FAQ - Open Access Funds



Why an APC price cap?


As the APC-funded model of OA publishing has grown, concerns have been raised over its sustainability. It is especially worrying that APCs are showing annual increases much beyond the rate of inflation. For example, the report Monitoring the Transition to Open Access indicates a 16% increase in the average APC amount from 2013 to 2016 for the UK, while the Consumer Price Index rose only 5%. Data from 2005 to 2018 on the APCs paid by European institutions shows that from a mean APC of €858 in 2005, APCs have nearly doubled, to over €1600 in 2018 ( Aasheim et al., 2019 ). These increases in APCs impose an unsustainable pressure on the budget of Lib4RI, Eawag, and Empa. To counteract escalating APCs, Eawag and Empa introduced an APC cap of CHF 3000 in their Open Access Publication Funds in July 2019. This is in line with the regulations of other European research institution (e.g. TU9-Guideline ; max. EUR 2000) and funders (e.g. FWF ; max. EUR 2500). It should also be noted that a price cap of CHF 3000 does exclude only very few, very expensive OA-Journals from funding. According to the OpenAPC database collecting data on APCs paid by European institutions, only 3% of more than 1000 OA-journals included in the database charge APCs of more than CHF 3000 (data: OpenAPC 2019 ).


Why do you not partly fund APCs exceeding CHF 3000?


First, an APC cap should both signal to researchers and to the publishing industry that Open Access needs to remain affordable. Partly funding APCs exceeding the APC price cap would not send this signal. Second, in most situations both parts of a “splitted APC” would ultimately be paid by Eawag or Empa. The splitting of the APC would increase the administrative effort for handling the invoice(s) and, therefore, even increase the actual costs for Eawag and Empa.


Why are Hybrid Open Access journals excluded from funding?


Hybrid Open Access describes a publishing model where some articles are made Open Access, against the payment of an APC, while other articles remain Closed Access, and the journal as a whole is subscription-based. The problem of Hybrid Open Access is the so called “double dipping”, i.e. paying twice to publish and read the same article. Publishers collect money when subscriptions are paid by the library (ultimately paid by Eawag and Empa) and once more when authors are charged an APC to make their article Open Access. If the APC for the article is funded by the Open Access Publication Fund of Eawag and Empa, the institutions pay twice for the same article.

Technically, publishing an article Open Access as part of the Read & Publish agreements with Elsevier and Springer is also a form of Hybrid Open Access. However, double dipping is avoided here because reading access and Open Access publishing fees are covered by a flat fee to the publisher.

Further reading:
Mittermaier B. Double Dipping in Hybrid Open Access – Chimera or Reality? 2015.
Matthias L. The worst of both worlds: Hybrid Open Access. OpenAIRE. 2018.


A journal claims that it is OA but I cannot find it in the DOAJ. What is wrong?


There are three typical reasons why a journal is not indexed in DOAJ:

  • The journal is a Hybrid Open Access journal (see above). Hybrid Open Access journals are not indexed in the DOAJ, only pure Open Access journals. Please also note that Hybrid Open Access Journals are excluded from funding.
  • The journal does not meet the criteria for inclusion in DOAJ and was rejected by DOAJ. Avoid publishing in these journals.
  • The journal is very new (< 6 months) and not yet indexed in the DOAJ. If this is the case, we might still cover the APC. Contact us!