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Funding Models For Open Access Publishers

Charging authors for article processing costs (APCs) is not the only economic model used by open access publishers to generate revenue. New approaches for earning cash to pay the costs of publishing a journal have arisen in recent years, including subscription-based models.

Funding For Publishers

Wooden hand model supporting tree trunk
Wooden hand model supporting tree trunk
  • With the support of three major research funders, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (United States) and the Max Planck Society (Germany), as well as the Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom), an open access journal devoted to high-impact and peer-reviewed research in the life and biomedical sciences has begun publication. Submissions are reviewed and publishing choices are made in a manner that is separate from the operations of the funding entities that provide the money. Instead, impartial academic reviewers are hired to do these tasks.
  • A number of publishers are modifying the traditional APC business model in a variety of ways while still preserving quality and long-term viability. One example of a modified paradigm is the "author membership" model, which is possibly best demonstrated by the new peer-reviewed journal PeerJ, which is now under development. The "author membership" model is one in which the author pays a price to become a member of the journal, and that charge grants the member the right to publish in the journal. Depending on the amount of membership that is paid, PeerJ offers membership options that allow for one, two, or limitless publications each year, depending on the level of membership that is purchased. The charge for membership is cheaper than the fee for many APCs, and once paid, there is no additional monetary cost to publish as a result of this arrangement. Other than that, the author's sole further requirement is to commit to commenting on or peer-reviewing the entries made by other authors.
  • Another paradigm that might be used is that of consortial membership within a certain subject. The most successful and well-known example of this strategy is the SCOAP3 collaboration, which involves participation in open access publication by the majority of the leading journals in a single subject (in this case, high-energy physics). According to the rules of the SCOAP3 consortium agreement, the participating journals agreed to begin publishing all papers open access (OA), and, in exchange, all subscription prices for consortium members are prorated. The grant is provided at no cost to the writers.
  • "F1000" refers to a publishing business that will publish contributions immediately after they have been submitted for open peer review and correction. The online magazine F1000 Research requires submitters to pay an article processing charge (APC) in order to be published; however, for individuals who are members of F1000 or who serve as peer referees, a significantly reduced APC is paid upon publication. Therefore, participation in a community sponsored by a publishing body in exchange for a lower payment for open access publication serves as an incentive to cash-strapped authors.
  • The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced a concept for open access (OA) in which authors who write articles in traditional toll-access ACS journals gain credits toward the publication of a future article that will be released OA at no cost in the future. In order to shift to their own open-architecture approach of conducting business, ACS is using this transitional plan.

Funding For Authors

  • Generally speaking, it is believed that Article Processing Charges (APCs) for publishing in an Open Access (OA) journal will be covered by a funding agency or the author's institution. Researchers who do not have a grant or other monies available to cover APCs may find the resources listed below helpful in securing financing for their study.
  • The Open Access Journal Funds is a list of funds that support open access journals that is updated by the whole open access community through the Open Access Directory (OAD). Universities, research institutes, charities, and government organisations may serve as host institutions for the funding, among other things.
  • A list of universities and institutes with central funds to cover costs for open access publication fees, as well as a list of funders willing to pay these fees or who allow researchers to use a portion of their funds to pay for open access publication, is provided by Co-Action Publishing, an Open Access scholarly publisher.
  • In North America, SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and University Resources Coalition) is a worldwide association of academic and research libraries seeking to build a more open scholarly communication system. The coalition maintains a list of campus-based open access publishing funds.
  • It is possible to find a list of universities that have pledged to support fees for open-access publication for articles written by their faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals without the need for additional funding from other institutions on the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity website.


While author processing charges (APCs) and institutional funding are commonly used to fund open access publications, the academic world has seen a growth in publishing models that encourage sustainability while relieving the load on researchers to obtain financial support for APCs. Many of these models are new and experimental, and it's unclear which will stick around in the long run. Other financial methods have evolved to support open access publication, with subtleties even within particular models.

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