A Plea for Fairer Sharing of the True Costs of Publication

Mariëlle Prevoo*, Ron Aardening, Ingrid Wijk, Tim Vines

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

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Under open access (OA), the public has immediate access to scholarly output free of charge. In the case of author-pays Gold OA, publishers charge scholars at acceptance for publishing the results of their research. Gold OA turns the
traditional library subscription business model by 180 degrees, from a consumer-paid to a supplier-paid model.

Funding agencies, governments, universities, and the publishing industry are exploring ways to change scholarly publishing to OA; for example, Plan S “requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms”.

The costs paid by authors under OA are called article processing charges (APCs). These APCs vary widely across journals, which cannot only be explained by variation in actual costs; market power plays a role there as well. However, the term processing charge is somewhat misleading, as authors who submit a paper that gets rejected in whatever phase of the process do not have to
pay. In other words, rejected articles do not contribute to covering their processing costs. The current pricing model is analogous to a university invoicing all graduating students for both the costs of their study program and the tuition fees of their peers who dropped out along the way. That hypothetical situation would strike most as unfair, and we would like to argue here that the current APC model is equally unfair.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)2-5
Number of pages4
JournalEditorial Office News
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • APC
  • Open Access
  • publishing
  • Scholarly communication
  • Academic publishing
  • Academic journals

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