Let Authors Choose How to Pay for Peer Review and Publication – The Scholarly Kitchen

“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….”


“Tim Vines is proposing a middle way: “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.”

My problem here is with the absence of the 3rd choice — the old-fashioned one of free submission and free publication, with a nasty publisher selling the journal to subscribers (and of course making obscene profits by so doing)….”

Lancet editor-in-chief calls for ‘activist’ journals | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Academic journals must become more “activist” if they are to survive, seeking to “change the direction of society” rather than “passively waiting” for manuscripts, according to the editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

The medical journal is one of a number of titles now explicitly committed to helping pursue the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which range from eradicating hunger to reducing inequalities, as titles try to carve out a new role in a world where publishing has moved online….

Instead of “sitting in our office passively waiting for manuscripts to be submitted to the journal”, Dr Horton said, The Lancet, founded in 1823, now had a mission to “gather the very best scientific evidence, [and] to then think strategically about how that evidence fits within the overall trajectory of scientific and political policy in the world”.

For example, last year the journal published a report setting out how to eradicate malaria by 2050, backed by research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This was one of dozens of “commissions” initiated by the journal, which bring together experts to formulate proposals on subjects ranging from defeating Alzheimer’s disease to reforming medical education for the 21st century….

Still, some journals have faced long-standing criticism that their subscription costs mean they are unaffordable for readers in developing countries – or conversely, that the price of publishing an open-access article excludes scholars from poorer university systems.

Some publishers offer discounts to academics in poorer countries. The Lancet, for example, waives open-access publishing fees for scholars whose main funder is based in a state with a low human development index….”

Comments on “Factors affecting global flow of scientific knowledge in environmental sciences” by Sonne et al. (2020) – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  There are major challenges that need to be addressed in the world of scholarly communication, especially in the field of environmental studies and in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, Sonne et al. (2020) published an article in Science of the Total Environment discussing some of these challenges. However, we feel that many of the arguments misrepresent critical elements of Open Access (OA), Plan S, and broader issues in scholarly publishing. In our response, we focus on addressing key elements of their discussion on (i) OA and Plan S, as well as (ii) Open Access Predatory Journals (OAPJ). The authors describe OA and Plan S as restricting author choice, especially through the payment of article-processing charges. The reality is that ‘green OA’ self-archiving options alleviate virtually all of the risks they mention, and are even the preferred ‘routes’ to OA as stated by both institutional and national policies in Denmark. In alignment with this, Plan S is also taking a progressive stance on reforming research evaluation. The assumptions these authors make about OA in the “global south” also largely fail to acknowledge some of the progressive work being done in regions like Indonesia and Latin America. Finally, Sonne et al. (2020) highlight the threat that OAPJs face to our scholarly knowledge production system. While we agree generally that OAPJs are problematic, the authors simultaneously fail to mention many of the excellent initiatives helping to combat this threat (e.g., the Directory of Open Access Journals). We call for researchers to more effectively equip themselves with sufficient knowledge of relevant systems before making public statements about them, in order to prevent misinformation from polluting the debate about the future of scholarly communication.


Open Access for the Annals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology – Zareba – 2020 – Annals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology – Wiley Online Library

“In year 2020, the Annals enters 25th year of publishing scientific manuscripts: original papers, review articles, and case reports focused on noninvasive electrocardiology. During recent years, we have witnessed transformation of interests toward digital computerized assessment of ECG recordings and increasing use of innovative technologies monitoring ECG signal using different devices such as watches, patches, and other monitoring systems. Our journal became digital few years ago, and now in 2020, we enter the new era of Open Access journal in the spirit of easy access and widespread dissemination of scientific content of the journal. Starting from 2020, all papers published in the Annals will be fully accessible to readers all over the world following current increasing trends of widespread and unrestricted public access to scientific information….”

The FEBS Journal in 2020: Open Access and quality versus quantity publishing – Martin – 2020 – The FEBS Journal – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  The FEBS Journal, a leading multidisciplinary journal in the life sciences, continues to grow in visibility and impact. Here, Editor?in?Chief Seamus Martin discusses the potential impact of the ‘author pays’ publishing model on research quality, and some of the highlights at the journal over the past year.


New report on internal cost reallocation models within the Bibsam consortium – Kungliga biblioteket – Sveriges nationalbibliotek – kb.se

“Robert van der Vooren conducted a study commissioned by the National Library of Sweden about new ways of distributing publisher contract costs to Bibsam Consortium participants. The study is intended to be a basis when the Bibsam Consortium makes cost distribution future proof for full open access publishing….”

How Libraries and Funders Can Drive APC Transparency

“Following the success of the first of our librarian focussed webinar series in October, we’re kicking off our first webinar of 2020 discussing How Libraries and Funders Can Drive APC Transparency. We’re joined by Ashley Farley, Associate Program Officer of Knowledge & Research Services at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ashley will share from her experience working at a major research funder and highlight the importance of working together with libraries to ensure publishers are more transparent with their Article Processing Charges….”


The insanity (and probably illegality) of transformative agreements (including Plan S and Project Deal) – An Open Letter to Libraries and Coalition S | Gunther Eysenbach’s random research rants

“The reality is that libraries are used to negotiate with legacy publishers about subscriptions, and there has been no historic need to negotiate with OA publishers about anything, as they already do exactly what librarians or Plan S/Coalition S and other government entities want them to do – but open access publishers do need support, and need it more than those “poor” publishers like Springer-Nature who wants the transformative deals (all APCs covered) but is screaming and kicking having to abandon their hybrid journals which allows them to double-dip (getting paid for subscriptions AND article processing fees). Why are we spending public tax money to “help” commercial entities to switch to a different business model because they didn’t understand the sign of times 20 years ago? The situation is similar to a government wanting to switch from Internal Combustion Engine cars to electroc cars nationwide, and not subsidizing the costs for buying from Tesla, but only throwing money at GM and BMW to fund their costs to switch production.

In my 20 years of publishing fully open access journals, we have not once received a single dime (or $) of funding from libraries (other OA publishers, like Frontiers, MDPI, Plos, have more muscle and may have institutional agreements, but as niche publisher we simply do not have the market size and staff to negotiate with hundreds of universities/libraries)  – rather than being paid by libraries, it  is all our authors paying from their research grants. The only exception is our recent deal with the University of California (which frankly seems to be the only institution having the vision to support native OA publishers) – but it remains to be seen if other libraries/consortia replicate this model (our emails to Project Deal and other libraries who made transformative deals and are coveering the APC of large publishers, asking them to match the conditions they gave to Wiley and Springer have not been responded to at all). And to be clear, if you want to go with the “quality argument”, keep in mind that 4 out of the 8 leading health informatics journals are published by us.

If the general model changes in the future from APCs being paid by authors/research grants towards libraries picking up these costs, libraries/funders must ensure an “open-access first” policy, where APCs of native open-access publishers and their journals are equally paid or even paid first (i.e. transformative agreements should only be made for journals where no OA journal are in existence and where there is significant demand to publish in a former subscription/hybrid journal). And by the way, don’t use Web of Science or Scopus for these assessments (rather use DOAJ)….”

Emerald news – An HSS perspective on the mandatory criteria for transformative journals

“Dear cOAlition S,

This is an open letter to the funders, government bodies and institutions that support Plan S and will be submitted to the open consultation of cOAlition S draft framework for transformative journals.

We thank you for the provision of a draft framework for transformative journals and appreciate the opportunity to consult on the guidance. We are responding from the perspective of publishers working across the humanities and social sciences (HSS) who typically publish a large proportion of unfunded authors, be that by region, discipline or organisational setting. We remain committed to realising the benefits of full and immediate open access for our authors and their stakeholders and we appreciate the efforts of cOAlition S to date to engage with the wider discussion and assist smaller publishers to transition to open publishing models. Given that scholarship remains a global and collaborative endeavour, we urge cOAlition S to continue to be mindful of the unintended consequences for academic colleagues and disciplines that do not have the luxury of direct funding, or access to money for APCs from their organisation or institution.

The issues as previously stated in our open letter of 8th February 2019 remain a reality. Transformative agreements – and thus funding for APCs – are not available to all of the many varied publishers within the ecosystem. Globally there remain mixed approaches to achieving open access with many customers, including within Europe, preferring non-APC routes to open publishing. This includes green open access. Other models, such as subscribe-to-open, remain interesting but un-tested with respect to long-term sustainability….”