As a person from a developing country, we (most of the times) do not have funding to pay for publishing papers. As more and more journals in the field (neuroimaging) become open-access, I find myself with reduced publication opportunities in journals which are widely read (for example, NeuroImage).
In the last open-access journal submission, in our initial cover letter to the Editor-in-Chief (EiC), we mentioned that we would like a full or a partial waiver on the publication charges. The paper went through three rounds of revision and then got accepted but the EiC/Journal did not reply to our query on whether a waiver was granted. Eventually after many email reminders (and an unnecessary two month delay), the journal granted us a full waiver and the paper got published.
My questions are:
Is there a way to check about the possibility of a waiver before sending the paper? I mean it would be a difficult situation for everyone if the paper is accepted but we can't afford to pay the money! However, pre-submission inquiries are not meant for this
This is likely journal and EiC dependent but is this sort of behaviour acceptable? I mean if the journal is open-access, doesn't it automatically imply that folks who cannot pay shouldn't approach the journal?
What are the factors that decide whether such a waiver request is granted? Track history of publication in that journal? Having a good reputation in the field?
What about the repeatability aspect of waivers? For example, would it be exploitative to send papers to the journal which was kind enough to give us a waiver once?
Side note: I am from India. Until recently, India was usually on the list of countries where the journal automatically provided (at least) 50% waiver; India is no longer on that list