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My PhD advisor and lab colleagues think that Springer, IEEE and Elsevier journals non-open-access charge authors for publishing a paper. (They usually only publish in local journals.) All the info I've found points to the contrary (except for "gold" open access journals, which do charge authors), but all I've found are people commenting on particular journals saying that they do not charge.

I'm sorry if it's a stupid question, but I can't for the life of me find any definitive yes/no information online. (I don't have a concrete journal in mind since this all started because we are looking for one, but it'd have to be a machine learning/artificial intelligence journal.) Do Springer, IEEE and Elsevier journals charge an author fee for their non-open-access journals? It may include submission fees or post-acceptance fees as well as page or figure charges.

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Sorry, but I don't think it's in the spirit of the website to ask people to do Google work for you, in order to resolve a trivial dispute. – jwg Mar 28 '14 at 8:56
I did search; but given that: my research advisor and 4 other researchers in a research group I've recently joined (my first) were convinced there were charges; and that none of the journals I checked explicitely said there were no fees whatsoever to publish, it wasn't trivial to me. – facuq Mar 28 '14 at 17:02
Surprising that publication charges would keep a lab group from submitting to a journal. The publication cost is trivial compared to other lab expenses (e.g. postdocs), while publications in more prestigious journals help secure future grants -- and boost the careers of the authors. Even if no current grant pays for it and the university offers no funds, as long as the journal is more prestigious than free alternatives, it'd even be sensible to pay for it out of pocket. (May not apply to people in developing countries, but they tend to get fees waived anyway.) – user2898391 Dec 27 '15 at 22:46
Check te web sites of the journals looking for "instructions for authors", if that doesn't clear up the doubts, email the contact. – vonbrand Dec 28 '15 at 0:56
@user289891 In Argentina, phd candidates and postdocs are supported by scholarships from universities and other government agencies, so basically a research group or the institute it belongs to doesn't pay their salary. The same goes for full time researchers/tenured professors. This means that you can have a research group with few or no grants in some fields (ie, cs). Even if you have a grant, you need to take into account how exchange rates affect the cost of publishing. Paying a journal $500 when that's basically half your monthly salary isn't always an option. – facuq Feb 11 at 14:53
up vote 34 down vote accepted

I agree with the other answers, but they are anecdotal, and you asked for some "definitive" answers to help you convince your colleagues and advisor. Here's what I found:


None of the IEEE journals has a required charge for non-open access publications.

The publication FAQ says:

For a detailed listing of paper charges by publication, download the List of Voluntary and Overlength Paper Charges (PDF, 287 KB).

Here is the current version of that list. You will note that some journals have voluntary "sustaining" charges for "normal-length" manuscripts. In fact, IEEE policy specifically states that those charges are not obligatory:

IEEE Policy 6.9 permits some types of periodicals to levy page charges. If your publication is one of these, it is your company or institution, not you, which is being asked for support. Payment is not obligatory nor is it a prerequisite for publication.

In the statement above "page charges" refers only to charges for not-open, not-overlength, not-color-print articles. Many IEEE publications do have "overlength" page charges, which are mandatory - if your paper exceeds the "normal" length then you must either reduce the length of your paper or pay the overlength charges. The length of a "normal" paper depends on the journal and publication type (normal-length "letters" may be as short as 1 or 2 pages, for example.) Some also have charges for color figures appearing in print, although there is no charge for online-only color.

More definitive info is available for each journal in the IEEE Xplore site, at the "About Journal" page, section "Author Resources", link "Additional Information", which opens a PDF with detailed "Information for Authors" (see an example).

(The document also does not include the recently added IEEE open access options, which do have required charges, which are listed here.)


The Springer author FAQ asks


The answer there is:

For the majority of Springer journals, publishing an article is free of charge.

  • If a journal requires page charges, you will find them on the journal's homepage or in its Instructions for Authors.
  • Charges might apply e.g. for color figures or over-length articles. The information on these extra costs will also be available from the journal's homepage or its Instructions for Authors.
  • Charges for open access articles: If you choose to publish an open access article ("Springer Open Choice" article or in a "SpringerOpen" journal), there will be an Article Processing Charge (APC) to be paid by the author. As a consequence, the article can be freely read, downloaded or distributed from and by any internet user.

Furthermore, even for open-access journals, Springer advises:

SpringerOpen journals routinely waive charges for authors from low-income countries; and individual waiver requests are considered on the grounds of hardship on a case-by-case basis.

Another Springer FAQ titled Why publish with Springer? claims:

Page charges do not exist.

which I think is as close to "definitive" as you can get.


Some Elsevier journals do have author charges, and by searching the Elsevier site I did find a (very) few non-open journals with required page charges. I did not find any in CS with author charges, though.

The official policy I found is:

I am submitting my paper to one of your journals. How do I find out if there are page charges associated with this journal?

Page charges are journal specific. Many journals do not have page charges for submitted papers.

To determine whether the journal to which you are submitting has page charges, you will need to find the homepage for the journal and check it's specific submission instructions.

So if you're looking for a definitive "No page charges," Elsevier is not the answer. In practice, however, there are literally only a handful of non-open Elsevier journals that charge author fees.

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@DavidRoberts I was just collecting all the policy statements I could find to go alongside the "experience" answers, I really don't know more than this. In practice I couldn't find a single non-open Springer journal with author charges. – ff524 Mar 28 '14 at 6:48
@facuq The Springer journals do not usually say anything about charges, but the Springer policy is that "If a journal requires page charges, you will find them on the journal's homepage or in its Instructions for Authors." - so if there are no charges listed in those places, then the journal is free. – ff524 Mar 28 '14 at 17:06
@facuq There are "overlength page charges," "color images in print version charges," and for open-access, "article processing charges." Hence the qualifier, "page charge" - which is the only charge that applies to not-open, not-overlength, not-color-print articles. – ff524 Mar 28 '14 at 17:12
@facuq In general any reputable publisher make any fees apparent up-front - if they do not clearly describe any author charges (as most don't, because they are free) then you can assume there are no charges. – ff524 Mar 28 '14 at 17:13
@ff524 Yes, thanks again, I understand that now. And given the prior that they don't charge, it makes sense. But if your prior is that they do charge, like mine was, it's not immediately clear that they don't; I kept thinking that maybe there were other charges besides those for page, color and openness. You have to asume they don't because they don't say they do and consider those three the only possible charges. You can't find instructions that say "Authors can publish articles for free as long as they are not-open, not-overlength, not-color-print". – facuq Mar 28 '14 at 17:27

I have never paid for the publication of any journal paper, including papers in Springer, Elsevier, IEEE, ACM, SIAM, and AMS journals.

Some of those journals do advertise "page charges", but in my experience these are strictly voluntary. I've never paid them, and my papers were published anyway.

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Colored images in print sometimes have a fee as well. – Andy W Mar 28 '14 at 2:02
The papers I have published in various IEEE journals have had voluntary page charges up to a certain page count, say 9 pages, after which you paid some per page fee which was mandatory. If I recall correctly, it was about $175 per page. – Mad Jack Mar 28 '14 at 3:39
"Voluntary page charges"? Wow, I had never heard of such a thing. (I am in mathematics.) Does anyone pay them? – Anonymous Mar 28 '14 at 3:51
@Anonymous: I have heard of such a thing, typically at non-profit open-access journals. (I am also in mathematics.) They ask that authors pay page charges to subsidize the operation of the journal, but if and only if the authors have grant money to use for that purpose. – Mark Meckes Mar 28 '14 at 16:16
@FelipeG.Nievinski Really? Is this not direct evidence that the Springer (and other) journals that I have published in do not charge for publication? – JeffE Jun 22 at 3:17

To be certain, you'd have to check the specific journal's author instructions.

However, I've published in two Elsevier and one Springer journal (in mathematics) and never paid an author fee. The Springer journal had an open access option, which would have had a fee, but we didn't choose that option.

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Around half the titles from the major commercial publishers (Springer, Elsevier, etc) have (potential, & effectively optional) colour charges (Kiley). [Wiley is listed as "no data available" here, but I can confirm from experience that some Wiley titles do have colour charges, and have a very tedious paper-based process for paying them].

Very few of the commercial journals have page charges - usually for historic reasons - but they are still reasonably common among journals published by US scholarly societies (Curb & Abramson). Other fees (eg submission fees, revision fees, supplementary material fees, "picture on the cover" fees...) are generally rare but not unknown.

As a result, they're a significant issue in some fields, where page-charge journals are still common, but in others, you can go your entire career without ever encountering them. Hence the wide variation in answers...

Edit: I finally wrote up and published my notes on this - "Considering Non-Open Access Publication Charges in the Total Cost of Publication'", Publications, 2015, 3(4), 248-262; doi:10.3390/publications3040248

My estimate is that overall these charges (page, colour, submission, etc) are equivalent to around 2% of subscription costs, which is relatively small but (given the cost of subscriptions) substantial in cash terms. The costs appear to be very variable among disciplines (and institutions), and aren't very well recorded by our existing ways of tracking spending on scholarly publishing. Which is concerning...

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I find your "total cost of publication" (akin to "total cost of ownership") a useful concept to assess hidden charges, especially in non-OA publications. – Felipe G. Nievinski Jun 21 at 23:20
@FelipeG.Nievinski It's not mine, but I agree :-). The main focus of current work is (understandably) on calculating TCO/TCP for OA material (taking into account APCs, double-dipping, offsets, and so on), but my feeling is that page/colour/submission/etc fees are overall a noticeable & yet badly-documented cost. They used to be fairly well understood, but as they've grown rarer people tend to forget about them... – Andrew Jun 22 at 8:10

Beside the above mentioned some journals (not necessarily of the above publishers) require a fee before reviewing your submission (sometimes only if you are not part of a society).

For instance the American Sociological Review charges a "$25.00 Non-refundable Manuscript Processing Fee."

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I think the common name for them is "submission fees": – Felipe G. Nievinski Jun 21 at 23:34

It's not uncommon for charges to come in disguise, e.g., this is from the IEEE:

A mandatory Excessive Paper Length charge of $200.00 per page (beginning with page 7 and beyond) is required for papers in excess of six (6) printed pages. The author will be notified of the estimated paper length upon receipt of the original manuscript. The author will be requested, conditional upon favorable technical review, to pay an optional sustaining page charge of $110 per printed page to cover the cost of publication of the first six pages and will receive 100 black/white (no color) reprints of the paper if this charge is honored. There will also be mandatory charges for color figures.

Now comes the catch: the average paper in this periodical is more than six pages long and has at least one color figure. So in effect the majority of authors did end up being charged.

Here is some evidence that IEEE charges authors in excess of a thousand dollars per article in some of its journals. I picked IEEE JSTARS because I have experience with it, both as an author and a reviewer. I looked at the four issues published so far in the current year. I scraped the page range of each numbered contribution; there were 151-7=144 articles, after removing 7 editorials, forewords, or tables of contents. The typical article length, 12.1 pages +/- 3.2 pages (mean and standard deviation, respectively), is more than twice the nominal normal length (6 pages). Multiplying $200 times the excess number of pages gives the sought-after figure. IEEE charged authors US$ 1,213 on average as mandatory over-length fees in this journal. That's effectively an article processing charge in disguise. (I've shared the spreadsheet online.)

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I don't know where you got this. But I have published several papers in IEEE journals and was never charged and my papers were up to 14 pages in IEEE Transactions. This charge is probably for some very specific journals. – Phil Jul 16 '15 at 3:39
Re: where I got this, there's a link above in "this is from the IEEE". The over-length article charges start after various page numbers, between zero and 14, depending on the journal or magazine, see details. As for anecdotal counter evidence, I was once charged US$800 in payment for publication of a 10-page article in an IEEE Transactions journal, and another time US$600 for a 9-page article. Apparently some titles are more lucrative than others. And these were non-open-access titles -- double dipping? – Felipe G. Nievinski Jul 17 '15 at 3:00

Starting on page 35 of this pdf, this Springer journal details how there is a fee for paper submission ($75 charge for members; $100 charge for non-members) and the paper will not be forwarded to the editorial office until the payment has cleared. Additionally, there are other charges when they go to production (e.g., $50 per page for the first 5 pages, $35 per page for pages 6-10, $20 per page for 11+ pages).

I find this very odd as I've never had a journal request payment to submit or publish a paper.

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The linked document appears to be a tutorial for software used by journal publishers including Springer, not a "Springer journal". The tutorial includes, starting on page 35 a description an optional feature of this software, which as far as I know, Springer's editorial process does not use. – JeffE May 15 at 18:20

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