Among the discussion of open access recently, there have been a few comments about the level of charges for open access publication. But of course many journals charge authors even without making their articles freely available. I think these charges are worth highlighting so that you can make an informed choice of journal.
Frequently these charges are to cover the cost of colour printing, which seems reasonable given that nowadays printed journal articles are a bonus not standard. But not all: some journals have submission fees (which I’ll cover in a future post), others have page charges, and I found two that even charge for supplementary material.
I’m not going to comment here on whether I think these charges are justified. But I suggest you take the charges into account when choosing a journal, and think about whether they represent value for money. If they go towards supporting a scientific society that you would like to donate to, for example, or if you feel that your paper will have its full impact only if printed in colour, you might be happy to pay. Also, if you can afford these charges, why not consider spending the money on making your article freely available instead?
In the past, print journals often charged authors for printing their article in colour, as colour printing was (and still is) more expensive than printing in black and white. With online publication there is no difference in cost, so it doesn’t make sense for journals to charge authors for colour for the online version of an article. But some journals are still charging for colour printing.
A few examples (with links to the relevant page) are:
- The Journal of Neuroscience (Society for Neuroscience) charges US$1000 per colour figure, but offers free colour when it is judged essential by the editors and when the first and last authors are members of the society.
- J Biol Chem charges US$150 per colour figure (with discounts for society members).
- Evolution (Wiley-Blackwell) charges $500.00 per printed figure. FEMS Microbiology Letters (also Wiley-Blackwell) offers free colour provided that the colour is deemed essential for interpretation of the figure, whereas another Wiley-Blackwell journal, Proteomics, charges €500 for one colour figure up to €1664 for four.
- FASEB Journal charges US$350 per colour figure.
- BMJ Journals all seem to charge £250 per article for colour printing, but the BMJ itself (pdf) does not.
- Of Oxford University Press journals, Bioinformatics and Human Molecular Genetics charge £350/US$600/€525 per colour figure, whereas Journal of Experimental Botany charges £100/US$190/€150.
- Some Springer journals charge for colour printing, but I wasn’t able to find out which ones.
- Similarly, some Nature Publishing Group journals charge for colour printing, but I wasn’t able to find out which ones. As far as I can tell, Nature and its sister journals with the word ‘Nature’ in the title have no charges.
- Elsevier’s author site seems to imply that all their journals have colour charges.
Journals that do not charge for colour printing include:
- BMJ (pdf)
- Nature, Nature Genetics, EMBO Journal, EMBO Reports and some other Nature Publishing Group journals
- Development, Genes and Evolution (Springer), as proudly proclaimed on their home page
- Company of Biologists journals (such as Development and Journal of Cell Science)
Page charges seem to be almost as common as colour charges, but there isn’t much logic as to which journals charge for what. Only one journal that I could find, Journal of Neuroscience, has publication fees per article (US$980, or US$490 for Brief Communications) – all others charge per page, sometimes over a certain limit. For example:
- FASEB Journal charges US$80 per printed page for the first 8 pages and $160 per page thereafter. Articles containing eight or more figures and/or tables cost an additional $150 per figure or table.
- J Biol Chem charges US$80 per page for the first nine pages and $160 per page thereafter (with discounts for society members).
The charges don’t seem to be consistent within each publisher.
- Of Oxford University Press journals, Bioinformatics charges £100/US$190 per page over 7 pages (or over 4 or 2 pages for shorter article types). Journal of Experimental Botany and Human Molecular Genetics have no page charges.
- Of Wiley-Blackwell journals, Evolution charges US$55 per printed page (but society members can have 12 free pages a year). Proteomics charges €196 (US$261) per page over 7 pages (or over 4 pages for shorter article types). FEMS Microbiology Letters and Synapse have no page charges.
- Some Elsevier journals have page charges. I tried a small selection: Journal of Structural Biology, Journal of Molecular Biology, Animal Behaviour and BBA Molecular Cell Research don’t have page charges, and I couldn’t find any that do.
- As far as I can tell, Nature and its sister journals with the word ‘Nature’ in the title have no charges. Some other journals published by Nature Publishing Group do have page charges, however. For example, EMBO Journal charges £158/US$242 per page (except pages containing only references). Obesity and Oncogene, two others that I checked, have no page charges.
- Some Springer journals charge for over-length articles.
Fees for supplementary material
I had never heard of the idea of charges for supplementary material until I was researching for this post. But FASEB Journal charges for supplemental ‘units’ (presumably files) at $160 each (up to four units are allowed), and Proc Natl Acad Sci USA charges US$250 per article for up to five pages of SI (US$500 over six pages). I haven’t come across any other journal that does this.