Frequently asked questions
What is open access publishing?
Open access publishing means making your research outputs available online, free of charge to individuals who wish to access and read it. You can do this by either depositing your work in a repository such as Spiral or by paying an open access fee or article processing charge (APC) to a publisher for immediate open access at their website.
Are open access articles peer-reviewed?
Open access articles published in journals are peer-reviewed in the same way as articles published in traditional subscription journals. If you want your work to be peer-reviewed before publication, make sure the journal you choose (whether open access or not) has a clear review process that is appropriate to your research requirements. Publications deposited in repositories may or may not be the peer-reviewed version, so you should check the repository’s policy before using it either to deposit or access work.
Can I publish on open access in my usual journal?
Quite possibly. Many publishers now have hybrid ‘gold’ open access options, making your work open access immediately on publication. This usually involves paying an open access fee or APC. The Imperial Open Access Fund can only be used with fully open access journals so you will need RCUK/COAF funding to have hybrid ‘gold’ open access charges paid from library funds.
Many publishers have ‘green’ open access policies which permit you to deposit a version of your work in a repository at no cost.
You can use SHERPA FACT to find the open access option for the journal you want to publish in.
How do I publish my work on open access?
You can do this by either depositing your work in a repository such as Spiral or by paying an open access fee or APC to a publisher for immediate open access at their website. To make your work open access immediately on publication, make sure your publisher provides a ‘gold’ open access option. You can apply to the College’s open access fund for help in paying open access charges in fully open access journals by using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic.
Your publisher will usually permit you to deposit a particular version to a repository so you should check your publisher agreement or use SHERPA RoMEO to find out your publisher’s policy.
What is the difference between a hybrid and a full open access journal?
Full open access journals make all their published content open upon publication under creative commons licences. The majority charge an open access fee or article processing charge (APC). Hybrid journals are traditional subscription-only titles where publishers now offer a ‘gold’ open access option, for an open access fee (APC).
Content in full OA journals is available free to any reader with an internet connection. Content in hybrid journals will be a mix of open and subscriber-only access.
Which version of my work should I deposit in an open access repository?
Your publisher will usually permit you to deposit a particular version (usually the accepted manuscript) to a repository so you should check your publisher agreement or use SHERPA RoMEO to find out your publisher’s policy.
How do I get help?
Please contact the Library’s open access team or your librarian if you have any queries about open access publishing or if you need help understanding your research funder’s open access policy.
Open access fees
I want to make an APC application. What do I do?
If your work has been accepted for publication, go to the ‘Deposit my work’ link in Symplectic.
You will need to enter basic bibliographic information about your output (title, journal, date of acceptance, etc.), link it to any relevant grants, upload a copy of the accepted manuscript or the link to where it has been deposited in another repository/website (if relevant) and select ‘Yes’ for ‘Do you want to apply for APC funding?’ Selecting ‘yes’ will automatically generate an open access funding application.
Please wait until your application has been approved before requesting an invoice from your publisher. For help, please contact the Library’s open access team, see the deposit guide, or get in touch with your librarian.
When should I apply for open access publication funding?
You should apply for open access funding at the point your journal article or conference paper has been accepted for publication.
Apply using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic and select ‘Yes’ for ‘Do you want to apply for APC funding?’ This will automatically generate an open access funding application.
How much does it cost to publish on open access?
This varies according to your publisher. Some charge as little as $300, others up to $5000. The SHERPA service maintains a list of charges made by publishers for open access publishing, and your preferred journal’s web pages should tell you what the charges are. If it is unclear please get in touch with your publisher, or contact the Library’s open access team.
Who will pay my open access fee?
Articles or conference proceedings funded by either RCUK or the funders included in the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) can be paid for via the Imperial Open Access Fund providing certain conditions are met. Please apply using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic. Please note the Imperial Open Access Fund can only be used for fully open access journals.
If you are not funded by RCUK or the charities included in the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) and have an active research award which includes publication charges, you can use that award.
If you do not have external funding or remaining funds in an active award, you can apply to the Imperial Open Access Fund using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic. Please note the Imperial Open Access Fund can only be used for fully open access journals.
My work wasn’t funded by an external award or grant. Can I apply for an APC payment?
Yes. The College has a central open access fund for authors who don’t have access to any other source of funding to cover open access costs in fully open access journals. You can make an application using the ‘Deposit my work’ link in Symplectic.
I’m a PhD student. Can I apply for an APC payment?
Yes. The Imperial Open Access Fund is open to Imperial research staff and students without sources of funding for open access costs in fully open access journals. If your research programme is funded by RCUK or the charities included in the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF), you should comply with their open access policies, and we can charge any open access costs to those funds.
What billing address should I give to a publisher?
Once funds are approved you will be provided with a purchase order (PO) number. Using this on the invoice, together with the address below, will ensure your invoice is processed correctly. The correct address is:
Imperial College London
Level 3 Sherfield Building
London, SW7 2AZ
Is the College VAT exempt?
Yes. However, this does not mean VAT does not apply. To make sure you are taxed correctly in all instances provide the publisher with the College VAT number.
What is the College VAT number?
The College VAT number is GB649926678. VAT is charged on most open access fees.
How long will it take for my APC application to be approved?
You will receive initial acknowledgment of your application within a day of submission and should receive a decision within 2-3 working days. The open access team aim to respond to all applications within 2-3 working days.
My publisher has told me I must reply in 24 hours if I want to pay for an open access fee. What should I do?
Please contact the Library’s open access team for advice. You should inform your publisher that you need to get approval for funding and will contact them again within 2-3 days. Your approval email will include further instructions.
My publisher has told me the open access fee must be paid in less than 30 days. What should I do?
You should inform your publisher that the College payment terms are that all invoices are paid within 30 days of receipt.
My work is funded by RCUK/Wellcome Trust/AR UK/Breast Cancer Campaign/BHF/CRUK/LLR. Can I get open access fees paid for me?
Yes. The College has received funds from both RCUK and the Charity Open Access Fund to pay open access charges.
Apply using the ‘Deposit your work’ link in Symplectic. Please link the relevant grant to your publication to ensure the open access fee is paid from the correct fund.
Why have I received an email saying that my APC application has not been approved?
Your notification email should provide the reason why an APC cannot be approved, and should have included information about ‘green’ open access – how to deposit a version of your work in a repository – which you can use to make your work open access. Please contact the Library’s open access team or your librarian if you need more help.
Which version of my work do you mean by accepted manuscript?
This is usually the final peer-reviewed version of your work before copy-editing, proofing and formatting.
Why do I have to give you an accepted manuscript when I make an APC application?
From 1 April 2016 the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) requires that for journal articles and conference papers to be eligible for the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the accepted manuscript should be deposited in a repository within three months of acceptance.
To help prepare for the implementation of this policy, we are asking all active researchers to deposit their accepted manuscript at the same time as making an APC application. This will ensure that you are familiar with this process before April 2016, and will help the College’s Open Access Project to ensure that the correct support is in place for you from April 2016.
open access fees continued
How should I enter the author/journal title/DOI when I’m using Symplectic?
There is no specific format for author names.
If you can enter the full journal name, not its abbreviation, that will help the open access team to locate the correct journal open access policy and speed up the application process.
Enter the DOI without the http://dx.doi.org/ prefix.
I don’t know what the DOI is. What do I do?
Please leave this field blank if your publisher hasn’t yet provided a DOI - they are often not assigned until the point of publication. If your publisher has provided a DOI it will look like this: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003703.
My publisher has charged me colour, page and /or image charges, but there isn’t a field to enter these costs with my APC application. What do I do?
None of the open access funds include costs to cover these types of charges. You will need to use an active research award or department account to cover any other publication costs, including page charges. Where possible, ask your publisher to invoice the open access fee separate from these other charges.
My publisher has included an invoice charge. Will the College pay this from the open access funds?
If your publisher has told you there will be a charge to generate an invoice, please include this information in the Application notes, included in the cost. Such costs are covered by the funds.
I am funded by a Doctoral Training Grant. Can I apply for an APC payment?
Yes. Please include information about Doctoral Training Grants in the APC Comments field when applying for APC funding.
My APC application has been rejected. How do I make my work open access?
Your notification email should have included information about ‘green’ open access – how to deposit a version of your work in a repository – which you can use to make your work open access. Please contact the Library’s open access team or your librarian if you need more help.
If you think your application has been incorrectly rejected, please contact the Library’s open access team.
My publisher has asked me if I want to go ahead with my open access order, but I haven’t had a reply from you yet. What should I do?
If you received a notification email after making an APC application, please forward this information to the open access team, including any relevant information such as the date by which the publisher needs a response. The Library’s open access team will make every effort to prioritise your application.
I have asked for open access from my publisher and received an invoice before applying for APC funding. Will you pay the invoice?
We cannot guarantee that funds will be available to pay APCs unless the application has been approved. If we have to reject your application for APC funding, we will not be able to pay your invoice, and you will have to arrange to pay it yourself, or contact your publisher to cancel your open access order. For that reason, we strongly advise that you do not request an invoice until you have confirmation from us that payment can be made.