I am working on a paper together with people from another university. In one of our meetings, after I have mentioned that I do not have any funding from the university for open access, they suggested that we can pay the publication fee from private money. This puzzled me, as I have never heard that somebody is doing this.

Is it common to pay a publication fee in an open access journal from private money?

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    Do they mean out of your pocket?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 14:52
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    It's not common, but I have paid for low-cost conferences from my pocket when the bureaucracy to have them paid officially wasn't worth the time. Sometimes I feel the bureaucracy is in place precisely to save the institutions some money this way (just kidding, but only just). Commented May 26, 2021 at 15:48
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    Is "private money" a translation? It could mean two very different things Commented May 26, 2021 at 16:14
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    Whether it’s common or not is beside the point. What matters is whether you feel comfortable doing it. If you don’t, don’t agree. The other thing that matters is whether it should be common, to which the answer is “no”: academics shouldn’t be subsidizing the academic enterprise by paying to publish their work.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 17:55
  • Yes, I mean out of my pocket, i.e. from the money I get paid and I pay the rent, buy the food, pay for a childcare for my child, etc.
    – Agnieszka
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 7:56

2 Answers 2


People would rather avoid doing this, but, yes, it is possible. I can't say how common. Most academics will try to pay such fees (and other publication fees) out of grant funds. Some university departments will provide funds if asked.

But there is no prohibition about paying as a private person. Independent researchers have few options otherwise.

  • 1
    If you don't have funds (and in particular aren't affiliated with an academic institution), you can also try asking for a waiver.
    – cheersmate
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 17:36
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    @cheersmate, traditional publishers have been willing to waive fees (page fees) when asked if there are no institutional funds, but I don't know if open-access publishers will. Their business model doesn't have other means of funding unless they are grant funded themselves. Of course, some publishers have a dual model.
    – Buffy
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:13
  • I have an affiliation from an institution in the EU, in a rather "rich" country, but nonetheless they do not have the money to spend on this.
    – Agnieszka
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 7:58
  • @Agnieszka Usually that's simply not true. If it was a priority for them, the money would materialize.
    – user9482
    Commented May 28, 2021 at 5:58
  • It's possible, but it shouldn't be the responsibly of researchers to pay for their publications out of their own pocket, especially while volunteering many hours to peer-review and editorial tasks. I would refuse. Commented May 28, 2021 at 6:27

Is it common to pay a publication fee in an open access journal from private money?

No. According to Google Scholar, the majority of my publications are available open access. As far as I know, nobody paid any publication fees for any of them, and certainly nobody paid fees with their own money.

Open access fees should be paid by taxpayers as part of grants. If you do not have such a grant, publish in a closed journal and use the appropriate preprint repository.

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