Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guidance on paying publication fees

Universities UK and the Research Information Network have released a major report, Paying for open access publication charges, March 2009.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill.)  From the summary in Annex A:

Higher education institutions

We recommend that: ...

  • HEIs should establish dedicated budgets to which researchers can apply for funds to meet the costs of publication fees.
  • Even if management of the budget is devolved, a consistent and coordinated approach to managing the payment of publication fees is taken across the institution.
  • HEIs should establish clear criteria as to the circumstances in which researchers can apply for funds, including: eligibility for support when articles include authors from other institutions; eligibility for multiple grants in any one year; the priority to be given to researchers whose work is not supported by any external grant; the criteria for judging between competing claims for grants if funds are limited and any requirement to have the institution properly identified, e.g. within the context of the REF.
  • Whatever arrangements institutions adopt to meet publication fees, it is vital that they are communicated effectively to all relevant academic and administrative staff.


We recommend that:

  • Funders should clarify how they will provide support for researchers in meeting their open access policies in general, and the payment of publication fees in particular.
  • RIN should continue to work with funders and UUK to monitor and assess developments in policy and practice, and in the funding environment; to advocate through dialogue coherent approaches to the development of policy; and to promote innovation in scholarly communication that is both cost-effective and in the best interests of research and the research community.


We recommend that the submission process should include:

  • for fully open access journals, a requirement for corresponding authors to confirm that they will pay the fee, or arrange for payment, if the paper is accepted for publication, and
  • for hybrid journals, a requirement for corresponding authors to indicate whether or not they wish to pay a publication fee, and if so to confirm that they will pay it, or arrange for it to be paid, if the paper is accepted for publication....

Authors should be alerted to relevant fee waivers and discounts during the submission process....

Publishers should be as open as possible about their business models, about the income they are receiving in subscription and publication fees respectively, and about how they set their fee levels, and publishers of hybrid journals in particular should adjust their subscription rates to reflect increases in income from open access fees.


We recommend that:

  • Authors should make use of services such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, and consider the options for publishing their results in such journals.
  • Authors should familiarise themselves with their fundersí policies and requirements, with the options and the arrangements available to them in their institutions for meeting the costs of publication in open access and hybrid journals and with the administrative arrangements to apply for such funds.
  • Before they submit articles for open access publication, corresponding authors should ensure that they have access to the funds necessary to meet the publication fee.

Also see RIN's earlier studies and recommendations on publication fees.


  • This is helpful.  To me the three most important recommendations are these (and I support all three): 
    1. Universities should create funds to help pay these fees.
    2. Hybrid OA journals should reduce their subscription prices in proportion to fee revenue.
    3. Universities and funders willing to pay these fees should make that fact very clear to faculty and grantees (to dispel the harmful assumption that publication fees are only paid by authors out of pocket).
  • I'd make at least four additions to the list: 
    1. Under universities:  Before any university creates a fund to pay these fees, or at the same time that it creates such a fund, it should require green OA for its research output (for example, as MIT just did).  A green OA mandate will cover a much larger body of literature than a journal fund, and at a much lower cost.  I'm not saying that a green OA mandate will make gold OA support unnecessary.  Universities should take both steps, but should take the more cost-effective step first.
    2. Under both universities and publishers:  Those who support OA journals and those who publish them should understand that the publication fee is only one of many business models compatible with OA.
    3. Under authors:  Authors should understand that they can make their work OA through a repository (green OA), not only through a journal (gold OA). 
    4. Under authors:  Authors should understand that most OA journals do not charge publication fees.

Update (3/28/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

...A university should on no account spend a single penny on Gold OA fees until and unless it has first adopted a Green OA mandate to deposit all of its own refereed journal article output in its own institutional repository....