Why have I been asked to pay to publish my article?
Article Processing Charges (APCs) are charged to authors of scholarly articles during the publication process. APCs are typically used in lieu of subscription fees that libraries and readers traditionally have paid to gain access to research articles. APCs shift the burden of journal production costs (editing, peer review, hosting, archiving, preservation), to researchers from the subscribers. Paying an APC results in an article that is available to anyone with an internet connection. Corporate, non-profit, society, academic, and other publishers use a variety of fee structures to meet their income needs and expectations, and an APC model is one of them.
APCs should not be confused with page charges long associated with both print and digital publications. Page charges are used to cover administrative costs as well as the cost of print publication, but do not make the article available in an open access (OA) model.
There are many reasons why UNLV authors may choose to publish in a journal that charges APCs.
*Every author should read their contract with their publisher, ask questions, and suggest changes. A high quality journal will be very clear and open about their policies, including APCs - the cost, and any benefits that paying an APC gives authors.
Journal APCs vary greatly. Many OA journals are free to publish in and at the higher end of the spectrum APCs can be around $3000. Be sure and look at "information for authors" or similar to find a journal's fee structure.
Is it worth it?
In addition to the above reasons you may consider paying an APC, Eigenfactor.org, from the University of Washington, provides a tool to help determine value among OA journals that charge APCs. Filter the data by discipline to see titles of interest to you.
Sources of funding for APCs include
Predatory Publishers: Aggressive marketing to unsuspecting authors, fictional editorial boards, little or no peer review, unqualified reviewers, and generally poor editorial quality are issues that plague the journal publishing landscape. Regardless of whether a journal asks for an APC or is subscription based, authors can critically evaluate journals before submitting their manuscripts. Use the authors checklist for evaluating journals or Contact a Subject Librarian for assistance.
These sites provide some guidance for evaluating OA journals and may help authors avoid paying APCs to low-quality or even predatory publishers.
Multiple Income Streams. Many publishers of subscription-based journals offer the option to pay to make an individual article open (while other articles in the same journal remain behind a paywall). This means the publisher is receiving income from both subscribers and authors for the same journal.
If I want my article to be freely available, is paying an APC my only choice? Some journals allow authors to post manuscripts or final articles in scholarship repositories. Some authors choose to negotiate for the right to do so if the journal doesn't already allow "self-archiving."
UNLV as well as many other universities, organizations, and government agencies provide repositories - for free to authors. Digital Scholarship@UNLV, PubMed Central (NIH), PAGES (DOEnergy - in Beta), SSRN, and arXiv are examples.