The Article Processing Charge model: what it means for authors

The Article Processing Charge model: what it means for authors

In the traditional academic journal publishing model, a research paper is submitted to the journal’s editors. If the paper is of good quality and fits the journal’s scope, it is put through peer review, which will help the editors decide if to accept or reject it – perhaps subject to revisions.

The paper will then be available to institutions and individuals who subscribe to the journal or pay for the article.

In the Open Access model, the process is similar, but when an academic paper is accepted for publication, the authors, funders or institutions pay an Article Processing Charge (APC). This means that the published article is free to read for everyone. Charges vary in scholarly publishing, depending on a journal’s scholarly reputation and the field, from a few hundred pounds to several thousands, because publishing a journal article in this publication can increase the reputation of an author and boost his/her academic career.

In Open Access journals, a paper or article is not behind a paywall, so a publisher recovers the costs of processing and publishing through APCs. Articles that are available to read for everyone in international journals benefit unaffiliated researchers who don’t have access to an institutional library and institutions in developing countries that cannot afford to subscribe to many journals.

APCs have become the dominant business model for Open Access journals, particularly with commercial publishers. While APCs tend to be higher in hybrid journals, some pure Open Access publications do not charge an APC if they are funded by institutions or membership models. In other cases, Open Access journals that charge low APCs offset costs by online availability, supported by streamlined technological processes – which does not incur many publication and distribution costs.

Many funders are happy to pay for APCs to diffuse the research as widely as possible and some institutional libraries offer offsetting deals (known as Transformative Agreements) to researchers who wish to publish Gold Open Access, enabling the researchers to publish at no cost or at a reduced fee. In some cases, academic journal publishers might waive the fee in case of hardship or geographic location – for instance if the researcher is based in a low-income country.

Overall, APC prices are based on these criteria:

  • Journal’s quality and reputation
  • The journal’s editorial and technical processes
  • Competitive considerations
  • Market conditions
  • Other revenue streams

When considering an Open Access journal with an APC model as an author, please check the terms and conditions, and carefully evaluate the benefits provided by the scholarly publisher.

If you are considering contacting us for your Open Access journal, Sciendo has a special offer centred on the APC model for journals with a good Impact Factor. Find more here.


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