the spreadsheet can be used for both internal reporting, and for external reporting to the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) and RCUK for compliance monitoring (see below).

Jisc Collections is committed to the principle of working openly. Its work is conducted on behalf of the entire higher and further education library community, and to be accountable we need to be as transparent as possible. Making the data open will directly help with the total cost of ownership work and also help satisfy the growing interest in APC costs in the wider community. Monitoring the cost of open access publishing in a standardised way will allow researchers to investigate the extent of APC-funded open access and produce analysis that will not be possible any other way.

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The template and changes

Jisc Collections is working with higher education institutions to collect APC data on an ongoing basis. Version 4 of the Jisc APC template is now available. To make a local copy of the template download this version.

Version 4 of the template contains several changes from the previous version. These changes are:

1) Adding a “Discount, memberships, and pre-payments” tab. APCs paid for through offset agreements and through other agreements are becoming an important part of the landscape. This year, for the first time, we are asking institutions to provide the amount spent on these agreements in a separate tab as a way to value APCs paid for from these deals. On the “Jisc template v4” tab, in the “Discount, memberships, & pre-payments” column, select the deal from the drop-down list. Under “APC paid (£) including VAT if charged,” enter the amount spent on the APC or, if the amount is unknown, leave blank. The “Discounts, memberships, & pre-payments “ sheet will automatically update with the names of the deals entered, the number of APCs paid under the deal, and the amount spent. You are then asked to fill in the amount spent on the membership, as well as the amount charged to RCUK and/or COAF, if any.

2) Adding a new column, “Date of acceptance”. This column was added to reflect the increasing importance of recording this date.

3) Deleting columns that were not required by Jisc, COAF, or RCUK for reporting purposes. The deleted columns are: “Submitted by,” “University department,” “PubMed Central (PMC) ID,” “Affiliated author,” “APC paid (actual currency) including VAT if charged,” “VAT (actual currency),” “APC paid (£) excluding VAT,” “VAT (£),” “Correct license applied,” “Problem-free open access publication.” These columns were removed to ease the burden of reporting. If your institution requires any of these columns for internal reporting purposes, you can add them back to the sheet.

4) Limiting the values that can be entered in the “Type of publication”, “Fund that APC is paid from”, “Funder of research”, and “Licence” columns. This change was made to provide consistent ways of recording these values across institutions.

We’d welcome your feedback on this template. Please email with any comments, suggestions, or questions.

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Using the template

Full definitions of each metadata field are given on a separate tab on the template. These fields are compatible with RIOXX and CASRAI definitions where possible, and map to the RIOXX metadata profile and/or CASRAI data dictionary. In their local copies of the template institutions are welcome to add additional fields to the right of the existing ones (i.e. after Column AL in the main template) but please do not alter or remove any existing fields. This allows the template to remain standardised and interoperable while also being adaptable to local needs.

It is recommended that institutions archive the data that they release in an online research repository, such as figshare or their own institutional repository. Many institutions are already doing this. Jisc Collections is happy to archive the data on behalf of institutions if they wish. Jisc Collections will also aggregate the data from all participating institutions (2014 data is available here 2015 data is available here).

Any UK HEI which has paid any APCs may participate in the data collection (institutions outside the UK are welcome to freely make use of the template as well). Transparency of APC payments helps us to understand the current state of expenditure on APCs, so as well as being free to view, all data will be published under a Creative Commons CC0 license.

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Reporting to research funders

The Jisc APC template can also be used for reporting to both RCUK and the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF). The two fundings bodies have different requirements for reporting on compliance with their open access policies but both can be satisfied by the current version* of this template. See the FAQ for details. When using the template for funder reporting please send it directly to the funder, not Jisc.

Some fields have been specifically included in the template because they are required for reporting to RCUK or COAF. For RCUK reporting, the only essential fields are 'Fund that APC is paid from' and 'Amount of APC charged to RCUK OA fund (include VAT if charged) in £'. Check the 'COAF reporting' tab to see which fields are required for reporting to them. When the main template (the 'Jisc APC template v2' tab) is filled in, the COAF reporting and RCUK reporting tabs will automatically be populated with the correct data.

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Relation to other Jisc projects

The APC data collection template is complementary to the work of Jisc Monitor and RIOXX. Jisc Monitor is developing a shared service for monitoring UK-wide open access publication and research funder compliance. This will offer reports for institutions based on the APC data provided, enabling benchmarking.

While there is some overlap between the RIOXX metadata profile and the data fields used in the template, RIOXX has been primarily designed for institutional repository metadata, which has a different focus to APC publication data. RIOXX supports the consistent tracking of open-access research publications across scholarly systems and defines the metadata that institutional repositories need to record to demonstrate compliance with the RCUK policy on open access. Where the Jisc APC template overlaps, RIOXX-compatible terms are being used for field names.

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Contact and further details

An FAQ has been written which should answer most common questions about the template and data collection. If you have any further questions that aren't answered by the FAQ or are interested in participating in the data collection, please contact for further information.

This web page was updated on 11/08/16 to include the 2016 template (version 3) and naming of one of the worksheets was corrected on 25/08/16. An archived copy of version 1 of the template is available here.

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