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Author Tips for HKUST Scholars

Thinking of publishing? Need some helpful tips? See this guide for some answers!

Article Processing Charges (APCs) - What & Why

Article processing charges (APCs) are fees that publishers charge authors to help finance a journal.

Lately, publishers have used them to make their publications available via Open Access (OA), the practice to make scholarly literature freely accessible online. Two major routes to make your work OA are either through "Gold OA" in a hybrid (mix of OA and subscription fee) or through a complete OA journal.

  • Gold - Your work is immediately accessible at the publisher’s website after publication.
    • Readers do not require a subscription to read an article.
    • Available on a completely OA journal, or a "hybrid" (where some articles are behind paywall & some available via OA).
    • Often you have to pay a fee, called APC, to the publisher to make this happen.
  • Green - Your work is made available NOT on the publishers website.
    • An earlier version is made available.
    • Often accessed via an Institutional Repository, a subject repository, or the author's own site.

  The Plan S Coalition sees it as a way forward, through "transformative agreements".  More info at

APCs - How Much & Who Pays?

How much do APCs cost?

It varies from publisher to publisher, and journal to journal. There is a wide range, and overall they are not small sums. Some examples (as of April 2019):

  • Chemical Physics Letters X, Elsevier: USD3,050
  • European Journal of Remote Sensing, Taylor & Francis: USD700
  • Nature Communications, USD5,200
  • Journal of Optics, IOP, USD2,700

The pricing mechanism isn't transparent.

  • Publishers may offer discounts or waivers for researchers in certain countries.
  • Some journals are fully OA (all papers are OA, no subscription required).
  • Some are hybrid (the journals still charge subscription, but some papers are OA if the authors pay APC).
  • But there's no obvious relation between APC cost and  whether a journal is full OA or hybrid.

Do I have to pay?

It depends. APC is optional with a hybrid journal. If you choose not to pay, your paper will still be published in that journal, but behind paywall, i.e. only subscribers can read.

Is a hybrid journal charging both the authors and readers then?

Yes, they are. Often this charging model is criticized as double-dipping. Although some publishers claim they offset the subscription costs with the amount of APC they receive, it is hardly clear how they do it. With the business model of academic publishing, transparency is always a big issue.

If I opt for gold OA, who pays for my APC?

In the US and Europe, some universities and funding agencies allow research grants to cover APC. In Hong Kong, RGC requires the Project Coordinator (PC) or Principal Investigator (PI) to make the final publications openly accessible immediately or no later than 12 months after publication, but there is no guideline on APC.

HKUST Support for APCs - American Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Cambridge University Press

Open Subscription Agreement with American Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)

The Library launched an Open Subscription agreement with AIMS (American Institute of Mathematical Sciences) in 2023. It allows unlimited Gold open access publishing at no costs to authors in below three journals:

Key points to note:

  • Be the corresponding author upon manuscript submission
  • List HKUST as your affiliation upon manuscript submission
  • Use your HKUST email account upon manuscript submission
  • Notify AIMS that you want your article to be published open access when replying to galley proof message sent from AIMS Production Editor or Production Specialist

Cambridge University Press “Read and Publish” Agreement

HKUST Library has recently signed a "Transformative Agreement", also known as "read & publish" (R&P), with Cambridge University Press (CUP). This agreement means:

  • HKUST authors can publish Gold Open Access with all APCs waived for three years (from Jan 1, 2021 to Dec 31, 2023)
  • Applies to any of the 372 titles (40 Gold OA & 332 Hybrid) on the Excel sheet listed below
  • Criterion = corresponding author is a current HKUST researcher (PGs count too!)
  • 2016-2020, HKUST authors published 100+ items with CUP

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