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Publishing and Scholarly Communications: Article Processing Charges

What are APCs?

Article Processing Charges (or APCs) are publication fees that are charged by publishers to cover the cost of making an article open access. These fees are most typically charged and paid for by the authors; typically the corresponding or first authors. These fees vary from publisher to publisher, and range from as little as $1,000 to nearly $12,000 per article. APCs can be charged for articles in fully gold OA journals as well as hybrid journals (journals that contain both OA articles and those that require payment for access). 

These fees are becoming more prominent as publisher's shift towards providing more open access content as a way to supplement the lost revenue of fewer subscriptions and transferring that burden to the authors. Currently, the NOAA Central Library is looking at ways to help alleviate some of the burden of these costs on NOAA authors and offices, while still promoting open access publishing and open science overall. 

Subscribe to Open Model (S2O)

Subscribe to Open (or S2O) is an alternative to APCs.  It is a method employed by publishers to use library subscription revenue to convert paywalled journals to full open access (OA; free and immediate online access to research articles).  A sufficient level of subscription payments from the research community must be received by the publisher each year for the designated S2O journal(s) to remain OA.  Therefore:

  • If enough institutions renew their subscriptions for the year, the journal(s) remains OA, and all author articles (whether their institution subscribes or not) are made freely available on publication without being charged an APC
  • If not, then the journal(s) becomes paywalled again and only those institutions with subscriptions will have access to the articles.  There is no opportunity for authors to publish articles on an OA basis.

S2O is becoming more prevalent, especially for smaller, more niche publishers.


 Currently the NOAA Library Network subscriptions are supporting the following S2O publishers/ journals:

Annual Reviews: a nonprofit publisher that invites authoritative authors to submit reviews.  All reviews published are invited from the Annual Reviews Editorial Committees

  • Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics
  • Annual Review of Marine Science

To learn more about Annual Reviews S2O program and other titles covered see their website.   Authors who are invited to submit a review can learn more about the submission process here.

PLOS Climate

Starting June 1st, 2022, the NOAA Central Library will cover NOAA corresponding authors’ article processing charges (APCs) when they publish in PLOS Climate, through their Global Equity model  which empowers institutions in every region of the world to provide unlimited publication support for their authors through a single, annual fee that is equitable, and affordable. 


PLOS Climate is a peer-reviewed fully open access journal that provides a venue for all areas of climate research, with an emphasis on collaborative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work that improves global and regional understanding of climate phenomena and informs critical strategies for combating climate change. 

For more information about how to ensure your publication is covered by this program see our Author Guide for instructions