Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

APA will charge authors for green OA

The American Psychological Association may have the worst publisher policy to date for NIH-funded authors.  Excerpt:

In compliance with [the NIH OA policy], APA will deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript of NIH-funded research to PMC upon acceptance for publication. The deposit fee of $2,500 per manuscript for 2008 will be billed to the author's university per NIH policy....

Even after collecting the fee, the APA will not deposit the published version of the article, will not allow OA release for 12 months, will not allow authors to deposit in PMC themselves (and bypass the fee), will not allow authors to deposit in any other OA repository, and will not allow authors to retain copyright.


  • I don't oppose publication fees at OA journals.  But publication fees at OA journals buy gold OA, which always includes immediate OA and OA to the published edition of the article.  In most cases it also allows the author to retain key rights, including the right to deposit the work in an OA repository independent of the publisher.  But the APA is not charging for gold OA.  It's charging for green OA:  deposit in an OA repository (PMC) and nothing more.  In fact, the APA is frank enough to call its demand a "deposit fee" rather than a "publication fee".  No author or author-sponsor should ever have to pay a fee to deposit an article in an OA repository. 
  • The NIH policy does not prevent publishers from charging fees.  Indeed, it doesn't prevent publishers from doing anything.  It regulates grantees, not publishers.  But it certainly doesn't require publishers to charge fees.  The APA is simply being dishonest when it says that it will bill its fee to universities "per NIH policy". 
  • The foulness of this policy wouldn't matter if NIH-funded authors simply steered clear of APA journals.  That's my recommendation.  A green OA fee is not a good use of grant funds, university funds, or author funds.
  • The APA isn't the first publisher to charge for green OA, especially for authors under green OA mandates from their funders.  Both Wiley and the ACS did it under the previous (voluntary) version of the NIH policy, and the OAD is documenting publishers who try the same tactic under the new (mandatory) version of the policy.
  • See my past posts on the APA's opposition to the NIH policy.

Update (7/16/08).  This morning the APA policy page deleted the language summarized above and replaced it with these paragraphs:

A new document deposit policy of the American Psychological Association (APA) requiring a publication fee to deposit manuscripts in PubMed Central based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently being re-examined and will not be implemented at this time. This policy had recently been announced on APA’s Web site. APA will soon be releasing more detailed information about the complex issues involved in the implementation of the new NIH Public Access Policy.

APA will continue to deposit NIH-funded manuscripts on behalf of authors in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Update (7/16/08).  Also see Kevin Smith's comment, Making Elsevier Look Good:

...Since there is virtually no cost associated with the mechanics of deposit itself, and the NIH policy allows an embargo on public availability of articles of up to one year in order to protect the traditional subscription market, it is hard to see what this policy is intended to accomplish other than to force an additional income stream out of the faculty authors who already provide the APA with free content. And there is heavy irony in the APA’s assertion that they can do this “as the copyright holder.” ...

Two simple and specific messages need to be delivered over and over to our faculty authors if this dysfunctional and abusive system is to change.

First, they need to be reminded that they do have choices about where they publish their work; there is no logic in remaining loyal to a particular journal when the publisher of that title has clearly decide to place profit and self-interest above the well-being of the academy, the discipline, or its scholarly authors.

Second, regardless of where they publish their research, scholars should resist transferring copyright to journal publishers. APA can only tell scholarly authors what that can and cannot do with their work after they have received a transfer of copyright; up to that point they must negotiate, not dictate....