Flexible models for funding open access in journal publishing

Open Access Benchmark

Benchmark comparing 9 different funding models promoting Open Access publishing

One of the main challenges that the Open Access movement faces is to explore (more) economically sustainable models to embrace and support an inclusive openness (not only for a few). In this post we present a work-in-progress including nine remarkable cases that pursue OA and flexible funding models.

An overview of this benchmark comparing these nine different funding models adopted to promote Open Access shows that although most of them are significantly subsidised is interesting to see how their approaches are complementary and not mutually exclusive. Common patterns are also: low fees, reduced fees for low-income countries, adoption of Creative Commons licences, as well as flexibility.

This benchmark includes the following cases: Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE), Ubiquity Press, PeerJ, Open Library of Humanities, Co-Action Publishing, African Journals OnLine (AJOL), SCOAP3 consortium, eLife and F1000Research. [details provided in SlideShare or GoogleDrive].

Here a summary of this revision:

  • Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE): Charging a publication fee to the authors, institutions or funders for each article published (aka, article-processing charges APC). It includes a Low- and Middle-Income Country Assistance.
  • Ubiquity Press: Also based on an article processing charges (APCs) covered by an author’s institution or sponsor, but where appropriate they waive or reduce APCs to ensure cost is not a barrier to publication.
  • PeerJAuthors who choose to pay for a publishing plan at submission get the cheapest rates ($99), authors can choose to submit for ‘free’ and pay only once accepted – in that instance their publication rates are slightly higher. Also includes a fee waiver, on request, to anyone from countries classified as Low-income economies.
  • Open Library of Humanities: Open in both monetary and permission terms. It propose an economies of scale model of Library Partnership Subsidies to collectively fund the venue and its array of overlay journals [starting in 2015]. To fund an operation publishing 250 articles and 12 books in partnership are need a banded average of just $700 from 500 libraries. They also waive or reduce APCs to ensure cost is not a barrier to publication.
  • Co-Action Publishing: Author’s publications are freely published in an OA online edition.A printed edition of the publication can also be produced at a low price. The project is funded by the Swedish Royal Library and include other sponsors (advertising revenue).
  • African Journals OnLine (AJOL): Allows free access to thousands of article abstracts, and offers a progressively charged article download service for researchers and librarians to access full text of individual articles. Fees are defined according to the income of the user’s country (It includes a Low-Income Country Assistance.). AJOL hosts over 400 peer-reviewed journals from 30 African countries
  • SCOAP3 consortium: They adopt a large-scale innovative economic model based on an international consortium of libraries and funding agencies which collaborate to cover the costs of publishers and convert key journals in the field of High-Energy Physics to Open Access at no cost for authors.
  • eLife: It is a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences. It is sponsored by several founders agencies and donors.
  • F1000Research: It offers rapid open access publication, where articles are published first and peer reviewed after publication by invited referees. Research requires submitters to pay an APC for publication, but for those who are members of F1000 or are participating peer referees, a heavily discounted.

(access the file in Google Drive)



Fruin, C., & Rascoe, F. (2014). Funding open access journal publishing Article processing charges. College & Research Libraries News, 75(5), 240–243. http://crln.acrl.org/content/75/5/240