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What are the economic aspects of open access?

Publishers face considerable costs in operating and publishing journals and, therefore, high-quality publishing requires significant financial resources. Each publishing model has different ways of generating revenue to cover operating expenses, as shown below. For example, open access or hybrid journals offset costs by charging article processing fees.

Revenue Source Traditional Journals Open Access Journals Hybrid Journals

Charging to read articles via subscriptions and purchase of individual articles



for non-open access articles

Charging for reuse of published materials (ie, permissions fees)



for non-open access articles

Article Processing Charges (paid by the author for open access publishing)



Yes, for open access articles

Open access and the associated article processing charges (APCs) are relatively new to the publishing landscape.

APCs vary depending on


Different publishers charge different APCs, which are based on a variety of factors


APCs may vary between journals even if through the same publisher

Funding source

APCs may vary depending on an author’s source of research funding

Open access options chosen

Green vs Gold archiving and type of copyright license

There are several additional economic aspects to consider as open access publishing becomes more the norm. A discussion of some of these considerations was published by Jon Tennant and colleagues in their article in F1000 Research, “The Academic, Economic and Societal Impacts of Open Access: An Evidence-Based Review.”


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