Paying for open access

Some open access publishing routes require you to pay a processing charge to the publisher. There is no causal link between payment amount (or presence), academic quality and open access availability. Costs are set by the publisher and reflect internal calculations. Authors are urged to assess publication venues on their academic merit and not the cost of publication.

This page outlines Oxford University affiliated author's options for paying for open access processing charges.

On this page


Paying for article processing charges

When required by the publisher, open access for short form publications like articles and conference proceedings are paid for using an 'article processing charge' (APC). This charge can average between £2-3,500 but can be as high as £10,000. The University of Oxford has the below options available to authors. Some payment options are subject to the publication acknowledging specific funders, who have provided funds for this payment, while some are available for all Oxford authors regardless of funding status.

Please note: other publishing charges such as page or colour charges are not considered APCs.

If you are unfunded

If you don’t get any funding for your research, there are three ways to achieve open access that do not require the author to pay for it.

  1. Publish in a diamond/platinum open access journal. These journals subsidise open access publication and do not have APCs.
    Search for a diamond/platinum journal on DOAJ  
  2. Publish in a journal covered by a University of Oxford publisher agreement. Journal titles included in these deals have their APCs covered by the cost of the deal itself. Any Oxford University corresponding author can make use of these deals.
    Check if a publisher is part of a deal
  3. Publish in a journal which allows self-deposit. To find out if a journal allows this option, find it on Sherpa Romeo and check their policy for the 'accepted manuscript'. If they allow it, you can deposit your accepted manuscript into the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). The ORA team will ensure any embargo is followed. There is no cost for this.
    Search for your journal on Sherpa Romeo

If you have acknowledged research funding

If you have acknowledged research funding for your article or conference proceeding, there are two ways to get funding for your APC:

  1. Oxford manages four APC block grants, supplied by specific funders and available to authors who acknowledge their research funding. You need to apply for these block grants via the University’s Open Access Payments Team (OAPT).
    Learn more about applying to the APC block grants
  2. Other funders have alternate routes to apply for open access funds. You can check details on their policy page. If you are not sure how to access these funds, you are very welcome to seek advice via the open access helpdesk.
    Find out how your funder will supply funds for APCs

Paying for book processing charges

Publishing services will vary depending on the publisher you choose. However, they should not depend on whether or not you pay a fee. Regardless of any fee or subsidy, you should expect your book to be peer reviewed. As a rule, you should expect the same level of publishing service for your open access book as you would for a non-open access book.

Some funders will provide funding for open monographs and there are also publishing models that do not require you to pay (see below).

If you are unfunded

If you don’t get any funding for your research, there are two ways to achieve long-form open access that do not require the author to pay for it.

  1. Publish a diamond/platinum open access monograph. These publishers subsidise open access publication and do not have book processing charges (see below for some schemes which Oxford University is part of).
  2. Publish with a publisher that allows self-deposit. Check our book chapter page for more information. If they allow it, you can deposit your accepted manuscript into the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). There is no cost for this.
    Check publisher policies for book chapter deposits

If you have acknowledged research funding

If you have acknowledged research funding in your monograph or book chapter, there are certain funders who will pay processing charges. Please see their individual policy pages for details on how to access these funds.

NOTE: UKRI is the sole funder with a BPC application process through the University, any other funders offering payment have their own individual processes.

Business models for open monograph publishing

Publishers use a variety of different business models to support open access book publishing. Some require a fee to be paid by the author’s funder or institution, but many do not. If there is a fee, the amount may depend on what other sources of revenue are available to the publisher to subsidise it. 

Scholarly book publishing is a diverse field. This means there is no single model that could support open access book publishing on its own, and no business model that is ‘the best’. It is likely that different publishers will continue to operate different models.

[The edited accordion text below is courtesy of OAPEN (2021) CC BY-NC]

A fee is charged by the publisher in order for the ebook to be made open access; usually all ebook formats will be open access. The fee is typically paid by the author’s funder or institution. 

Examples: Bloomsbury, Brill, Cambridge University Press, De Gruyter, Elsevier, InTechOpen, MDPI, Oxford University Press, Springer Nature (including Palgrave Macmillan), Stockholm University Press, Taylor and Francis (including Routledge), University of California Press (Luminos).

Individuals pledge fees to make a book open access; once enough individuals have confirmed participation, and the target amount is achieved, the book is made open access. 

Examples: (typically in collaboration with publishers, for example Cambridge University Press, Open Book Publishers), self-published authors  

The Book is initially sold as it would be under traditional publishing, once the book meets a set target sales figure it is made open access. 
Examples: CUP’s ‘Flip it Open’.

A version of the ebook is made open access or freely available at no charge to the author; the free access is subsidised by other revenue sources, such as sales of other e-formats, print sales and/or library membership fees. 

Examples: OECD, Open Book Publishers, OpenEdition, Open Humanities Press, Punctum Books.

An institution subsidises publication at an open access press based at, or associated with, the institution. Fees may not apply or may be discounted; academics based at the institution may receive additional discounts or fee waivers. 

Examples: Lever Press, UCL Press, University of Huddersfield Press, White Rose Press.

Libraries pledge a fee towards making a collection of books open access, covering some or all of the costs between them. Once enough libraries have confirmed participation and the target amount is achieved, the collection is made open access. 
Examples: Knowledge Unlatched, Transcript, COPIM, Bloomsbury Open Collections, MIT Press Direct to Open, New Historical Perspectives – University of London Press.

Libraries or other institutions pay an annual membership fee to a publisher that underwrites some costs of making books open access; the member institution and/or its authors may receive additional benefits such as discounts on book processing charges. 
Examples: Open Book Publishers, Punctum Books, University of California Press (Luminos), African Minds, Mattering Press.

Open monograph publication schemes supported by Oxford University

Oxford University supports a range of diamond open access monograph publishers and schemes. These schemes do not charge the authors to make their work open access, and have gone through a rigorous selection process to confirm that they are following best practice for both academic publication and open access.

Scheme supported Scheme description Type of model Further information
African Minds A small fully OA press with a focus on social sciences about and by African authors.  Library Membership Learn more about African minds
Bloomsbury Open Collections An OA scheme from a traditional publisher primarily focused on the social sciences. Library Consortium Learn more about Bloomsbury Open Collections
Mattering Press A small fully OA press with a focus on science, technology and society.  Library Membership Learn more about Mattering Press
MIT Press Direct to Open An OA book scheme, focused on offerings in humanities and social sciences, and STEAM (STEM plus art and design)  Library Consortium Learn more about MIT Press Direct to Open
New Historical Perspectives –
University of London Press
A collection of History monographs focused on supporting early career researchers in their initial publications. Library Consortium Learn more about New Historical Perspectives – University of London Press
Open Book Publishers A prolific fully OA press in the humanities and social sciences. Library Membership Learn more about Open Book Publishers