I am a fresh PhD student and I have a question regarding the scientific publication process.

Let's say that I have submitted a paper to a certain journal in Springer, Elsevier etc... and it has been published.

The editor will charge 31.95$ to anyone who would eventually download my article.

How much do I get from it (as the article's writer) ?

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    You are mistaken to assume that there are real people out there that actually buy individual articles for 31.95$ a piece. – xLeitix Jan 9 '15 at 22:20
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    I have actually seen a comment on SpringerLink from someone who has bought a paper at this price. The comment was a complaint at the lack of value in the purchase. – user136 Jan 9 '15 at 22:28
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    @xLeitix Not so fast! ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery, the professional society for computer science) makes a significant fraction of its publication revenue from non-subscriber downloads of conference and journal papers from their Digital Library, at $15 per paper. – JeffE Jan 10 '15 at 0:31
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    @JeffE Is there data on this? Who's the demograpics that actually does this? (and, most importantly, why?) – xLeitix Jan 10 '15 at 8:06
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    Not exactly an answer to your question, but in Germany you can get a small one-time revenue (roughly 0.001 € per word, IIRC) from the Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort, which come from a tax on printers, photocopiers and the like. (And yes, this holds for articles published in foreign journals.) – Wrzlprmft Jan 10 '15 at 10:21

How much do I get from it (as the article's writer) ?


Moreover, through subscription fees, your university is very possibly paying a substantial amount of money for access to your work.

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    And quite probably most (if not all) of the downloads are from users with institutional access to the article as well. – o4tlulz Jan 9 '15 at 21:31
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    Although some journals will kindly allow you to download your own articles for free. Check out Science's rightslink, e.g. – dbn Jan 9 '15 at 22:46
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    @dbw I never had could imagine such benevolence! There is certainly hope for the sharing scientific community. – Alex Jan 10 '15 at 8:22
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    Just thank the journal editors that they don't charge you the "downloading fee" every time the article is accessed. I really mean it and intend to do it the next time I hear from somebody that he couldn't get my paper because it was behind a paywall though I do not believe that it'll bring the journal editors back to their senses. As to "you've been already paid for your work" and "high typesetting expenses", this is just a ridiculous nonsense invented by the publishers to keep the science community at bay and milk it easily... – fedja Jan 10 '15 at 12:33

You normally get nothing.

Unlike a book, where you retain the rights as author to some of the proceeds from the sales of the textbook, unless you have some very special arrangement in place with the publisher, the publisher normally keeps all of the proceeds from subscription fees.

(Note in part that very few copies of articles are sold through the publisher. That's one of the reasons why they're so expensive. In general, most people who want such an article do so through interlibrary loan agreements or by directly contacting authors.)

  • This doesn't make much sense, does it? I mean, from the intellectual property perspective, I don't see much difference between authoring a book and a research paper. So, why different sets of rights are used? – Aleksandr Blekh Jul 6 '15 at 2:16

You will not receive any royalties from an academic publisher (for an article---books are different). You may even need to pay to have the article published, although in many fields, the best journals are free to publish in.

You will, of course, get the benefits of exposure and possibly opportunities to network with other researchers. But there are no financial benefits from publishing scholarly articles.

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    there are no financial benefits from publishing scholarly articles that's not entirely true. There are large sums of money at stake (grants, appointments, etc.) that depend on how much and where you published. – Cape Code Jan 10 '15 at 12:15

Cf. my answer to the "How much do Springer-Verlag authors make per book sold?" question:

If the Work is sold electronically as part of a Springer e-book package, Author will receive an equitable share of royalties from the income generated by Springer from the e-book package. The share formula for each individual title within the e-book package will be determined by Springer no later than April for the preceding calendar year. This amount will be paid in addition to the royalty described above and shown separately on the annual royalty statement.

The same stipulation might hold for articles, too.

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    This refers to how Springer calculates royalties for e-books that are downloaded via a subscription rather than sold individually (and thus don't have a clear sales price). It doesn't apply to journal papers, because Springer doesn't pay any royalties for them, regardless of whether they are purchased individually or through a subscription. – Anonymous Mathematician Jan 10 '15 at 2:25

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