5 SPEC Kit 353: Funding Article Processing Charges
one considered the journal impact factor, and another had the author’s department chair vet the journals.
The request-for-funds forms typically ask whether the authors have other funds available.
While 20 out of 33 libraries responded that all members of their community are eligible to
receive funding, comments from some of them reveal that they actually do allow all faculty, staﬀ, and
enrolled students to apply. Ten libraries explicitly exclude undergraduate student authors, although
one library commented that they probably would consider proposals from undergraduate students. At
one institution undergraduate authors must submit a letter of support from their faculty advisors. Some
institutions have informal criteria, including “staﬀ assessment of the merit and need of the particular
researcher.” At another “postdocs and assistant professors were more likely to receive funding than
Among those institutions that do not distribute or prorate APC awards among multiple
authors, two extremes exist. At one extreme, every author from one institution on a multi-authored
article is considered fully funded, which discourages collaborations. At the other extreme, every article
is considered for funding as if it had only one author. The lack of cost sharing has been noted in the
literature, since the primary author typically covers publication costs.10 Sharing costs with funders, or
with other institutions on co-authored papers, would reduce the ﬁnancial pressure on funds. However, in
one study librarians thought such a process would be too ineﬃcient.11
We did not ask about an annual limit on the number of articles an author could get funded.
However, comments for the funding caps question indicated that 78% of libraries limited authors to one
article per year. Survey comments reveal that some funds discourage authors from applying for APC
support more than once, and other libraries evaluate each APC request on its own merit. The literature
shows that two funds use a point system to determine or prioritize fund recipients.12
Fifteen libraries submitted their APC request forms. All of them ask for the name of the person
requesting the funds and that person’s email address. The only other common element is the journal title,
though 14 ask for the article title. Twelve ask about the status or classiﬁcation of the author and about co-
authors, department aﬃliations, and whether other funds are available. Twelve also ask about the status
of the article, with seven asking if the article has been accepted and six asking about the expected date of
publication. Eleven ask the amount of funds being requested and ten ask for the publisher, with only ﬁve
asking for a link to the OA policies.
Procedures for managing OA funds are highly variable and dependent on internal administrative
processes. Policies may fluctuate according to the levels of funding that are available.
Libraries That Do Not Support APCs
The majority of responding libraries (62%) have either discontinued their APC fund or have no plans to
start one. The most common reason was lack of funding; many indicated they had exhausted available
funds. Several libraries responded that continuing the APC fund was “unsustainable.” We interpreted this
to mean that funds were insuﬃcient to keep up with the demand. Only four libraries stated that lack of
author interest led them to discontinue the APC fund.
At least two libraries commented that they did not view supporting APCs as helping to promote
a broader transition to OA initiatives. These comments were echoed by the libraries that have no plans
to initiate a fund. Skepticism about how APCs advance the goal of OA was pervasive. According to one
respondent, “APCs are not particularly a cost-eﬀective or scalable mechanism for furthering open access.”
Another library that discontinued APC funding despite positive feedback from authors stated, “[s]ince the
purpose of the Fund is to promote a broader transition to OA publishing ...the $25,000 allocation could
be spent more eﬀectively on other initiatives, including memberships and pledges with innovative open
access journal and monograph publishers, and library publishing cooperatives.”