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My team's article was published online 2018, with me as the lead author and corresponding author. The print publication followed in early 2019. Shortly thereafter I received the bill for the publication fees. These should be paid by the institution where the working group is located (I am now working elsewhere). This was assured to me by my supervisor. I forwarded the mail with the invoice to him and was again promised that he would take care of the payment. As I learned a few weeks later, the head of the institution refused to pay, as there were currently no funds available. Last week I learned that such bills are not being paid at the moment, as the budget of the institution has not yet been released. The bill is due next week.

  1. What does usually happen if such a bill is not paid on time?
  2. Is my publication in danger?
  3. Should I contact the publisher and inform them about the situation and ask for a respite?
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    1. We can't know. 2. We can't know. 3. Yes. – user68958 Apr 7 at 19:15
  • @corey979 This is surely nothing that happens only to me, so it would be helpful to learn how publishers in general handle such problems. – cephalaea Apr 7 at 19:20
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    So, contact the publishers... Why do you think we can answer? – Solar Mike Apr 7 at 19:26
  • @corey979 I changed the first question. – cephalaea Apr 7 at 19:26
  • They can dump your paper (unlikely) or give you an extension to pay the fee (likely) – Solar Mike Apr 7 at 19:27
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Definitely contact the publisher about this. This is a publisher-level question, and likely not something the editorial board will be able to handle.

The good news is that the publisher is almost as interested as you are in getting the paper published. They (or the editorial board) have already put in the effort to get it peer reviewed, and from your description, they've likely also put in the effort to copyedit/typeset/get a DOI/etc. They have little to gain by not publishing the paper, and while putting a paper online for free is not ideal, there's something to be said for building goodwill as well.

I suspect the most likely result is that they'll hold off on Open Access. In other words, your paper will be available to subscribers only. If this isn't possible (the journal is open access only), they might delay publication until the payment is received. If the payment is never going to come, they might publish anyway but hold on to the copyright (free access, not open access), or provide a heavy discount or even just give free OA. For example, if the editorial board tells the publisher your paper is really good, they might be more inclined to give free OA.

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