Article processing charges policy
Open access provides free and immediate online access to scholarly literature for anyone in the world to read, distribute, and reuse. Frontiers, as a gold open access publisher, offsets all the costs associated with our high-quality publishing service through article processing charges (APCs). Articles that are accepted for publication by our external editors following rigorous peer review incur a publishing fee charged to authors, institutions, or funders. APCs are Frontiers' sole revenue stream.
Frontiers' APC pricing spectrum is designed to be sustainable and inclusive. This means that for journal pricing we consider journal maturity and open access funding availability in different research communities (see table 1 below). In other words, more mature journals and richer communities support and subsidize new journals and communities with less research funding. This allows all research communities to experience the benefits of open access, from rigorous peer review to accelerated article dissemination.
Authors and institutions with insufficient funding are eligible for discounts to their article processing charges, provided their article passes our independent and rigorous peer review, again allowing everybody to benefit from open access publication.
Our APC rates are highly competitive (see comparison below) and enable us to provide industry-leading services for our authors, editors, and readers. This advantage has been gained through our continuous investment in cutting-edge technology.
APCs pay for our people (in June 2022 more than 1,500 highly skilled professionals) who run our editorial programs, build our technology, and deliver premium services on a custom-built open science platform. APCs also allow us to continually re-invest in growing our journal portfolio.
Our business model has allowed us to publish high-quality, impactful scholarly journals that consistently rank among the world's leading journals in both the Journal Citation Reports and CiteScore. Frontiers is currently the 3rd most-cited publisher, receiving on average 5.5 citations per article published between 2019 and 2021.
The table below displays the general rationale of Frontiers' fee policy. Journal-specific APCs are listed on each journal's page, which also contains journal-specific article types. Please note that APCs are subject to periodic revision.
|Article type A
|Article type B
|Article type C
|Article type D
Journals in fields that have lower research budgets
Journals in fields that support open access
Mature and impactful journals that are well-established and in fields that support open access
Sustainable and impactful journals in fields that support open access
Table 1: Frontiers' APCs are structured in four categories, depending on the journal's maturity and the level of research funding and/or open access funding available in various research communities. They also support article types with lower prices or articles that are free of charge. Frontiers' APCs are charged in US$.
For example, for Original Research articles (article type A), Frontiers’ APCs range from US$ 3,225 in our most mature journals with well-established open access (OA) support, to US$ 1,260 in newly launched journals and/or fields that have lower research budgets available and/or where OA is not yet well-supported (e.g. humanities and social sciences fields). This means that mature journals in well-funded fields have higher APCs and partially subsidize journals with lower APCs that are younger or cover communities with less funding. This allows all research communities to benefit from open access.
What our APCs cover
Frontiers has always been transparent about how our APCs are invested. This spirit of transparency is in line with Coalition S for Plan S.
Our journal teams manage every aspect of journal operations and growth, from editorial board management, to commissioning high-quality content, handling article collections, and supporting our editors.
We have clearly defined quality standards for research and peer review.
Our research integrity team checks and sorts research articles for quality, ethics and research integrity. Quality checks are monitored and improved continuously, allowing for improvements as well as automation of processes, such as integration into AIRA, our Artificial Intelligence Review Assistant.
Our review operations team ensures that quality standards are adhered to during peer review, that the appropriate experts are assigned to the manuscripts, and that editors are supported at every step of the process. They also provide rigorous feedback to the authors so that each stage of the review process advances in an effective and timely manner.
Production costs include typesetting and copy-editing, assignment of persistent identifiers, journal indexing, archiving in all relevant academic and national databases, and permanent storage, such as CLOCKSS.
We have a relentless focus on technology and innovation to continuously raise the bar for our services and quality standards, make processes simpler and more efficient, and the work of our authors, reviewers, and editors easier. APC income is reinvested in this space to allow for the deployment of new platform tools and services, including AIRA. See our history for a timeline of our innovations and awards.
We support our authors, reviewers, and editors by disseminating and promoting their research through news media, social media, newsletters, article alerts, our news site, conferences, and by organizing and sponsoring events. Our articles have been viewed and downloaded over 1.8 billion times and progress can be monitored on the impact metrics page of each published article.
APCs also cover general operations, including human resources and accounting, as well as costs of administrative functions and office rental.
Investment in growth supports new publication initiatives across the academic spectrum. Higher APCs in mature journals subsidize the launch of new journals before they become self-sustainable.
Chief editors are awarded honoraria for their work and strictly independent from acceptance decisions.
Advocacy and collaborations
We work with like-minded organizations through policy engagement and collaborations to pursue our common vision of open science for all of society. They include the European Commission, the World Economic Forum (WEF), and project for Horizon 2020.
Outreach and awards
APCs, together with other funding sources, also support our scientific outreach programs, including:
Frontiers for Young Minds, an open access, online scientific journal for young people
Frontiers Policy Labs , an initiative that strengthens the connection between robust scientific research and informed policymaking
Frontiers Forum , where leading scientists present science-led solutions for healthy lives on a healthy planet.
Our fee support program ensures that all articles that pass peer review can benefit from open access – regardless of the author's field or funding situation.
Authors and institutions with insufficient funding will be eligible for discounts to their APC. This includes authors in countries classified by the World Bank as low and low-middle income economies.
To apply for fee support, please complete our fee support application form.
Your request for a fee support will in no way influence whether your submission is accepted or rejected for publication.
National and institutional payment plans
Frontiers works with research institutions, libraries, consortia, and funders to support authors who want to publish in a Frontiers journal. A central invoicing platform removes the burden from authors and helps contribute to the growing number of research articles that are openly available to all. Organizations can become institutional members via individual agreements, or (national) consortium agreements.
We currently have eight national consortia agreements and partnerships with more than 600 institutions across the world who support Frontiers' editorial program. Check if your institution has a payment plan with us.
How to become an institutional partner with Frontiers
If your institution is not a member, there are many reasons to put us in touch with your librarian.
Reduced administrative time for authors and institutions by centralizing communications and streamlining submission and payment workflows
Authors released of some/all responsibility for article processing charges (APCs) – depending on the agreement with their institution
Discounts on APCs depending on the agreement
Institutions provided with insight into open access uptake and expenditure via detailed data reports on articles published by their researchers
Institutions remain in full control with every APC verified by their central contact point
How to become an institutional member
To set up an institutional membership with Frontiers, or if you require more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +41 21 5101729.
The cost of rejections
Frontiers does not set acceptance or rejection rates. Instead, our editorial policy is based on clearly defined quality standards and certifies objective quality, validity, and rigor of research. Articles that pass rigorous peer review performed are accepted, articles that do not are rejected.
As submissions have been increasing over the years, so have rejections. In 2021, 40% of submitted articles across all academic disciplines were rejected (see fig. 2), reaching over 60% in some journals.
While APCs are only applied to published articles, the substantial work associated with rejections pre-review (quality control and triaging) and post-review, is also covered by APC income and contributes significantly to the setting of the APC.
Article costs across types and publishers in comparison
We analyzed the listed journal prices and article processing charges (APCs) across 10 scientific publishers in 2022 and revenue data stipulated in company annual reports of major subscription publishers in 2020.
Based on these data, we estimated the mean revenue generated for gold open access articles, articles published open access in subscription journals (hybrid) and subscription articles. The following estimates are in line with previous industry reports from Delta Think in 2021 and 2022, which consistently show the cost-effectiveness of gold open access publishing.
For fully gold open access journals of the 10 largest publishers the weighted mean APC is US$2,371 and the highest APC is US$8,900
For hybrid journals from the 10 largest publishers, the weighted mean APC is US$3,410 while the highest APC is US$11,390
For a subscription article, the range of revenue is between US$4,000 and US$9,000