An Article Processing Charge, often abbreviated APC, is a fee which some publishers require authors to pay in order to make their work open access. Some open access journals charge an APC for every article they publish, while some (non-OA) journals allow authors to make their work open access if they pay an APC.
APCs, like journal subscription costs, vary widely by publisher and by subject area. Many APCs are $1,000-$2,000, but some journals charge as high as $11,000 per article. The OpenAPC project provides data on APC costs.
If a journal requires authors to pay an APC, it should be clearly stated in their editorial or author guidelines. Surprise fees, sprung on authors late in the publication process, may indicate the publisher is less-than-reputable.
For works covered by Public Access requirements put in place by the NIH, NSF, and other funding agencies, most publishers allow a version of the work to be deposited in an appropriate repository. Your subject librarian can help determine the publisher's policies regarding how and where you can deposit your work.
There is a very diverse array of Open Access journals which do not charge APCs. The Directory of Open Access Journals (or DOAJ) has a search which allows you to browse OA journals by subject area and limit your results to journals which do not charge APCs.
If you'd like to make an existing or forthcoming work Open Access, many publishers have policies permitting authors to deposit a version of their work in an Institutional Repository like DigitalCommons@WayneState. The version of the work which can be deposited, and when it can be made available, vary from publisher to publisher. You can always reach out to your subject librarian for assistance in this regard.
Before you sign an agreement to transfer copyright for your work, consider retaining some of your rights as an author of the work. The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others without affecting the copyright agreements or licenses of any coauthors. This compromise can be achieved through an addendum attached to the transfer agreement. We have an example of such an addendum linked elsewhere on this guide.
The WSU Libraries are not currently able to assist with the payment of APCs.
We encourage researchers who are applying for grant funding to include APCs in their grant proposal, especially if they are hoping to publish with a large OA publisher such as PLOS or Springer Nature.
In very rare cases, a publisher may provide support for the payment of APCs. Linked below are publisher-specific pages with information on these policies.
Two possible sources of discounts on APCs are individual professional society memberships and institutional subscriptions.
These policies are not always obvious, so you may want to reach out to your subject librarian for assistance in determining what APC discounts you may be eligible for.