OA APC, page charges, and dilemmas for long-standing traditional journals

Publication fees are not new with open access. Page charges and extra charges for printing in colour have been a part of traditional subscription-based scholarly journal publishing for a long time. In some cases as we look at journals identified as having OA APCs, it is not clear whether these really are OA APCs or print-based publication fees for journals that are publishing in print as well as online. Update May 21: Machine Design provides really clear language in their Call for Papers indicating the print-based nature of their charges: “Conditions for paper publishing in the journal are:…that the publishing costs of 70 EUR (for one volume, four numbers), for costs of preparation, recension, printing, packing, sending by regular mail, taxes, etc. is paid”.

Anthropological Science, the official journal of the Anthropological Society of Nippon, provides an example of the language that is hard to interpret with respect to this question. Anthropological Science appears to be 123 years old, as the current volume is 123 and the volume numbers correspond with years. Following is the language from the publisher’s website, screen scraped May 19, 2015 from http://www.anthropology.jp/english/anthropological_science/173.html

Reprints and other charges

1) Reprints may be ordered at set price.

2) Authors are charged for additional costs incurred by figures redrawn due to bad quality and excessive changes in proof. Costs for color pages will be charged to the author(s).

3) Page charges: AS papers are accepted or rejected for publication strictly on the basis of merit. However, due to rising costs, a fee of 5000 Japanese yen (or US $50.00) per printed page will be assessed to those authors who have funds available for this purpose. Payment of page charges will have no effects on the future evaluations or handling of submitted and/or accepted manuscripts.


The language about the printed page and colour charges (common in a print-based environment as colour printing costs more) suggest that this is actually old-fashioned print-based page charges rather than an OA APC. The distinction is important because open access is about online literature. A journal that has been around as long as Anthropological Science has complexities in the shift to open access that newer born electronic journals don’t have. Dual print / online publishing is just one such complexity. There is also digitizing and making available online back issues. Authors who published in a print-based journal may not have granted permission for an online version. Creative Commons has only been around a little over 10 years, so a journal-wide CC license approach would involve a massive copyright clearance effort with authors who did not publish under CC terms originally.

Born digital may be less complicated, but converting traditional journals like these to open access is the best interests of scholarship. The DOAJ application form requires a Yes / No answer to the question “Does the journal have article processing charges (APCs)?” To me, it is not clear that either Yes or No is a correct answer to this question for this journal. Question 47 of the DOAJ application form asks “Does the journal allow reuse and remixing of its content, in accordance with a CC license? *” The response options are the CC licenses, No, or Other. Without doing the work of re-negotiating copyright with every author from the extent of copyright terms to today, the only options for this journal are No or Other. By forcing this choice, DOAJ may be putting journals like this at a disadvantage (a shame if we want traditional journals to convert) – or the question could be pushing journals towards No or Other when answers like Maybe, We Support Fair Use, etc., might be in the best interests of the re-use aspects of open access.

The Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine is a good example of print-based colour charges with nothing resembling an APC: “There is no charge for submissions and no page charge for accepted manuscripts. However, if the manuscript contains graphics in color, note that printing in color is charged”

Colour charges is not one of the variations we are tracking for each journal, but we often see mention of this with the page charges journals. These can be substantial. For example, Physiological Research has a page charge of 50 Euros per printed page but charges an additional 150 EUROs for each page printed in colour.

This post is part of the open access article processing charges project.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2015). OA APC, page charges, and dilemmas for long-standing traditional journals. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2015/05/19/oa-apc-page-charges-and-dilemmas-for-long-standing-traditional-journals/


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