Most scientific journals charge for publishing an article. There is currently a lot of discussion about these so-called publication fees because, among others, most journals subsequently also charge readers to access the publication. Some journals give everyone access to all articles (Open Access journals) or offer an Open Access option if the authors pay for it. What you pay for and how much is important to find out when selecting journals for your manuscript.

Why you have to pay publication fees

The fees you have to pay have traditionally been intended to cover the costs of, among others, the editors and the printed version of the journal. Especially color figures cost a lot to print. Many journals charge a separate contribution for this, often with the option to have the figures in the printed version of the journal shown in black and white so that you can avoid these costs. Because most people who have access to the printed version also have access to the online version where the figures appear in color, this is an attractive option. In addition to publication fees (often calculated per page), and fees for color figures, fees are sometimes even charged for supplementary data.

Apart from publication fees, some journals also charge a submission fee ranging from $ 50 to $ 125 to cover the cost of reviewing by editors and peer reviewers. Because a lot of time is spent on (obtaining) reviews of articles by editors and peer reviewers, and the majority of these articles are subsequently rejected, the publication fees can than be reduced. The number of submissions also decreases due to the submission fee, causing the time to make a decision to decrease as well.

How much are these publication fees

How much you have to pay for publication differs greatly per publisher, it is worthwhile – especially if you have a limited budget – to find this out before choosing a journal. Most journals list the amount in the ‘Information for authors’ section, or you can search for the Publication Fee or Article Processing Fee (APC). For some journals, this can be difficult to find.

Publication fees

  • If only costs per article are charged, they range from $ 0 to $ 1500.
  • If charged per page, these can range from $ 70 to $ 200 per page, with the price often increasing above a certain number of pages.
  • Supplemental data charges typically range between $ 100 and $ 250 for the entire supplement.
  • For color figures, you pay about $ 150 to $ 1000 per figure. However, some journals do not charge additional fees for color if the editor feels that the colors are essential.
  • For some journals, if one of the authors is a member of the association that publishes the journal, they receive a discount on the publication costs, or they may publish an article for free one or more times a year. Authors from low- and middle-income countries can often receive a discount.

Open Access costs

It is attractive to publish an article in a journal with Open Access because there is a higher chance that others will read your article and – hopefully – reference it. Open Access is mandatory in some journals, and optional in others (Hybrid Open Access). The fee for publishing an article in an Open Access journal ranges from $ 1,500 to $ 5,000 (outlier: Cell $ 5,900). Note that the Open Access fee is sometimes charged on top of the publication fee… You can find most Open Access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals.  


You can find links to the publication fees of some of the larger publishers here: Wiley, Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis

It is important to know that various institutions (Universities, KNAW, NWO) have made agreements with a number of publishers so that you do not have to pay these Open Access fees (or not in full). It is worth checking this out, either through your institute or on the journal`s website.

Dollars and Euros for publication fees
Money. Image by Filip Filipović from Pixabay.