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The Price of Open Access / By: Karis Kelly

Academic research publishing profits $19 billion every year, with profit margin only continuing to rise. The five largest companies monopolize over 50% of the publishing industry (Hagve, 2020). The public can access research, but that pesky paywall will pop-up asking for $45+ for a 24-48 hour PDF rental of the study. Open access (OA) helps the reader bypass the paywalls, providing the research for free. Some of the largest publishing companies are starting to provide researchers to publish their works with open access, but not without a price. In the UK, the average APC for Open Access Serve was £1,646 ($2,031.21), with a high of £9,952 ($12,281.07) and a low of £1,150 ($1,419.13) (Fuentes, Accessed May 2022).

Open access articles have a plethora of benefits. The main benefit is everyone has equal access to resources. Many people don’t subscribe or have access to journals through an institution that has subscriptions. Open access is a way for people to get their hands on research without paying a massive fee. Dr. Lev Becker, an Associate Professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago stated, “It is nice for other scientists to have access to the work that you spent a long time developing, which is the main benefit.”

Springer Nature is one of the largest publishers now offering open access. To make a paper OA with Nature, there are article processing charges (APCs) totaling $11,390 (Else, 2020). Many are considering this a prestige tax on researchers to encourage the public to pay fees for research. Dr. James LaBelle, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics stated, “Many researchers could not pay that large of a fee to publish their works open access,” Such expensive APC fees could deter important research from making it to world-renowned journals. Although publishing companies need to maintain a certain margin of profit to continue the business, there need to be other ways to make a profit without impacting the access of research to everyday people.

Overall, APCs are rising in prestigious journals. A world-renowned journal such as Nature, requiring such APCs, can set a precedent for other journals to follow suit. In return, fewer groundbreaking articles are published for anyone to read. There are platforms to try and go around the paywall. In addition, one can contact the research(s) for the paper to go around the paywall.

Works Cited

Else, Holly. “Nature Journals Reveal Terms of Landmark Open-Access Option.” Nature

News, Nature Publishing Group, 24 Nov. 2020,


Fuentes, Elena Varela. “How Much Do Publishers Charge for Open Access?” Open Access,

Accessed 18 May, 2022


Hagve, Martin. “Pengene Bak Vitenskapelig Publisering.” Tidsskrift for Den Norske

Legeforening, 2020, doi:10.4045/tidsskr.20.0118.


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