Open access (OA) journals have made their content freely and openly available for anyone to read and re-use without having to pay for a subscription fee or access charges. To cover the cost, there are different funding mechanisms involved in this publication model, as institutional subsidies and Article Process Charges or APCs for publishing the articles. Not all journals have APCs and the cost can vary widely. Which is sometimes paid by the author. Many publishers offer an APC waiver for helping the researchers in the lower and middle-income countries (LMICs), as they have access to funds to pay. Since OA is build to reduce the barriers and increase diversity in the scholarly community and make the knowledge accessible to all, therefore APCs journal ismaintaining the policies around this objective. In a guest post at Scholarly Kitchen by Andrae Powell explains how waiver policies can end up failing to achieve their intended outcome if they are poorly constructed and communicated to their targeted beneficiaries and APC waiver policies turn into a job half done.
An AuthorAID survey by INASP showed that 60% of the researchers have paid APC charges from their pocket, despite the widespread availability of waivers. The reason could be due to the unawareness and understanding of waivers for APC and lack of cognizance on how to claim them. Because of which STM and Elsevier’s Center for the Study of Research recommended more consistent and transparent APC waiver policies by the publishers. The major flaw in the APC waiver policies is the lack of inconsistency, as some publishers offer it to all the researches on the LMICs while others to only lower-income countries. Similarly, some publishers provide a full waiver, while others a discount, moreover, the discounts can be very confusing and diverse based on the Research4Life’s goals.
The Research4Life published its set of best practice guidelines for publishers to allow them to construct and communicate their APC waiver policy clearly and effectively for benefit of researcher and publisher, in line with the objective of APC.
The guidelines accentuate the need for clarity and transparency about which country is eligible for APC waiver, what they are eligible for, and what kind of restrictions are there. They can also clarify the names of the Journals that the waiver is applied to along with the conditions. They also recommended that the guidelines should be written in a way that a person of another langue can easily understand and comprehend, also they should be up on the journal’s website for all to see.
In compliance with their guidelines, Research4Life has designed an index of publisher APC waiver policies for helping its users. That reveals its findings and user’s review every 5 years. The findings suggested that there is still a lot of confusion about OA publishing, APC waiver eligibility, and how to acquire a waiver. Embedding waiver eligibility criteria into the publishing workflow can be a way to go in the future, but any system that requires manual validation, can’t be scalable and automated.
open access (OA), APC waiver eligibility, APC waiver policy, Research4Life, lower and middle-income countries (LMICs)