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Last year I finished my PhD in Europe and now I'm a postdoc in North America. I work on computer science.

An year ago I wrote a paper with my former Europen supervisor and a former colleague, and submitted it to a conference. My former supervisor presented the work at the conference.

Now we just discovered that the steering committee selected our paper for a post-conference supplement in a Open Access BMC journal. We're very happy for this selection (they chose 5 papers out of 52) but there's a problem: we don't have funding to pay the ~2,000 euros publication fee for the journal.

My former supervisor has no funding at the moment; my former colleague is still a PhD student and he's broke; myself I'm a postdoc with no research funding and I'm not going to ask to my current supervisor to pay (because I don't think it's fair and anyway he'd refuse).

What should I do?

That journal publication would be very important for my career, and quite useful for our scientific community. This supplement is a very unique occasion.

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    Have you read: biomedcentral.com/submissions/article-processing-charges ? They do offer to waive the fee, if you can make a case for it. Further your University (or that of one of the co-authers) may be a member, and thus be already paying the fees for you – Lyndon White Feb 5 '16 at 4:57
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    @Oxinabox Note that if I recall correctly, the institution of the corresponding author needs to be a member in order to have the publication fees covered. – silvado Feb 5 '16 at 9:04
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    Are you sure that you have to pay the fee yourself? Check with the conference organisers about it - the "selection" may assume they cover the fees for you. – Dmitry Savostyanov Feb 5 '16 at 10:26
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    Actually it's more a duplicate of: What should I do if I cannot afford a journal Article Processing Charge? – Cape Code Feb 5 '16 at 10:31
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    Although there is similarity with the prior questions, I think that the specifics of this question are interesting enough to give some difference in the answer and to be useful as a separate question. I have voted to reopen. – jakebeal Feb 5 '16 at 12:28
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I see several routes to proceed, in the order in which I would suggest that you attempt them:

  1. Check if your former or current institution has an organizational affiliation with the journal that will allow you to publish there for free (i.e., the OA version of a subscription).
  2. Ask your current supervisor. They might be willing to pay despite not being an author, provided that you list you current affiliation as well as your former (which is generally reasonable to do).
  3. Many universities now have an open access "slush fund" to help deal with situations like these. Check with the department leadership and the libraries at both your current and former departments and see if there is such a fund.
  4. Contact the journal and explain the situation: they may be willing to waive the fee.
  5. Publish the paper in a "traditional" journal that has no fee.
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    All entirely correct, but I'd suggest for #3 that they go through the former supervisor rather than contact the old institution directly - they're more likely to agree if the local author makes a case for it. – Andrew Feb 5 '16 at 10:46
  • Thanks. Option #1 unfortunately does not work; I don't like option #2 but it might be worth trying; option #3 is something I should explore; option #4 is another possibility I should try; regarding option #5, I really would not like to renounce to this supplement possibility, because the supplement journal is very prestigious and our paper is already pre-accepted – larry Feb 5 '16 at 15:16
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The Open Access Directory (OAD) maintains a list of funds at universities and other institutions to pay these fees for affiliated researchers. http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/OA_journal_funds

  1. Check to see whether your institution has such a fund. Check the list but also check with your institution.

  2. Help update the OAD list. The OAD is a wiki open to edits by the community. To prevent spam, it limits edits to registered users, but registration is free and easy.

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