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An article processing charge (APC), also known as a publication fee, is a fee which is sometimes charged to authors to make a work available
open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis o ...

open access
in either an
open access journal Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis o ...
or hybrid journal. This fee may be paid by the author, the author's institution, or their research funder. Some publishers waive the fee in cases of hardship or geographic location, but this is not a widespread practice. An article processing charge does not guarantee that the author retains copyright to the work, or that it will be made available under a
Creative Commons license A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright license A public license or public copyright licenses is a license by which a copyright holder as licensor can grant additional copyright permissions to any and all person ...
.


Background

Journals use a variety of ways to generate the income required to cover publishing costs (including editorial costs, any costs of administering the peer review system), such as subsidies from institutions and
subscriptions The subscription business model is a business model in which a customer must pay a recurring price at regular intervals for access to a Product (business), product. The model was pioneered by publishers of books and periodicals in the 17th century ...
. A majority of open access journals do not charge article processing charges, but a significant and growing number of them do. They are the most common funding method for professionally published open access articles. APC fees applied to academic research are usually expensive, effectively limiting open access circulation among the less affluent institutions, scholars, and students. The APC model of open access, among other controversies, is part of the wider and increasing global Open Access OA's ethics debate.


Other publishing fees

Different academic publishers have widely varying levels of fees, from under $100 to over $5000, and even sometimes as high as €9500 for the journal
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
. Meanwhile, independent studies indicate that the actual costs of efficiently publishing a scholarly article should be in the region of €200-€1000 High fees are sometimes charged by traditional publishers in order to publish in a
hybrid open access journal A hybrid open-access journal is a subscription journal in which some of the articles are open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other ...
, which make an individual article in a subscription journal open access. The average APC for hybrid journals has been calculated to be almost twice as high as APCs from full open access publishers. Journals with high
impact factors The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometrics, scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly average number of citations of articles published in the last two years in a give ...
from major publishers tend to have the highest APCs. Open access articles often have a surcharge compared to a closed-access APC; for example the ''
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ''Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America'' (often abbreviated ''PNAS'' or ''PNAS USA'') is a peer-review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the ...
'' charges $1590-$4215 per article (depending on length) for closed-access, with a surcharge of $1700-$2200 for open-access (depending on licence).PNAS
Publication Fees
/ref> Similarly, AGU's ''
Journal of Geophysical Research The ''Journal of Geophysical Research'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified memb ...
'' charges $1000 for closed-access and $3500 for open-access. Even when publishers do not charge standard fees, excess or overlength fees might still apply after a certain number of pages or publication units is exceeded; additional fees might exist for color figures, primarily for print journals that are not online-only. While publication charges occur upon article acceptance, article submission fees are charged prior to the start of
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field Field may r ...
; they are common among journals in some fields, e.g., finance and economics. Page charge may refer to either publication or submission fees.


Criticism

Article processing charges shift the burden of payment from readers to authors (or their funders), which creates a new set of concerns. One concern is that if a publisher makes a profit from accepting papers, it has an incentive to accept anything submitted, rather than selecting and rejecting articles based on quality. This could be remedied, however, by charging for the peer-review rather than acceptance. Another concern is that institutional budgets may need to be adjusted in order to provide funding for the article processing charges required to publish in many open access journals (e.g. those published by
BioMed Central BioMed Central (BMC) is a United Kingdom-based, for-profit scientific open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers. ...
). It has been argued that this may reduce the ability to publish research results due to lack of sufficient funds, leading to some research not becoming a part of the public record. Unless discounts are available to authors from countries with low incomes or external funding is provided to cover the cost, article processing charges could exclude authors from developing countries or less well-funded research fields from publishing in open access journals. However, under the traditional model, the prohibitive costs of some non-open access journal subscriptions already place a heavy burden on the research community; and if green open access
self-archiving Self-archiving is the act of (the author's) depositing a free copy of an electronic document An electronic document is any electronic media content (other than computer program In imperative programming In computer science, imperative programmi ...
eventually makes subscriptions unsustainable, the cancelled subscription savings can pay the
gold open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers. With open access strictly defined (according to the 2001 definition), or Gratis versu ...
publishing costs without the need to divert extra money from research. Moreover, many open access publishers offer discounts or publishing fee waivers to authors from developing countries or those suffering financial hardship. Self-archiving of non-open access publications provides a low cost alternative model. Another concern is the redirection of money by major funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the
Wellcome Trust The Wellcome Trust is a charitable foundation focused on health research based in London, in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (August 21, 185 ...
from the direct support of research to the support of open access publication. Robert Terry, Senior Policy Advisor at the Wellcome Trust, has said that he feels that 1–2% of their research budget will change from the creation of knowledge to the dissemination of knowledge. Research institutions could cover the cost of open access by converting to an open access journal cost-recovery model, with the institutions' annual tool access subscription savings being available to cover annual open access publication costs. (2007
"The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"
. In: Anna Gacs. ''The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age''. L'Harmattan. 99–106. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
A 2017 study by the
Max Planck Society The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (german: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.; abbreviated MPG) is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German German(s) may refer t ...
the annual turnovers of academic publishers amount to approximately EUR 7.6 billion. It is argued that this money comes predominantly from publicly funded scientific libraries as they purchase subscriptions or licenses in order to provide access to scientific journals for their members. The study was presented by the Max Planck Digital Library and found that subscription budgets would be sufficient to fund the open access publication charges, but does not address how unaffiliated authors or authors from institutions without funds will contribute to the scholarly record.


See also

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Copyright transfer agreement A copyright transfer agreement or copyright assignment agreement is an agreement that transfers the copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible cre ...
*
Royalty-free Royalty-free (RF) material subject to copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and ...
*
Royalty payment A royalty payment is a payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset. Royalties are typically agreed upon as a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the use of an asset ...


References


Further reading

* University of California Libraries (2016
Pay It Forward: Investigating a Sustainable Model of Open Access Article Processing Charges for Large North American Research Institutions
* * * Guy, M., Holl, A. (2015
Article Processing Charges
''Briefing Paper, PASTEUR4OA project'' {{Open access navbox Open access (publishing) Academic publishing Publishing