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I have had a paper accepted to a journal. In the submission process, there was a question whether the paper would be Open Access, I said yes, thinking there was no fee!

After the acceptance, the publisher told me that I had to pay the Open Access fee! I did not know that there was a fee at all! Otherwise, I wouldn't have submitted my paper in this journal at all.

I am from a developing country and I can't pay the fee without a fund, which is not possible! What can I do?

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    I edited your question for English. I also would note that usually papers are not "published" until the fee is paid, so I changed that. However, I don't know every journal, so I could be wrong about that. Oct 27, 2023 at 0:28
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    @AzorAhai-him- I've learned through this site that some predatory publishers will say that the paper has been "published" and post it on their website before demanding a fee, presumably because they believe this makes the authors feel compelled to pay even if they didn't expect the fee. Then if someone won't pay they start making threats, and suggestions like shaking down coauthors for money, etc. So, I do think if any of that happens it would increase the likelihood that the venue is not reputable.
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 27, 2023 at 18:25
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    @BryanKrause You may be correct. I defer to your modliness to adjust the language. Oct 27, 2023 at 22:08

3 Answers 3

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You can:

  1. Pay the fee, perhaps after asking for a reduction or waiver based on your location.

  2. Ask them to change to no longer Open Access.

  3. Ask to withdraw your paper from the journal.

If you don't want to do (1), and they say no to (2), your only remaining option is (3). In this case, you're also probably lucky you didn't do (1), because this would seem to be a predatory publishing practice; you might even be lucky they didn't say yes to (2), because it might indicate that the journal is worse than merely predatory and is outright fraudulent. If they refuse (3), that's okay, you can just ignore them, be certain that they are predatory/fraudulent, and take your paper elsewhere (as long as you haven't already signed anything giving away your rights to your work; if you have you may want to look for an opinion from a lawyer at your institution).

In the future, also read carefully any "instructions to authors" content on the publisher's website for any information on fees. If a journal is not clear about their fees even if you've looked for them, I'd take that as a good indication the journal is not reputable and you should stay away.

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    I’d add “4. Check if the fees cannot be waived for members of developing countries” as this is often the case!
    – user126108
    Oct 26, 2023 at 23:17
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    @leonos Well, probably that should go first. Oct 27, 2023 at 0:28
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    And a "5". Request a discretional waiver. I did for SN (SpringerNature) journal: post paper acceptance. Though, I only requested a 50% APC discount. Oct 27, 2023 at 6:27
  • Thank you Sir, in fact I shall try (2) and (3).
    – Raafat
    Oct 27, 2023 at 7:31
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    I'd add "6. Write to members of your scientific community that you know, especially those involved in the journal, so that they are aware of your situation and realize that people like you are excluded from the publication system they are currently supporting." This may not solve your immediate problem (although maybe important people at the journal could pressure the publisher into accepting a discretional waiver); but cases like yours may eventually encourage your community move towards publication models (such as diamond open-access journals) that do not exclude authors who cannot pay APCs.
    – a3nm
    Oct 27, 2023 at 17:02
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Is the journal in question open access only? Or is it a hybrid journal that has both a subscription option (where you would not be expected to pay publication costs) and an open access option. This would obviously change what options you have.

First off, you can always explain your situation and ask for a waiver. Generally, waivers have to be requested early in the process of manuscript submission (whatever the reason for the waiver is). Most major publishers have explicit rules for this. So I wouldn't count on a waiver this late in the process. It's worth a try though and I think this is your best bet - especially if you are from a developing nation.

Alternatively, you could ask to switch out of open access (assuming the journal is hybrid and has a subscription model as well). I think you might run into an issue here though. Submissions usually contain binding language and the publisher/journal might not let you switch. I don't necessarily think that this is an indication of (low) quality - rather it's dependant on behind-the-scenes bureaucracy.

I don't think there is any harm in pursuing either (or both) of these options. If neither works out, you could always look around for some money to pay for publication. I don't know your situation or affiliation but it may be that your university has some money for this sort of thing. Or there may be some other source of funds. I think it's worth looking into.

Personally, I would not pay out-of-pocket for this. At that point, withdraw and resubmit elsewhere. Assuming you've initially submitted to a quality journal, you should have no trouble publishing elsewhere. It isn't unusual to include previous reviews and you could certainly let the editor of a different journal know what's going on (i.e., that the paper was accepted but withdrawn due to funding issues). That isn't a way to circumvent further review but it would likely smooth the process and increase your chances of a quick acceptance.

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    +1. "Funding issues" is good wording, because it covers "I did have funds for OA, but they were cut" as well. Oct 27, 2023 at 6:31
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    Thank you Sir, the journal is a hybrid journal that has both a subscription option. So in fact, I didn't expect to pay publication fee! If they asked me before publication, I had to withdraw my paper, but after the publication, it is a problem.
    – Raafat
    Oct 27, 2023 at 7:37
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Given that you are from a developing country, be aware that most - if not all - journals providing some sort of funding (i.e., vouchers, discounts, ans other subsidies) to support open-access publishing. I doubt this journal is any different. If you have not already done so, just inquire about this. Please feel free to continue keeping us abreast!

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