Open Access Publishing
What is an Article Processing Charge (APC)?
Typically APCs are paid by the author’s sponsor (funding agency or employer) and waived in cases of economic hardship. Few APCs are actually paid by the author, though practice varies across disciplines. Many funding agencies approve of grant funds being spent on APCs to publish open access. See Solomon and Björk (2011), Publication Fees in Open Access Publishing: Sources of Funding and Factors Influencing Choice of Journal [pdf].
How much do APCs cost?
How do I pay an APC?
Does Carnegie Mellon help pay Article Processing Charges (APCs)?
Many institutions are creating funds to help cover the cost of APCs to publish open access. With the unanimous recommendation of CMU’s Scholarly Communications Advisory Board, in 2013 the University Libraries created a fund to help faculty, post-docs, and graduate students pay APCs in open access journals if they have no grant funds that can be used to cover these costs. See Financial Support for Open Access Publishing for more information.
Why pay to publish open access when publishing in a traditional journal is free?
What is an open license? Why is it important?
Making your work available open access removes pay walls that bar access to it. This is called gratis open access. Licensing use of your open access work under an open license removes permission barriers as well as price barriers. This is called libre open access. The Budapest Open Access Initiative Declaration, signed by CMU Provost Mark Kamlet, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access [pdf] require libre open access.
- See the Guide to Open Licensing and list of Conformant Licenses for more information about open licenses.
- See Managing Your Own Copyrighted Work for more strategies for effective copyright management.
- See the Fair Use Policy of Carnegie Mellon University and Using Other People’s Copyrighted Work for more information about fair use.
Is open access needed in all disciplines?
Open access is about values, about leveraging technology to achieve mission‐critical goals to an extent not possible before the Internet, and about containing the escalating cost of journals. Open access is about generating and disseminating knowledge for the public good. It’s about engaging the public, earning their trust, and respecting their right to access and benefit from the fruits of higher education. It’s about democratizing knowledge, accelerating innovation, and growing the economy.
Subscriptions create barriers. Even if journal prices are not problems for you or your professional colleagues, they do prevent access by many independent scholars, colleagues at less well‐funded institutions, and the general public.
Why is open access needed as a business model?
Open access is more than a business model
Open access is driven by values. Open access leverages technology to achieve mission‐critical goals to an extent not possible before the Internet. It’s about generating and disseminating knowledge for the public good. It’s about engaging the public, earning their trust, and respecting their right to access and benefit from the fruits of higher education. It’s about containing the escalating cost of journals, democratizing knowledge, accelerating innovation, and growing the economy.
Open access addresses the affordability and accessibility problems. When consumers have no interest in the cost of something because someone else pays for it, their demand for it increases and, with no market mechanism to control prices, so does the cost. The disconnect between consumer and purchaser creates an affordability problem that can lead to an accessibility problem, when the intermediary who pays for the item can no longer afford to pay for it.
In many disciplines, this is what happened with scholarly journals. Researchers ignored or were unaware of the consequences of their choice of publisher because libraries paid for journal subscriptions, giving them what appeared to be free access to the journals. Increased demand led to increased costs. When prices began to escalate at a rate faster than inflation (the affordability problem), library budgets did not keep pace, so libraries had to cancel journal subscriptions (the accessibility problem).
Researchers in disciplines where price increases have led to journal cancellations are beginning to see the implications of their publishing choices on the health and functioning of the scholarly communication system. The author‐side pays business model is one way to engage authors in considering the implications of their publishing choices.
There are multiple business models to provide open access
The author‐side pays business model is not the only funding model for open access journals. Some are funded by philanthropy. Others are funded by a subsidy from the hosting university or scholarly society. Still others are funded by a combination of sources.
Note that Article Processing Charges (APCs) levied by open access journals that do have an author‐side pays business model are typically paid by the author’s sponsor (funding agency or employer), not the author. Many journals waive the APC in cases of economic hardship. The University Libraries provides financial support to help CMU author's pay APCs if they do not have other funding. See Financial Support for Open Access Publishing for details.