Publishing your article or work in journals might require a certain amount of fee. There are pre-publication and post-publication fees. Pre- publication fees are membership fee or submission fee and they are not that common while the post-publication fees such as page fee or article processing fee are more common. When you want to publish your work and you are in the market for the right journal to publish manuscript, you might be surprised to see the different kinds of journal available and the different author fees.
Different kinds of journals charge differently. It is often misquoted that libraries associated with institutions pay to access contents in traditional journals that charge on a reader-pays system while open access journals that have ‘’unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse’’ charge on an author-pays model. What is true is that an author may have to pay submission fee in a journal that is subscription based while you might not have to in an open access journal. You might not have to pay submission fee in an open access journal because there are other sources of income that cover the cost of editing, peer review and publishing, these other sources include advertising, paywalled premium content and also subsidy by a society, organization or foundation that is affiliated with the journal. Even for traditional journals and open access that collect author charges, it might not be in full due to discounts in relation to institutional membership programs, author’s society membership or waivers of service (such as when there is no need for in-house copyediting). There are also times that you might not pay both full and discounted fees because the fees had been covered by your institution or department of funder or due to the economic status of your country of origin or its financial hardship. Most times, for open access publications, only about 5-12% of the fee is paid by the author.
The following are the fees associated with publishing your research work.
Pre- Publication fees
Submission fees: This can be collected by both the subscription-based journals or open access journals so as to pay for editorial and peer review. This can stop an author from submitting their work (s) since there are plenty journals that publish without submission fees but submission fee can increase the speed of publication because there is a reduction in competition for reviewing and accepting of author’s works. When submission fee is paid, it increases the quality of the journal and might also enhance the impact of those journals. It can also boost the quality of the submissions as only authors that think they are working with the right journal will agree to paying submission fee. Submission fee is also likely to motivate accountability by journals since authors will want high quality peer review and a reasonable reason if their manuscript is rejected.
Membership fees: Some journal charge membership fee to fund the peer review, editorial process and publication of works by members that can be once or twice or unlimited in a year. Every author of a manuscript pays the fee individually and also support the society e.g. by peer review. Membership fees can also be paid after manuscript acceptance but it might be more expensive. As a member, works are likely to be speedily published and authors also avoid paying pre-publication and post-publication fees every time they have to publish.
Post- Publication fees Post-publication fees can be paid alone or alongside submission fee.
Publication fees: These are also called Author Publishing Charges or Article Processing Charges (APCs) and they are majorly charged by open access journals after accepting the manuscript for publication. These charges may reduce due to submission fees especially in open access journals with a high rate of rejection. Most times in open access journals, these fees are to fund peer review and dissemination online. In traditional journals, it is mostly to cover peer review management by editorial board or staff, copyediting, production of journal, open access online publication, indexing and archiving.
Page/color printing fees: This fee is to fund the cost of printing, especially color printing. Some traditional journals can charge based on the number of pages or just the color figure. Sometimes, supplementary materials are used and they incur charges, they will be separately charged.
Be wary of ‘’fake’’ journals that receive these fees so as to give the minimum amount of peer review and article processing. A true open access journal with have ‘’unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse’’ i.e. the articles must be freely accessed by readers and can also be freely copied, distributed or reused [of course, with proper citation of author(s)] although some journals do not support reuse. To be on the safer side, try checking your journal of choice in the Directory of Open Access Journals. When you want to choose a journal, the charges should not be the main reason for choosing a journal, just make sure the journal is the right fit for your scope of your work and personal goals.