• Open Access

Editorial: Show Me the Money! How, as a Chemist, Can I Find Funding for Open-Access Publishing?



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How, as a Chemist, Can I Find Funding for Open-Access Publishing? This information is crucial to you, as author of an open-access paper. Read more by the Editors on p. 3 ff.

The How and the Why

In recent years open-access publishing has been the subject of fierce debate. While the jury is still out on the long-term effects of the movement, there is no question that open access is currently an important frontier in science communication. Although chemistry has been a little late to the table, funding mandates and institutional policies, such as those of the Wellcome Trust and the Research Councils UK (RCUK), are beginning to have an effect on the publishing habits of chemists.

Open-access publishing falls loosely into two categories: green and gold road. Green road open-access involves the archiving of the accepted (unedited) version, typically after an embargo period of 12–24 months. A good example of a mandated green road open-access policy is the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this instance, an agreement with the publishers was reached and systems put into place to ensure the upload of the accepted version to an appropriate online platform, i.e. PubMed Central. In contrast, gold open access involves the payment of a one-off article publication charge (APC) that means the published article—that is the fully edited and typeset version—is available through the publisher′s platform, the journal′s homepage and elsewhere immediately and under an open-access, typically Creative Commons, license. The gold road model, often preferred by readers, authors and editors alike, is the subject of this Editorial.

Many of the questions surrounding open access and its long-term success revolve around the financial aspects of publishing and maintaining resources such as online collections. There can be no question that high-quality publishing costs money, but who should pay? In the absence of a wealthy trust or charity backing an open-access journal, it is often (at first glance) down to the author to find the funding to meet the associated APC. As co-Editors of ChemistryOpen, we are often asked by chemists about potential funding sources and for advice on seeking the means to publish open access.

Funding is available for authors, and there are different possibilities for where the money can come from. In our opinion, assistance in meeting the APC for open-access publishing—be it only partially or in full—can be classified largely based on the source of the money, leading to four major categories: Funding Agency, Institute, Society, and Publisher. While the information below is by no means exhaustive, it may well provide you with ideas or inspiration on how you might seek funding for open-access publishing.

Funding Agencies

Many funding agencies request that authors publish in open-access journals or make use of hybrid models, where subscription-based journals offer an open-access option (e.g., Wiley′s OnlineOpen programme), to ensure the research results are widely and freely available. In these instances, funds are typically made available in a variety of ways. In some instances, researchers are required to allocate part of their grant to meeting these costs. In those cases, we would advise scientists to allocate approximately €2500 ($3000) per manuscript as these are typical APCs among quality titles from respected publishers. Alternatively, funders may offer the opportunity to apply for funds retrospectively, which usually involves some sort of application process.

Funding agencies also have the opportunity to make funds available to their researchers via the publisher. For example, a funding agency may have a Wiley Open Access Account—a prepaid pot of cash held by the publisher that can be used to meet the fees of open-access publishing. Typically the charge per article is greatly discounted, with the advantage to the author that they do not have to do anything beyond providing their grant number.

Academic Institutions

Universities and other academic institutions are beginning to set money aside or apply for grants from funding agencies (e.g., Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) to assist their faculty in publishing in open-access journals. While access to this money likely requires some sort of internal application system usually centrally managed by the university library, it is clear that this is an important resource in a research climate where funding is becoming ever more difficult to come by.

A number of universities and institutions have signed a Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity, wherein they “recognize the crucial value on the services provided by scholarly publishers” and “commit to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals”. Universities with schemes such as these include: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich and others. The Open Access Directory (OAD), hosted by Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College (USA), offers a list of available funds to support open-access publishing.

Universities may also hold publisher accounts, such as those described previously in the Funding Agencies section. Interestingly, the agreement with the publisher need not be for the full amount, but often can simply entitle authors to sizeable discounts in the APC. For example, for a fee, an institution can create a Wiley Open Access Partnership entitling their researchers to a 15 % discount on the APC.


Some societies offer assistance to their members when publishing in their own society journal(s). For example, ChemPubSoc Europe, a group of 16 European Chemical Societies, offer their members a 20 % discount on the associated APC when publishing in ChemistryOpen, their open-access title.

If you are curious about whether your society supports open-access publishing, we suggest you look at their homepage or contact them—societies with strong open-access policies, such as the Max Planck Society, should have information available to their members.


Through various avenues, decreased or fully waived costs are often offered by the publisher. Typically, for those researchers in less developed areas of the world, the fee is waived in full. Wiley certainly has a list of nations entitled to assistance in meeting the APC. There are sometimes marketing activities that involve discounts. ChemistryOpen recently began to offer exceptional reviewers a 20% discount; while at the Editor′s discretion, this serves to reward referees for their outstanding efforts for such a new journal.

Now What?

You have applied for funding; now it is time to submit your manuscript. We recommend that you 1) check the funder′s policy on where you can publish—some only allow publication in journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, do not permit publishing in hybrid journals, or require publication under a specific license; 2) check the journal′s policy regarding submission charges as these may not be covered by the funder. ChemistryOpen, as a society-owned journal, has no submission fee. The APC is only payable if the article is accepted for publication.

Armed with all this information, we wish you all the best in finding funds for open-access publishing, and of course, hope to see your next submission to ChemistryOpen in the near future.

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Dr. Karen J. Hindson



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Dr. Haymo Ross