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Open Access Publishing

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

Why have I been asked to pay to publish my article?

Article Processing Charges (APCs) are charged to authors of scholarly articles during the publication process.  APCs are used by open access journals in lieu of subscription fees that libraries and readers traditionally have paid to gain access to research articles. APCs shift the burden of journal production costs (editing, peer review, hosting, archiving, preservation), to authors from readers. Paying an APC results in an article that is available to anyone with an internet connection. Corporate, non-profit, society, academic, and other publishers use a variety of models to meet their income needs and publishing service costs, and charging APCs is one model.

APCs should not be confused with page charges long associated with both print and digital publications. Page charges are used to cover administrative costs as well as the cost of print publication, but do not make the article available in an open access (OA) model.

How much does an APC Cost?

Journal APCs vary greatly. Some OA journals are free to publish in, while others charge anywhere from $200-$3000.  

Is it worth it?

In addition to the above reasons you may consider paying an APC,, from the University of Washington, provides a tool to help determine value among OA journals that charge APCs. Filter the data by discipline to see titles of interest to you.

Eigenfactor Index of Open Access FeesEigenfactor graph with link to eigenfactor website

The Eigenfactor Index of Open Access Fees makes it easy for scholarly authors to engage in comparison shopping between scholarly OA journals. Be sure and check out the information page to understand data sources and methods behind this tool. The image above shows how to read the data: High Article Influence (AI) and lower APC cost = "good deals."

Why Consider Paying an APC?

There are many reasons why an author may choose to publish in a journal that charges APCs.

  • Visibility: Typically paying an APC leads to increased readership of your article through open access. Your colleagues at universities and colleges worldwide, non-profits, government agencies, and the general public will have immediate access to your work, regardless of their library's ability to afford journal subscriptions. Increased access has been shown to lead to  increased citation rates as well.
  • Journal quality: Authors may find that top-ranking journals charge APCs (e.g. publishers such as PLoS, BMC, Copernicus)
  • Copyright: APC-funded articles often* include provisions that allow the author to retain more rights to their work and also give readers additional usage rights. Creative Commons licenses ranging from attribution only to more strict non-commercial and/or no-derivatives versions.
  • Compliance: If you are funded by a US Federal agency, you may find that publishing in an OA journal (with or without APCs) helps satisfy requirements to share the results of your research.

*Every author should read their contract with their publisher, ask questions, and suggest changes.  A high quality journal will be very clear and open about their policies, including APCs - the cost, and any benefits that paying an APC gives authors.