11 SPEC Kit 353: Funding Article Processing Charges
The SPEC Survey on Funding Article Processing Charges was designed by Gail McMillan, Director of
Scholarly Communication, Leslie O’Brien, Director of Collections and Technical Services and Philip Young,
Scholarly Communication Librarian, at Virginia Tech Libraries. These results are based on responses from
77 of the 124 ARL member libraries (62%) by the deadline of August 1, 2016. The survey’s introductory
text and questions are reproduced below, followed by the response data and selected comments from
the respondents.
The open access (OA) approach to scholarly communication requires new business models for publishing
that counter traditional journal subscriptions. It promises to make scholarly literature more accessible
and more affordable, impacting researchers and readers, libraries and publishers, academe, and the public
alike. One approach is to require authors to pay article processing charges (APC) for publishing their
peer-reviewed articles in OA journals. As a result, a growing number of universities are establishing funds
to make the research published by their faculty and students publicly available.
This new and evolving business model affects many in the publication chain, with libraries playing
a significant role in arranging for and processing APCs. The purpose of this survey is to explore the
strategies that ARL member institutions are using to address APCs—including how the funds are
established and how they are handled (e.g., policies, applications, budgets, administration, outreach
activities, etc.), sources of funding, and whether and under what circumstances libraries are partnering
with other units (or other libraries) to fund this aspect of open access—and gather related policies and
procedures. The resulting data will inform the development and assessment of models of scholarly
communication, and will reveal common or best administrative practices that facilitate processing APCs
for the library community at large.
1. Does your institution currently have a fund that subsidizes article publication charges (APCs) for
open access scholarly peer-reviewed articles? N=77
Yes 23 30%
We had a fund but we no longer have one 14 18%
We’re planning to implement a fund in the future 6 8%
No and we don’t plan to implement a fund in the foreseeable future 34 44%
Survey Questions and
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