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publication fees - who is getting the bill?

Authors sometimes ask whether it is from a library account that any fees are paid which are charged in the publication process. Here we address this question for conventional publication fees - and also for a new type of fee that may be charged when publishing in an Open Access publication.

Publication fees of the old kind: Part of research costs


Sometimes authors of articles in a journal or rather their respective institutions are charged fees by the publisher. We are not talking about costs from 400 to 5000 €.

Publication fees may be charged under a number of circumstances, e.g. for color graphs (in the printed journal, mostly obsolete) or if authors submit manuscripts in non-standard form or if they request late changes to their manuscripts. Some journals like Phys. Rev. Letters still charge flat publication fees in order to share the productions costs between subscribers and authors.

Such publication fees are being paid from research accounts and have always been, but have to be processed with the HZB library in every case.

In contrast, library funds are for buying and licensing literature and for making literature available for users, they are not for creating literature.

The library does lend limited support for creating literature, e.g. for publishing in the series of HZB reports or for getting doi numbers for electronic publications, but still publication fees are considered part of the costs of research and accordingly are paid from research funds. Due to legal reasons, all such orders have to be processed by the HZB library, not with the electronic order system Ebiss.

The additional payment for colour graphics and front pages has a questionable effect, mostly because the journals are published online only (and then with colours without additional costs) and the paid advertisement with a front page is somewhat unethical. 

New publication paradigma: Gold Open Access

Open access to literature requires that new business models are found and implemented: in the absence of license fees for readers or their institutions the simplest alternative is to ask authors (or their institutions) to pay for the production of literature.

Journal models

Two distinctively different versions exist for such author fees:

  1. The journal sticks to the customary license model but authors may opt to pay a fee and thereby open their individual article for all readers (hybrid model).
  2. The journal's content is open for all readers and the production costs are covered by publication fees levied from the authors or rather from their institutions (Gold Open Access journals).

The hybrid model (1) is contentious as it comes close to double charging some institutions: once for licensing a journal and then again for opening articles for other, non-paying institutions.

The other model (2) however realizes the golden road to Open Access and merits support by anyone who favours free access to publications from publicly funded research.

Discussion is ongoing on how to implement model 2 while it is still not fully developed:

  • There need to be agreed standards for such publications. Fees need to be transparent or at least limited. Publications must continue to be quality assured. Publishers should be members of one of the associations of Open Access publishers. The scientific management people and the library have to solve these issues in strong cooperation.
  • In any research institution, reliable projections on the costs of Open Access publishing are impossible at the start of a budget year while the process is not yet well established. For a limited time, budgetary risks must be accepted as well as extra costs before subscription to some journal titles can be cancelled because more and more articles appear in Open Access journals.

We will keep you posted should there be any new decisions and regulations about the matter.

Processes for Open Access publications in hybrid and gold open access journals

  • The scientific OU management selects the journal (Gold-OA periodicals should be preferred) together with the authors and approves the publication according to the publication regulations.
  • The library have to be informed immediately and will sign the contracts or give the OU the appropriate power of attorney in individual cases.
  • The invoice is issued with the cost center of the OU and will be transmitted to the invoice receipt unit of the HZB.

Please note these special cases with DEAL partners (Wiley, Springer Nature), RSC and ECS:

  • All publications from corresponding authors at HZB in hybrid journals from Wiley, Spinger Nature (Springer and Nature journals), RSC and ECS will be made open access (license CC BY) by default. The APC fees for these transformation journals are paid centrally.
  • For publications at Gold Open Access Journals from Wiley, Springer Nature (Springer and Nature journals) a discount is granted. The orders and invoices of these will be processed centrally and the cost will be charged to the cost center of the OUs.
  • The APCs for publications in hybrid journals of RSC and ECS are paid by the library. 
  • The APCs for publications in gold open access journals of RSC and ECS will be charged to the OUs cost center.

All literature orders (OA publication orders are included) must be processed via the library.