Transparent price setting
Elsevier publishes journal articles under two separate models to suit author preferences:
- Subscription articles funded by payments for reading made by subscribing individuals or institutions.
- Open access articles funded by payments for publishing made by authors, their institution or funding bodies, commonly known as Article Publishing Charges (APCs).
We calculate pricing for each of these models separately. Subscription prices are set excluding open access articles; in other words, open access articles are not factored in when setting subscription prices. This fundamental principle is enshrined in our strict no double dipping policy.
At Elsevier, we publish more articles and at higher quality relative to other major publishers, yet our average list price per subscription article remains lower (by 2-3 times) than that of others. Since 2010, the number of articles submitted to Elsevier journals grew by 11%, and the volume of subscription articles published increased by 5% (compound average growth rate 2010-2021). Our average list price per subscription article grew by just 0.2% over that time (2011-2021) across our entire portfolio of journals.
Journal article price
See here for more information on Elsevier article volumes, value and quality.
Frequently asked questions on pricing
The fees that authors pay help to support the extensive work that goes into the editorial review, peer review and publishing process that ensures research is reliable and helps to accelerate progress for society
Our 2,700 journals enhance the record of scientific knowledge by applying high standards of quality in everything they publish and ensuring trusted research can be accessed, shared and built upon by others. In 2021, we received 2.5 million research papers from authors. These were carefully reviewed by our 2,000-strong in-house editorial teams in collaboration with 29,000 editors and 1.4 million expert reviewers around the world, resulting in over 600,000 articles being enhanced, indexed, published and promoted following a peer review.
Charging to read or publish enables us to make the investments needed to safeguard research integrity and to continually improve the publication process, making it easier and more inclusive. For example, to help our editors select the most relevant reviewers, we have developed tools to evaluate the suitability and expertise of millions of potential peer reviewers. This enables editors to reach beyond their own networks to make the process more inclusive and improve research diversity. It also allows us to invest in the dissemination of research, making articles discoverable on our platforms such as ScienceDirect and Scopus and building innovations such as the article recommender tool.
This thorough editorial and peer review process improves the completeness of an article’s version of record. For example, 94% of articles have content changes during the editorial stage in content, tables, figures and references, often in the fundamental design of the research. These processes and the advice provided to authors are an important part of ensuring the integrity and reliability of research. 90% of researchers say that the changes made by our journals teams to their articles improved the clarity of their research.
Ensuring research is reliable also means taking action to resolve claims of research error, unethical behavior, and even fraud. Our rigorous protocols and neutrality enable us to ensure this process is thorough and respectful for all involved. We have invested in tools and software, while our specialists investigate claims and liaise with institutions to resolve them.
We are constantly striving to be more transparent in all aspects of what Elsevier does, including pricing. We try to support requests for information within the bounds of financial reporting requirements and competition rules.
- We provide the price of publishing gold open access on each journal homepage and in a central list.
- During the publication process, we automatically notify authors who are entitled to free or discounted gold open access, for example where there is an agreement with their institution or funder.
- During the publication process, we automatically notify authors who are entitled to free or discounted gold open access because they are in a lower- or middle-income country. Our APC waiver policy explains this process.
- We provide a range of information on our website about our pricing competitiveness; how our pricing corresponds to quality; and publishing model uptake across subscription and open access.
- We publicly announce significant agreements, including our open access pilots.
- We provide a list of our journal subscription prices.
- We describe the process we follow to calculate list prices.
- We describe the process to ensure we do not double dip. We also show the number of articles that are published gold open access, and the number which are financed through subscriptions, on each journal homepage, to allow librarians to validate this.
We do not ‘double dip’. We can be reimbursed for an article in two ways – through an Article Publishing Charge (APC) to publish the article and make it available to read by everyone, or a subscription fee to pay for reading the article. We either charge for publishing an article or reading an article but we never charge for the same article twice. We have a strict no double-dipping policy.
Article Publishing Charges (APCs)
Irrespective of the publishing model chosen by the author, our goal is to ensure articles are published as quickly as possible, subject to appropriate quality controls, and widely disseminated.
Where an author has chosen to publish open access, which typically involves the payment of an article publishing charge (APC) by the author, their institution or funding body, we make their article freely available immediately upon publication on ScienceDirect in perpetuity with the author’s chosen user license attached to it.
Elsevier’s APCs are set on a per journal basis, fees range between approximately $200 and $10,100 US Dollars, excluding tax, with prices clearly displayed on our APC price list and on journal homepages.
Adjustments in Elsevier’s APCs are under regular review and are subject to change. We set APCs based on the following criteria which are applied to open access articles only:
- Journal quality (as measured by journal quality Field Weighted Citation Impact Tier);
- The journal’s editorial and technical processes;
- Competitive considerations;
- Market conditions;
- Other revenue streams associated with the journal.
A small percentage of titles may support more than one APC, for example when a journal supports one or more article types that require different APCs.
We do not vary the APC prices for our proprietary journals based on the user license chosen by the author. However, we also publish journals on behalf of learned societies or other third parties that reserve the right to determine their own prices and pricing policies. Any deviations in pricing from Elsevier’s standard APC price list per journal will be clearly displayed on the journal’s homepage.
Fee Waivers to support researchers
Our goal is to effectively bridge the digital research divide and ensure that publishing in open access journals is accessible for authors in developing countries.
We grant waivers in cases of genuine need, therefore we automatically apply APC waivers or discounts to those articles in gold open access journals for which all author groups are based in a country eligible for the Research4Life program. When publishing in fully open access journals, we fully waive all APCs for authors from 69 countries (Group A) and give a 50% discount for authors from 57 countries (Group B).
If an author group from a non-Research4Life country cannot afford the APC to publish an article in a gold open access journal and they can demonstrate they had no research funding, we will consider individual waiver requests on a case-by-case basis.
Our waiving policy does not apply to hybrid journals. Authors publishing in hybrid journals can publish under the subscription model at no cost and make use of the Elsevier sharing policy.
For patients and caregivers, we will consider individual waiver requests on a case-by-case basis. Please see here for more information.
Open access agreements and funding body arrangements
Elsevier supports over 2,000 institutions globally to publish open access through transformative agreements. To see more detail on these agreements, please see here.
We have established arrangements to help authors comply with the open access requirements of the major funding bodies and how they can be reimbursed for publication fees when publishing in Elsevier journals.
To ensure Elsevier does not charge twice for the same article, we will fully refund an APC when alternative funding is provided for the open access article. For example, where an open access article is part of a Special Issue which is later made available in its entirety on an open access basis, such as through sponsorship by an organization, we will fully refund individual APCs paid by an author or on their behalf.
Elsevier will offer a credit for use against a future open access publication in the following circumstances:
- A delay in delivering open access: When an article is not available open access on ScienceDirect by the time the issue in which the article is included is published in its final version, we will offer a credit for use against a future publication with Elsevier.
- Incorrect licensing: When an article is made freely available on Science Direct in final published form but does not display the author’s chosen user license due to our error, we will offer a credit for use against a future publication with Elsevier.
No refund or credit will be offered in the following circumstances:
- Article retraction or removal: Elsevier has provided publishing services. The later retraction or removal of the article is typically for reasons beyond our control, and does not detract from the publishing services provided, nor from our ongoing maintenance of the scientific record, e.g., corrections to the record.
- Delays resulting from editorial decisions or author changes: These are a standard part of the publishing process.
- License changes: Where an author requests a change to the user license they initially chose we will endeavour to respond to these within 5 working days.
- Circumstances beyond our control: This may include, for example, where natural or other disasters prevent us from fulfilling our obligations.
- Article unavailable on another platform: Elsevier’s responsibility is to ensure that the definitive published versions of articles we publish are available on ScienceDirect, or any successor platform, in ways that are accessible to all. We provide APIs to enable third party platforms to manage this process themselves, for example to identify and pull gold open access articles or to update their platforms to reflect changes subsequently made to the article, such as author license choice changes, errata, and retractions. Elsevier is not responsible for ensuring third party repositories maintain accurate metadata and full-text.
Elsevier publishes subscription articles whose publication is funded by payments that are made by subscribing individuals or institutions. Subscription prices are set independent of open access articles and open access articles are not included when calculating subscription prices. Subscription prices are calculated and adjusted based on the following criteria:
- Article volume
- Journal quality (as measured by journal quality Field Weighted Citation Impact Tier)
- Journal usage
- Editorial processes
- Competitive considerations
- Other revenue streams such as commercial contributions from advertising, reprints and supplements
These criteria are applied only to subscription articles, not to open access articles, when setting list prices. For specific information please see our subscription price list for librarians and agents.
Elsevier provides a range of purchasing options for subscription articles which are tailored for a wide variety of people. These include:
- For libraries and institutions: There are a number of subscription options available which are tailored according to the specific customer situation and reflect a number of factors. For customers who purchase collections these considerations include competitive considerations, market conditions, the number of archival rights they purchase, and agreement specific factors like agreement length, currency and payment terms. Collection prices are adjusted on an annual basis, and any adjustment is based on factors including competitive considerations, market conditions, the number, quality, and usage of subscription articles published, and on technical features and platform capabilities. Open access articles are not included in these calculations. Click here for more details
- Individuals: Researchers who are not affiliated to an institution, or who would simply like convenient access to a title not available from their library, can take advantage of our personal access options. These options include credit card based transactional article sale and article rental.
- For more information on our free and low-cost access programs click here.
No double dipping
Elsevier does not charge subscribers for open access articles; when calculating subscription prices, we only take into account subscription articles — we do not double dip.
Concerns around double dipping are often premised on the expectation that open access articles are replacing the number of subscription articles being published and therefore that prices should be changing to correspond to this. See here for the latest data on Elsevier article volume growth, value and quality.
List prices for journals that publish both open access and subscription articles
Adjustments in individual journal subscription list prices will be based only on criteria applied to subscription articles. Open access articles will not be considered in the individual journal list price. Similarly, the APC per journal will only be determined based on the criteria applied to open access articles.
As with journal list prices, collection prices reflect subscription articles only; they are linked to the prices of individual titles in a collection, which do not count open access articles when setting prices.
Retrospective open access
To ensure we uphold our no double dipping policy and separate calculations regarding list prices from open access articles, we do not offer authors the option to make a subscription article gold open access retrospectively after publication as a general rule.
However, we appreciate that there are sometimes exceptional circumstances and we want to assist authors where possible. In such instances, authors can make a subscription article, published in a hybrid journal, gold open access up until 31 January of the following year. For example, if the article is published in March 2022, the author can make it open access up until the 31 January 2023. This cut-off date is necessary to accurately assess the open access uptake in each individual hybrid journal for the previous year which ensures we do not charge subscribers for open access content. To request retrospective open access or for further details, please contact us.