FAQs: funding for OA articles

Many journals offer authors the option of paying an article processing charge (APC) in order to make their article immediately openly available on the journal website. 

For information on APC pricing in particular journals, please see our open access journal page.

Over 300 funders and institutions worldwide provide APC funding to help authors publish via the open access route. The following FAQs provide guidance on how to locate APC funding, and what steps should be taken to secure it.

1. When should I start thinking about funding for my OA publication?

We recommend that authors begin thinking about how they will fund their APC when they are selecting a journal for manuscript submission. This will allow authors to confirm that funding is available prior to committing to paying an APC, and to determine whether the journal meets the criteria of their APC funding source(s). For more information about criteria that might apply to my APC funding, please see FAQ 9.

Where possible, we also advise researchers to consider publication charges when applying for research funding, as some funders permit authors to include publication costs in the budget of main research grants.

2. Where should I look for article processing charge (APC) funding?

As support for open access increases, many research funders and institutions are providing funding to cover the costs associated with researchers’ open access publications. Information about OA funding may be available on funder and institutional websites.

Springer Nature provides a free service to assist authors in identifying OA funding. Check our list of organisations with OA funding for further details, or contact our OA funding support service for personalised advice.

3. What routes might my funder or institution use to distribute APC funding?

There are four main routes used by research funders and institutions to distribute funding for APCs:

  • Dedicated funds set aside by organisations to be used for OA publication charges. For more information, please see FAQ 5.
  • OA block grants provided by funders and distributed by a specific set of institutions. For more information, please see FAQ 6.
  • Provisions for (open access) publication costs to be included as part of main research grants. For more information, please see FAQ 7.
  • Participation in memberships or OA agreements with publishers. For more information, please see FAQ 8.

Funders and institutions may provide funding via one or more of these routes. Authors may be able to combine multiple sources of funding to pay an APC.

4. Do APC funding opportunities vary globally or by discipline?

At present, OA funding availability and the methods used to distribute funds vary globally. In regions such as Northern and Western Europe, where immediate OA is more strongly supported by funders, authors may have access to a wider range of sources of APC funding, including ‘block grants’ or other funds specifically dedicated to OA publishing. In China, Australia, and North America, authors are often encouraged to use their main research grant for publication costs, although institutions may also make funding available. Elsewhere in the world, approaches to open access publishing are in earlier stages of development, so formal mechanisms for APC funding are less established. For more information on different APC funding routes, please see FAQ 3.

OA funding availability also differs according to research discipline. To date, OA publishing has been more prevalent within STM subjects and, in particular, the life sciences, which authors may find reflected in funding opportunities provided by their research funder. For more information on options for authors who do not have access to OA funding, please see FAQ 12.

Our OA funding and policy support service can provide personalised advice to authors who have queries about finding APC funding. If your funder is not shown on this page, you may still be able to use your grant funds to cover APCs. Check your grant terms for information on publication costs.

5. My funder/institution provides dedicated APC funding. How do I access this funding?

A number of funding bodies and institutions have dedicated funds for open access publication charges. Authors will usually need to apply to the fund administrator on an article-by-article basis. For more information on applying for funding, please see FAQ 13.

6. My funder provides institutional ‘block grants’ for APC funding. How can I access this funding?

In the UK and Germany, where there is significant support for immediate (gold) OA, a number of funders have established methods of covering their funded researchers’ APC costs in the form of ‘block grants’ to institutions or collaborative APC funding schemes.

Several UK funding bodies provide a ‘block grant’ to a specific set of institutions. These institutions then distribute the APC funds on request to affiliated authors whose research has been supported by these funding bodies.

The organisations that provide OA block grant funds are UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome, and others.

Authors in receipt of research funding from these organisations can check our list of organisations with OA funding to find out whether their institution has been awarded these funds and how to apply. Grantees based at an institution that does not receive OA block grant funds may be able to apply direct to their funder or use remaining grant funds to cover APCs. Authors should check their funder’s open access web pages for further details.

The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), also provides OA funding to institutions through their open access publishing programme, which establishes APC funds that are jointly financed by the institution and DFG. All submitting or corresponding authors based at the institution may apply, regardless of whether they receive DFG grants. Check our list of organisations with OA funding to find out which institutions have been awarded these funds.

7. Can I use my research grant to pay the APC?

Some funders allow grantees to use remaining research funds to pay APCs, while others may permit or require that APC costs are appropriately budgeted during the initial grant application process. If in doubt, authors should check their grant terms or contact the grant administrator to confirm whether funds may be used in this way.

Our list of organisations with OA funding includes a number of funders that make APC funding available via main research grants.

Authors planning to use research grants to pay APCs should consider that APC payments are usually made at the point of the manuscript’s acceptance, which may be after the applicable research grant has been closed.

8. My institution has open access memberships or agreements with publishers. Which Springer Nature journals does this apply to?

Some publishers have established agreements with institutions to support authors publishing OA content in their journals. Depending on the type of agreement, authors affiliated with member institutions may have the cost of their APCs fully or partially covered by the institution.

Springer Nature has membership programmes available for its BMC and SpringerOpen journal portfolios.

If your institution has a fully open access agreement with Springer Nature, you may publish your article open access with your fees covered in more than 600 fully OA journals from BMC, Nature Research, Palgrave, and SpringerOpen. If your institution has a transformative agreement, you may publish your article open access with your fees covered fully or partially in more than 1,850 Springer journals. You can also enjoy full access to all Springer subscription journal content.

9.  What types of restrictions or eligibility criteria might apply to my APC funding?

Funders and institutions may require authors to meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for APC funding. Confirmation that these requirements are being met may be requested prior to the release of funds, for example as part of an application form, or compliance may be retrospectively monitored.

Common eligibility criteria for APC funding include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

Author requirements

  • Funders or institutions may only offer APC funding if the affiliated author/grantee is a corresponding or submitting author
  • Eligibility may also be determined by date on which the paper was submitted or published
  • Where funds are provided or distributed by an institution, eligibility may be determined by:
    • Employment status/role, e.g. faculty, all employees, students.
    • Institutional department
    • Affiliation at the time research was conducted
    • Affiliation of co-authors: institutional funding may be restricted or prorated for articles co-authored by researchers from different institutions
    • Availability of APC funding from alternative sources, e.g. research funders
  • Where funds are provided by a research funder, eligibility may be determined by:
    • Grant programme
    • Proportion of research supported by the funder: funding may be restricted or prorated where the research for the article was supported by other funders

Publication/journal requirements

  • Funding may be limited to articles published in fully open access journals.
  • Funding may also be limited to journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). All fully OA journals published by Springer Nature journals are submitted to DOAJ as soon as they have published sufficient content.
  • APC funding may only be provided for articles published under particular open access licences, usually the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY) licence (although other non-commercial licences may be permitted). Learn more about funder licensing requirements in our open access policy FAQs.

Other requirements

  • Authors may be required to deposit the final published version of record required in specified institutional or subject repository. For more information on our guidance on meeting funder and institution’s requirements for self-archiving, please see our open access policy FAQs.
  • Where funding is provided for APC charges, there may be a restriction on whether additional publication charges may also be covered, for example, colour, figure, or page charges. Authors should check individual journal sites to find out if such charges are levied by the journal where an APC has been paid.

Meeting APC funding requirements

Authors should check that they are able to meet the funder’s requirements prior to submitting their article, including checking the policies of their chosen journal:

In addition to the requirements attached to APC funding, many funders and institutions have open access policies that relate to all researchers affiliated with or in receipt of research funding from these organisations. For information on identifying open access policies and meeting requirements, read our OA policy FAQs.

10. Do funders place limits on the amount of APC funding they provide?

Funders and institutions may place a cap on the amount of APC funding that they provide to authors. Common limits include caps on the amount available per publication, per project, or per author per year. Some institutions or funders cap APC funding at different levels depending on whether the article is published in a fully OA or a hybrid journal.

Certain organisations will only provide APC funding if the full APC price charged by the journal is within a specified limit, while other organisations only provide funds up to a certain amount per article but will allow authors to ‘top up’ the APC payment from other sources.

11. My research has not been externally funded / I have no current institutional affiliation. Where can I find APC funding?

Usually authors will not be eligible to obtain APC funding from an organisation unless they are affiliated with or have received research funding from the organisation in question. However, authors who do not personally have access to APC funding from an institution or research funder should consider whether co-authors may be eligible for funds from their institution or research funder. For guidance on options for authors without access to APC funding sources, please see FAQ 12.

12. There is no APC funding available to me but I would like to publish OA. What options do I have?

Open access journals and publishers may have an APC waiver or discount programme to assist authors in financial need. Authors who have exhausted all potential sources of APC funding or do not have access to any funds should check the policies of their chosen journal and publisher for further information.

To learn about our APC waiver policy for authors submitting to Springer Nature OA journals, please see our journal policies page.

Springer Nature authors who are struggling to identify potential sources of APC funding can also contact our free OA funding and policy support service for assistance.

13. I have located a source of funding and confirmed that I am eligible. How and when do I apply?

How do I apply?

Application routes for APC funding vary by organisation. In some cases no formal application is necessary, for example if authors are permitted to use unspent grant funds to pay APCs, or if an OA publication allocation is automatically added to all research grants. In many cases however, authors will be required to formally request APC funds, either by completing a dedicated application form, by contacting the fund administrators directly, or by including projected publication costs in the budget of their main research grant application. Check your funder or institution’s website for details of application processes, or contact our OA funding and policy support service for assistance.

When should I apply?

Authors should also check when they are required to make their application, as this will differ depending on the funder or institution’s workflows. Some organisations require that authors apply for APC funding prior to submitting their manuscript, while others require that an application is made once the manuscript has been accepted for publication, or after payment has been made (for reimbursement).

What information will I need?

As part of an APC funding application, authors may need to provide information about the journal and/or publisher, or a justification of the benefits of open access publication.

For Springer Nature journals, details of APC pricing and licenses can be found on the open access journals pages. Information on Springer Nature’s policies for OA licenses and other aspects of publication relating to open access can be found on our journal policies page.

For further assistance in understanding and complying with open access policies, please contact our free OA funding and policy support service.

For further assistance in publishing open access view our OA checklist, or learn more about identifying and meeting funder and institutional OA requirements in our OA policy FAQs.

If you have any feedback on these FAQs, including suggestions for further information on OA policies you would like to see, please let us know at OAfundingpolicy@springernature.com.