Is that open access publishing fee worth it?

Shelves in a library showing journals where researchers publish a scientific paper.

Open access publishing offers readers free access to articles published online, in contrast to a model where articles are available through an individual or institutional subscription to the journal. Most often, authors (or their institutions) pay an open access publishing fee when the manuscript is accepted. The fees can range from $75 to over $3,000 per article, depending on the journal.

I often mention the open access publishing option to clients when we’re discussing journal selection. Many studies have shown that open access articles are cited more often than non-open access articles (see an annotated bibliography of Open Access Citation Advantage by A. Ben Wagner and a recent report from Nature Communications).

Some clients want to know if paying the open access publishing fee is worth it. A recent paper ranked the relative cost-effectiveness of publishing in journals that are entirely open access.

Top 10 cost-effective journals (paid)
  • Publication of the Astronomical Society of Japan
  • Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
  • Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
  • Oceanography
  • DNA Research
  • Molecular Medicine
  • PLoS Biology
  • PLoS Genetics
  • PLoS Medicine
  • Evolutionary Bioinformatics

The authors of the paper developed an online tool to personalize the analysis of open access publishing fees in 50 diverse disciplines.

Find out whether the open access journal that you’re thinking about submitting to is a good deal. There’s no perfect open access journal; each situation is different and you should consider what is most important to you.