A helping hand with your open access journey
16 June 2021 | 4 min read
By Christopher Tancock
How investing in “back end” infrastructure makes your OA publication experience a smooth one
As an author, chances are you’re going to publish open access (OA) at some point soon, if you’ve not already done so. The OA publication journey can be a complicated one, however. There are many aspects to consider and not all of them are under your control, especially if your research is supported by a funding body or by your institution which mandates OA – or if your publication is subject to other requirements. Knowing if and what you might have to pay is of course a key question, so you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve been doing a lot of work to ensure that your experience is as smooth as it can be.
As one of the fastest-growing open access publishers in the world, nearly all our journals now enable open access publishing, including over 500 fully open access journals. In 2020 we helped over 81,000 authors to publish gold OA articles. That’s 81,000 authors all needing to be guided through the process and presented with clear, easy-to-understand information about their choices and the prices involved. This is where our Online Author Communication System (OACS) comes in.
OACS guides authors through the steps they need to take and gives them information about the options available to them. It is accessed with the same login credentials that you use for your submission and also stores your information in a GDPR-compliant fashion. This saves you from having to re-enter this for subsequent submissions (for example if we know you’re supported by Funder X, we’ll make sure to show you the publishing options that are compliant with Funder X’s requirements).
We’ve continually invested in the infrastructure to roll out further improvements over the years. We began by focusing on the post-acceptance journey but have since expanded our capabilities to cover the full end-to-end publishing process for our authors. Since 2018, the system has provided authors with a bespoke experience: we present a personalized OA Article Publishing Charge (APC) based on your individual context (your country, institutional affiliation, and any society membership for example) as well as considering the journal involved. With all this information seamlessly processed in the back end, we ensure you see the correct pricing information, including any discounts for which you might be eligible.
The impact of this investment means that authors benefit from full transparency of the prices, publishing options, agreements, and funder policies applicable both at submission and post-acceptance, all presented in a user-friendly system which recognizes and responds to your individual personal context at each step. One practical benefit of this is that you see the lowest possible APC for the article and journal in question. When it comes to pricing, we specify the price of publishing gold open access on each journal homepage and in a central list.
Best price promise
We also employ “price logic” to ensure we present you with the best i.e. lowest price. You might be eligible for a discount for many reasons including: OA commercial agreements; journals with a payment agreement; society membership discounts; introductory discounts; vouchers and Research4Life (for low and middle-income countries). The best price logic feature also ensures you receive the lowest price if there is a price increase between submission and acceptance (that is, we base the price on the figure quoted at submission).
For example: if you were eligible for a fifty percent institutional agreement discount but also had a voucher code for sixty percent discount, the system would prioritize the latter to ensure the lowest price. We also provide a full breakdown of the pricing applied including information on the actual APC (“list price”); any discount applied; the reason for said discount and the resulting discounted price. And what’s more, we automatically apply waivers or discounts to articles in fully gold OA journals for which all authors are based in a low-income country.
We are continually reviewing, adjusting, and enhancing the systems we operate for our authors, so the best price promise is by no means the last feature we’ll be rolling out. We’re committed to helping to make every OA publishing experience with us as fast, efficient and positive as possible, so if you have ideas or suggestions for other ways we could make things better, do let us know via the Publishing Lab or in the comments below. Otherwise, stay tuned for further improvements and all the best for your next OA publication!