Inflationary adjustment to Frontiers’ Article Processing Charges

Article processing charges (APCs) are Frontiers’ sole revenue stream. We offset all the costs associated with our high-quality publishing service through APCs, continuously investing into our operations and open science platform.

At Frontiers, APCs are paid in US dollars, the value of which has recently been under strong inflationary pressure.  Against international cost-of-living indicators, the dollar has lost 13% of its value since the last time we adjusted APCs at the end of 2017.  

Unlike other publishers, we have not made annual adjustments to the costs of our services during that period.

As of August 2022, we will raise APCs by 9.32% to help partially offset the recent inflationary losses to the value of the dollar. This will allow us to continue to reinvest in our operations while offering the highest quality, sustainable publishing services. We employ an international team of over 1,700 publishing professionals, who provide the expertise and technology skills to maintain and expand our editorial program and help make more science, open science. 

Below, we offer FAQs which we hope will answer any questions you may have.

If you have any questions about submissions to one of our journals, please contact our editorial office via the journal page. For any media inquiries, please contact our press office.


Why does Frontiers charge APCs?

Frontiers’ business model is Gold Open Access. This means that article processing charges (APCs) allow us to cover the costs associated with publishing certified research of the highest quality, specifically the services associated with the peer review, publication, and dissemination of research articles. Articles that are accepted for publication by our external editors, following rigorous peer review, incur a publishing fee, which is commonly paid by authors’ institutions or funders.

APCs are an alternative business model to traditional subscription fees, with the benefit – unlike in subscription publishing – that all content is openly and freely available for anybody to read and download, accelerating scientific collaboration and innovation. All articles published in Frontiers journals are freely and permanently available for anyone to view, download and disseminate (under the CC-BY license), and the data is presented in an interoperable, machine-readable format for re-use.

Why are some APCs changing?

Frontiers organizes APCs according to categories that correspond to the maturity of each journal. The periodic changes to APCs via the promotion to new categories, and adjustments for inflation, enable the flexibility to support open science. As Frontiers’ sole source of income, APCs allow us to subsidize new journals and communities with less research funding, reinvest into open-access technology and infrastructure, and offer a fee support program.

When an APC changes fee category, resources are redistributed so the fees are appropriately assigned across the various fields covered by the Frontiers journals series. It is only when a journal meets a specific set of journal maturity criteria that an APC will move into another APC category.

Will APCs continue to rise as they do in the subscription system?

We acknowledge the concern that article processing charges (APCs) continue to increase. However, unlike other publishers, Frontiers has not adjusted its APC schedule since 2017, and we are doing so now to help us partially offset the recent rises in inflation. We also believe that if all agreements between publishers and institutions are transparent, researchers, institutions, and national consortiums can make comparisons and informed decisions about the services they need. Thanks to a fully transparent and open market, all open access fees are publicly available on publishers’ websites and are not hidden behind non-disclosure agreements, which currently happens in the subscription system.

In this spirit, we have pioneered transparent national agreements with AustriaFinlandLuxembourgNorway​,​ Qatar,​​ SwedenSwitzerland, and the UK. We have more than 600 partnership agreements in place with institutions around the world, and ten consortia partnerships, including three with leading funders; The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), and the Luxembourg National Fund.

By being open and transparent about pricing, we believe publishers are held accountable for the services provided, and unfair or singular pricing strategies are avoided. More information about our approach is available on our Fee policy page.

How do Frontiers’ APCs compare to other publishers?

Our APC rates are highly competitive, while simultaneously offering industry-leading services for our authors, editors, and readers.

We have analyzed the listed journal prices and 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 the European Commission in 2017 and 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.
Figure 1: Price comparison for average costs per article in subscription journals (black dots), hybrid journals (grey dots) and gold open access journals (orange dots). APCs as provided on publishers’ websites 2021/2022 (Frontiers updated September 2022).

What is Frontiers doing to help reduce fees for authors?

Our funding model is sustainable and inclusive. A portion of the APC income we generate is used to assist authors unable to pay APCs. Authors and institutions with insufficient funding are eligible for a full or partial fee waiver, which is applied once their article passes our rigorous peer review. A request for fee support will in no way influence whether a submission is accepted or rejected for publication.

Visit our Fee policy page to learn more about discounts or to access our fee support application form.

We also have partnerships in place with more than 600 research institutions, libraries, consortia, and funders to improve the ways researchers are supported when publishing open access. Organizations can become institutional partners via individual agreements or (national) consortium agreements.

What should I do if I have an institutional agreement that sets the price for an APC at the previous rates for the next 2 years?

Authors at institutions that are subject to agreements will continue to pay the previously negotiated rates for the full term of the agreement.

When I agreed to submit a Research-Topic paper, the previous rates were still in effect.

If you committed to participate in a Research Topic project prior to the August 2022 rate change, then you can simply request the previous rate. Email with your manuscript ID.

%d bloggers like this: