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Open Access Discussions

Minimizing Publishing Costs for Open Access Articles


Dr. Danny M. D’Amore, Publications and Marketing Specialist

March 2022

Open access is a scholarly publishing model that makes research available to all readers at no cost to them—that is, papers and studies are not being hidden behind a paywall. However, to publish your research open access, an article processing charge is often required. Unfortunately, this cost may be restrictive for researchers, as many scientists do not have the funds to pay these publication fees.

How can you reduce the cost of open access publishing?

There are many options that will assist you in achieving this objective. One is including open access publishing fees when applying for grants (if acceptable under your funding body’s rules) or leveraging opportunities to reduce the fee to one you can manage. While budgeting for these fees in your grant-writing process is fairly straight forward, below are suggestions to find opportunities if you are already past the grant-writing stage in your research.

Checklist of essential information to include:

Submit to journals or publishers who provide waivers. For example, Elsevier, Wiley, and SpringerOpen offer waivers to individual authors. Elsevier reviews requests on a case-by-case basis, while SpringerOpen and Wiley uses a country’s income level to gauge waiver offers. If you are not sure if your target journal belongs to one of these publishing houses, do a quick search or contact their editorial support before submission so you are not disappointed later.
Choose a journal with reduced fees. For example, PeerJ offers lower fees than some other journals, which may be a more viable option if you do not qualify for journal-based waivers.
Check with your university or institution. Universities may have programs to help authors pay for publishing fees or may provide researchers with waivers. If you are not sure if your university has such a program, make sure to check in with your financial officer. Check your dean’s office to find their information.
Do collaborative work. Not only does collaboration help improve your research and discussion but splitting the cost across several scientists instead of trying to foot the bill yourself will make a fee easier to handle.
Reduce the number of figures, tables, or pages. If possible, and if your target journal remains in print, use black and white instead of color if your target journal charges a difference. Reducing figures and tables will help reduce overall costs by reducing the length; figures also cost more if they are detailed and/or colorful. Combining figures or providing a supplement might provide some financial relief.
Avoid predatory journals and publishers. These fraudulent entities will often solicit you through email, but sometimes, they advertise themselves. The costs are often just as high if not higher than legitimate publishers, but your paper will suffer by being associated with these journals. If you unsure if a journal is predatory, check out Think.Check.Submit. or the list from the Directory of Open Access Journals. Both of these resources are updated regularly.

The fees associated with open access publishing may seem daunting at first, but there are several ways to overcome the hurdle. If you know ahead of time you want to publish open access, include publishing fees in your grant submissions. Many funding bodies will provide money for researchers. After checking with funders, check with your publishers and institutions. Between these three pillars, you should be able to find the financial support you need in order to publish your work open access.

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