Do I need to pay page charges?

In general the answer is NO!  As academics, we already do most of the work as authors, reviewers and editors, and in most cases the university has to pay for access to the journal, so paying page charges on top just increases the profits of the publishers. The only circumstances under which page charges seem appropriate are:

  • The entire journal is Open Access and its existence depends on page charges -- this applies to the PLOS journals, for example, and authors can obtain funding for page charges from the university.
  • The research funding body requires immediate open access journal publication, and the research funding has a line item to cover the costs -- this possibly applies to EU H2020 funding.  

EPSRC and the other Research Councils require the research they fund to be made openly available as soon as possible, and therefore RCUK gives the university a block grant to fund the page charges for Open Access journals.  However, in most cases open access for Maths papers means Green Access with the articles automatically available within 6 months from the central university ORA archive, after the Author Accepted Manuscript has been deposited as part of the standard Act-on-Acceptance procedure required for HEFCE's REF rules.

In some cases, journals insist on a 12 month embargo, but this also satisfies EPSRC's rules under item 2.2 in these RCUK FAQs, given that the university has insufficient RCUK block grant funding to support improved Green Access.