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How often do authors pay APCs?

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The issue of APCs is one of the hottest topics related to Gold Open Access. In principle, publication charges should be covered by authors. This situation often discourages scientists from publishing in OA. However, in many cases, the fees are covered by dedicated funds administered by universities and research institutions. In addition, almost 70% of OA journals do not charge those fees at all. It does not change the fact that APCs do exist, but it is also true that authors do not have to pay them at all times.

How often do researchers have to reach into their own pockets? It is difficult to find aggregated data on the subject, but from time to time, some useful information appears in the internet.

A few weeks ago, Research Information released their findings from a survey conducted by BioScientifica Publishing. The data was collected from 904 respondents. 78 percent of them had a good knowledge of OA, and 44% had published articles in the model. The most interesting data is on publication charges. According to the survey, 72% of respondents stated that they had to pay page charges. However, only 30% paid the fees with their own money, while 50% of them covered it with funds from grants.

The situation is somewhat different in the case of SAGE. According to a press release, which is available on the official website, almost 70% of authors whose work had been accepted for publication, paid APCs personally, and only 15% of them paid APCs via external funds. However, this data is restricted to authors who published with SAGE Open.

Drawing from these two surveys, one can perfectly see how complex and heterogeneous the issue of APCs its funding is. The data from SAGE shows that a large proportion of authors cover the fees with their own money, but do bare in mind that this is based on an internal survey. The data from BioScientifica Publishing is based on a broader, more representative group, and in this case, the percentage of authors who paid such fees is much smaller. Furthermore, the figure of 30% only applies to those who have published in journals that levy APCs. At this point it is worth mentioning that in the SOAP data from 2011, which was based on responses of almost 23,000 scholars, reported that 50% published their articles without any fees.

APCs are a topic that will surely be discussed for a long time to come. OA publications are not costless, and this applies to both Green OA and Gold OA. However, more and more business models are being developed to allow a reduction or complete removal of fees charged to authors. It must be remembered though that the APCs do not mean that an author has to pay from personal funds. Many OA journals do not charge at all, and furthermore, there are new sources of special funding being opened by research institutions and universities, and the increasingly active role of governments in promoting OA opens new opportunities for publishing at low cost.

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