Frequently asked questions

How should I calculate publishing costs to include on a research funding application?

The majority of publishers do not charge a fee to submit or publish in a subscription journal. However, if you intend to publish on the basis of immediate “Gold” Open Access, then the costs also known as Article Processing Fees (APCs) can vary widely between publishers. Depending on the specific terms and conditions of an external research funder, APCs may be an eligible cost on a research project. To help you calculate an appropriate budget for APCs on a research application, the Open Access Team have compiled a spreadsheet of the most expensive APCs we have paid for. Please note that fees are not static and may have increased, so please check with a publisher directly.

A helpful overview of average APCs by selected publisher is also supplied from this Sustaining the Knowledge Commons blog post.

Please note that Imperial has signed a number of “Read and Publish” agreements with publishers, any current agreements can be found on our Publisher agreements and discounts page. This means corresponding authors are not required to pay an APC. Other agreements also offer discounted rates for APCs.

For queries about open access agreements and discounts, please contact the Library's open access team.

Who will pay my open access fee?

Open access fees (or, as publishers call them, Article Processing Charges) for papers that are outputs of Research Councils UK (RCUK/UKRI), Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, or British Heart Foundation funding, can be paid for via block grants managed by the Library, dependent on certain conditions being met.

Please apply using the 'Deposit your work' function in Symplectic, and ensure that you link your work to the correct award or grant. The Library’s open access team will advise you further on receipt of the application.

If you are not funded by the funders mentioned above, your work may be eligible for the open access fee to be paid from the Imperial Open Access Fund. You must be intending to publish your work in a fully open access journal (i.e. all the journal content is open access) and not a ‘hybrid’ journal, which contains a mix of open access and subscription-only articles. Why? There is concern that access fees are being paid twice - once through subscriptions (by libraries) and again through publication fees. The cost of open access publishing also continues to rise with hybrid journals more expensive than fully open access journals. Hybrid journals according to the Wellcome Trust charge an average APC of £2,209, compared with £1,644 for a fully OA journal.

Make your application using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic.

Why do I have to give you an accepted manuscript when I make an APC application?

From 1 April 2016, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) requires that for journal articles and conference papers to be eligible for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), the accepted manuscript must have been deposited in a repository so that it is open access. To ensure that your work will meet this requirement, we are now asking all academic staff who want to request an APC payment to upload their accepted manuscript at the point of application.

I want to make an APC application. What do I do?

If your work has been accepted for publication, go to the 'Deposit my work' link in Symplectic.

You will need to enter the following:

  • Basic bibliographic information about your output (title, journal, date of acceptance, etc.)
  • Link it to any relevant grants
  • Upload a copy of the accepted manuscript and select 'Yes' for 'Do you want to apply for APC funding?' Selecting 'yes' will automatically generate an open access funding application.

Please wait until your application has been approved before requesting an invoice from your publisher. For help, please contact the Library’s open access team, see the deposit guide, or get in touch with your librarian.

When should I apply for open access publication funding?

You should apply for open access funding at the point when your journal article or conference paper has been accepted for publication.

How much does it cost to publish on open access?

This varies according to your publisher and should be clearly displayed on the journal’s web page. Some charge as little as $300, others up to $5000 per article. If it is unclear please get in touch with your publisher, or contact the Library’s open access team.

My work wasn’t funded by an external award or grant. Can I apply for an APC payment?

Yes. The College has a central open access fund for authors who don’t have access to any other source of funding to cover open access costs in fully open access journals ('Hybrid' journals are not eligible - see above) You can make an application using the 'Deposit my work' link in Symplectic.

My work wasn’t funded by an external award or grant and it’s not a fully open access journal. What can I do?

Firstly, find out if the journal is open access or hybrid via JournalTOCs.

If it is hybrid request a fee waiver. Many journals will consider the waiver of any publishing fee if you request it, citing you and your co-authors' unfunded status.

Remember that the vast majority of publishers allow you to deposit your author accepted manuscript, even hybrids, with imposed embargoes. By following the author accepted manuscript deposit route for REF you are making your research open access without paying. You can search publisher policies on self-archiving your paper online via SHERPA RoMEO.

By depositing your work in Symplectic upon acceptance with a journal you will be making your work open access via the ‘self-archiving’ route. You are also compliant with the HEFCE Open Access policy for REF 2021.

I’m a PhD student. Can I apply for an APC payment?

Yes. The Imperial Open Access Fund is open to Imperial research staff and students without sources of funding for open access costs in fully open access journals. If your research programme is funded by RCUK/UKRI, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK or British Heart Foundation you should comply with their open access policies, and we can charge any open access costs to those funds.

What billing address should I give to a publisher?

Please wait until you have received a decision regarding your open access funding application before requesting an invoice from your publisher. The correct address is:

Accounts Payable
Imperial College London
Level 3 Sherfield Building
London, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Is the College VAT exempt?

Yes. However, this does not mean VAT does not apply. VAT is charged on most open access fees.

To make sure you are taxed correctly in all instances provide the publisher with the College VAT number, which is GB649926678.

How long will it take for my APC application to be approved?

You will receive initial acknowledgment of your application within a day of submission and should receive a decision within 2-3 working days.

My publisher has told me I must reply in 24 hours if I want to pay

Please contact the Library’s open access team for advice. You should inform your publisher that you need to get approval for funding and will contact them again within 2-3 days. Your approval email will include further instructions.

My publisher has told me the open access fee must be paid in less than 30 days. What should I do?

You should inform your publisher that the College payment terms are that all invoices are paid within 30 days of the invoice’s issue date.  

My work is funded by RCUK/Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK/British Heart Foundation. Can I get open access fees paid for me?

Possibly. The College has received funds from RCUK/UKRI, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation to pay open access charges, but conditions apply. Please see Applying for funding for more details.

If you think you may be eligible for open access funding, please apply using the 'Deposit your work' link in Symplectic. Please link the relevant grant to your publication to ensure the open access fee is paid from the correct fund.

Why have I received an email saying that my APC application has not been approved?

Your notification email should provide the reason why an APC cannot be approved, and should have included information about making your work open access via the self-archiving or 'green' route.

Please contact the Library’s open access team or your librarian if you need more help.

Why do I have to give you an accepted manuscript when I’m paying for open access anyway?

From 1 April 2016 the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) requires that for journal articles and conference papers to be eligible for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, the accepted manuscript should be deposited in a repository within three months of acceptance. Regardless of whether the paper is due to be published open access – the Library needs to ensure that all publications for the REF are checked as open access.

I don’t know what the DOI is. What do I do?

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when your article is published and made available electronically.

Please leave this field blank if your publisher hasn’t yet provided a DOI - they are often not assigned until the point of publication. If your publisher has provided a DOI it will look like this 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003703.

My publisher has charged me colour, page and /or image charges, but there isn’t a field to enter these costs with my APC application. What do I do?

None of the open access funds cover these types of charges. You will need to use an active research award or department account to cover any other publication costs. Where possible, ask your publisher to invoice the open access fee separate from these other charges.

My publisher has included an invoice charge. Will the College pay this from the open access funds?

If your publisher has told you there will be a charge to generate an invoice, please include this information in the APC Comments field. Such costs are covered by the funds the Library holds.

I am funded by a Doctoral Training Grant. Can I apply for an APC payment?

Yes. Please include information about Doctoral Training Grants in the APC Comments field.

My APC application has been rejected. How do I make my work open access?

Your notification email should have included information about the 'green' open access route – how to deposit a version of your work in an open access research repository. Remember that depositing your manuscript for the REF is also the same green open access route. Please contact the Library’s open access team or your librarian if you have questions.

If you think your application has been incorrectly rejected, please contact the Library’s open access team.

I have asked for open access from my publisher and received an invoice before applying for APC funding

We cannot guarantee that funds will be available to pay APCs unless the application has been approved. If we have to reject your application for APC funding, we will not be able to pay your invoice, and you will have to arrange to pay it yourself, or contact your publisher to cancel your open access order. For that reason, we strongly advise that you do not request an invoice until you have confirmation from us that payment can be made.

If I am funded by Innovate UK or UK Space Agency can I apply for funding from the RCUK/UKRI block grant for apen access?

According to the RCUK frequently asked questions:

“Innovate UK and the UK Space agency are not part of RCUK, so unless the research is also funded by one of the research councils, the block grant cannot be used for this purpose.”

See RCUK Policy on Open Access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ 3.13) (PDF)