The Declining Organizational Support for Article Processing Charges Funding

As a recent poster presentation suggests, in many cases North American article processing charges funds have remained pilot projects, which has apparently led to their declining numbers in recent years.

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On the one hand, Andrea Wirth, in her November 2020 presentation at Charleston Library Conference, has affirmed the importance of article processing charges (APC) funds for Open Access, especially for Gold Open Access journals for which institutional repositories are not critical. Moreover, as Wirth indicates, recent research reports show that article output in the Gold Open Access sector has increased by 57% in recent years.

On the other hand, however, based on SPARC data, Wirth also demonstrates that, whereas in 2014 the numbers of APC funds has reached a high point of 56 on the background of their rapid growth in the preceding seven years, in 2019 only 37 were left after a continuous decline in their numbers from 2015 onward.

Furthermore, a Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Wirth has shone a light on the developments in the university-administered APC fund UNLV Open launched in 2018, for which the resource allocation has declined by a third from 30,000 USD in 2018-2019 to 20,000 USD in 2019-2020. Moreover, after the APC funding eligibility has been reduced to tenure track-faculty, the demand for it that the UNLV Open has faced has continued to rise in the 2019-2020 period.

As this case study illustrates, university-level APC funding is likely to be short-lived and declining in scope, despite continued growth in the Open Access sector. The significance of this is underscored by the tentative, limited-sample findings of Melissa H. Cantrell and Juleah A. Swanson, as presented in their article "Funding Sources for Open Access Article Processing Charges in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities in the United States" published in 2020, that also show that for 50% of their respondents APC funding derives from department-, university- or library-level funds.

Thus, declining APC funding is likely to represent a growing concern for university faculty.


Cantrell, M.H.; Swanson, J.A. Funding Sources for Open Access Article Processing Charges in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities in the United States. Publications 2020, 8, 12. Retrieved from

Wirth, A. (2020, November). Where are Library-Supported APC Funds Going?: The Ongoing Role of the APC Fund in Open Access Outreach. Presentation at Charleston Library Conference, Charleston, SC. Retrieved from

Featured Image Credits: Leid Library, UNLV, Las Vegas, NV, USA, February 5, 2009 | © Courtesy of Michael Sauers/Flickr.

Pablo Markin

Community Manager, Open Research Community


Go to the profile of Pablo Markin
11 months ago

As the survey of Cantrell and Swanson also indicates: "The majority of respondents are interested in taking advantage of funding for journal APCs, if the university offers such funding. It is clear that university funding for APCs, whether through the library or through the department, college, or school, is a desirable source of funding for these faculty in the humanities and social sciences."