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Open Access Author Fee Fund FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this initiative needed?
Currently, most scholarly journals are supported through a combination of page fees and subscriptions. If these journals are to convert to open access, they must be assured that there is available a steady stream of revenue from author fees. The ULS’ Author Fees Fund, along with publication subsidies from granting agencies, can help provide that assurance and promote and support Open Access.

Isn’t author self-archiving good enough?
Author self-archiving is becoming an important part of the scholarly communication process. Researchers can make their peer-reviewed published work available in the institutional repository at the University of Pittsburgh, D-Scholarship@Pitt, or discipline-specific repository, such as PubMed Central or Scientific Commons. Most author self-archiving initiatives, however, do not post the version of the research as published.

Are authors being told where they can publish?
No. Authors are free to publish wherever they want. Their choice is only restricted if they wish to apply for ULS funds to support open access publication. If they wish to use ULS funds, then they must select a journal that complies with the program’s Requirements and Eligibility.

Who determines whether a journal is eligible?
Authors must confirm when applying for funds that the journal complies with all Author Fees Fund eligibility requirements. Authors should evaluate the quality of an open access journal’s content and reputation, as well as the value of its services, in comparison to its fee schedule when deciding whether to place a manuscript with that journal, just as authors currently assess quality when placing their manuscripts with subscription-based journals. Final determination will be made by the ULS.

Who decides which applications are funded?
Funds are authorized on a first-come, first-served basis, assuming that the author acknowledges that all requirements have been met.

Can an author apply an unlimited number of times each year?
Yes, authors can apply to have as many eligible articles funded a year as are published. However, a single author cannot be approved for use of the fund beyond $3,000 per fiscal year per author.

What if an article has authors from institutions other than the University of Pittsburgh?
All articles published by eligible Pitt authors in eligible Open Access journals will be fully funded regardless of whether or not the article is also authored by individuals outside of the University of Pittsburgh

Can the Author Fees Fund be used to support the publication of formats other than journal articles such as open access conference presentations and monographs?
Not at this time. The Fund is for peer-reviewed journal articles only.

What fees are eligible?
Publication charges can encompass some or all of the fees charged by a publisher for article processing services, such as article publication fees proper, page charges, and color illustration charges.

What happens if it is unclear as to whether or not a publisher meets the criteria?
This is possible. New Open Access publishers and programs are emerging and older programs are being revised. Accordingly, any unclear publisher policies will be thoroughly investigated before a decision is made by the ULS. Contact the ULS with questions by e-mailing

When will my author fee be paid to the publisher?
After we review and approve your application to the Author Fee Fund, we will request that you provide us with an invoice from the publisher. In order to facilitate payments please send us the invoice as soon as you receive it and we will do our best to process it as quickly as possible.  However, occasionally there are delays in the payment process that are outside our control and can take up to several months.  Please forward to us all communications with the vendor about invoice payment.

Who decides other aspects of the fund’s implementation?
Implementation of the fund is handled by the ULS. All aspects of the policy, including the parameters of the payment calculation, will be reviewed each year and adjusted in light of the experience over the year.

How do I know whether I am an author eligible for funds?
You are an author eligible to apply for publication funds if you are faculty, staff, a postdoctoral associate, or student at the University of Pittsburgh and NOT in one of the six health sciences schools. If you are in one of the following six health sciences schools, you are not eligible for funds: Dental Medicine, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health.