“As has been noted before, charging a submission fee and a publication fee is a fairer system, largely because authors cover the costs of reviewing and publishing their own articles. Authors are not responsible for costs incurred by anyone else’s submission, and the fees for each article are correspondingly much lower. For example, as I laid out in a previous post, one can approximate the APC at a wide range of journals through the formula (1/acceptance rate)*350 + 850. Authors of accepted articles only pay a $350 submission fee and $850 publication fee, for a total of $1200, even at selective journals with very low acceptance rates. For a 25% acceptance rate, the equivalent APC without a submission fee would be around $2250, for a 10% acceptance rate the APC would be $4350.
However, there is widespread apprehension that introducing submission fees will deter authors from submitting to fee-charging journals in favor of those that don’t have such charges. Editorial rejections are a big driver of this concern: it is frustrating to spend several hundred dollars to submit your article only to have it back in your inbox within ninety minutes. This situation can be alleviated by further separating the fees into a small submission fee, a fee for peer review, and a fee to cover the costs of publishing the accepted article (see an upcoming Scholarly Kitchen post for a proposal about this). Nonetheless, there is a world of difference between free and every other amount, and even a very small mandatory submission fee may deter authors.
An alternative is to give authors a choice of how they pay for their article:
Pay a submission fee to cover peer review, with an additional publication fee if their article is accepted, or
Submit for free, but pay a (much higher) APC if their article is accepted
Offering this choice could be a simple way to bring journals into compliance with funder APC caps: affected researchers can choose the submission & publication fee (hereafter “sub/pub”) option, which should always be lower than the straight APC….”