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Open access publishing

Our mission is to recognise and support excellent science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity and the good of the planet. As the national academy of science for the UK we support open access as a means of maximising the dissemination and re-use of research outputs.

What is open access?

Open access refers to the open, available publication of research papers so that anyone can access and re-use them. Open access articles, denoted by an open padlock symbol, may be accessed by anyone free of chargeTraditionally, published research outputs were only available to those who could gain access to them via a library or individual subscription. By opening up research to everyone, open access widens access to research, facilitates engagement, collaboration and understanding.

Open licences facilitate the re-use of research outputs to maximise impact and discovery.

Open access is part of the wider concept of open science which seeks to open up the entire research and publication process even further, including open data, open protocols, open code and transparent peer review.

Open access at the Royal Society

Two of our journals, Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology, are fully open access.

Our four research journals, Proceedings AProceedings BBiology Letters and Interfaceare Transformative Journals moving to a fully open access model when 75% of articles are being published open access. We report their progress here.

  OA target for 2021 No. of research articles published in 2021 Published OA in 2021 OA Actual for 2021 2021 TJ target met [Yes/No] 2022 target for %  OA 
Biology Letters   29.3%  169  42  24.9%  NO  34.3%
 
Journal of the Royal Society Interface  32.7%  271  132  48.7%  YES  56.0%
Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences  21.5%  293  80  27.3%  YES  32.3%
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences  33.2%  606  254  41.9%  YES  48.2%

We also provide authors with the choice of open access in our other journals.

Our collection of COVID-19 content is open access.

From 2022, the following article types are published open access (previously they were ‘free access’):

  • Editorials (all journals)
  • Reviews (Biology LettersInterfaceProceedings A and Proceedings B)
  • Introductory articles and prefaces (Philosophical Transactions A and BInterface Focus)
  • Dedications (Philosophical Transactions A and B)
  • Comments and replies
  • Corrections, retractions and expressions of concern (all journals)

Read & Publish

We launched Royal Society Read & Publish in January 2021 as part of our developing open access journey. If you are the corresponding author from an institution signed up to one of our Read & Publish agreements*, all open access fees and invoices are automatically covered by your library. To read more about Royal Society Read & Publish, please download our PDF flyer.
*To ensure you are not charged a fee, please ensure you select the required version of your institutional affiliation when submitting an article.

Alternatively researchers at institutions signed up to our open access membership scheme can save 25% on APCs.

Benefits of open access publishing

We apply exactly the same standards of high-quality, rapid peer review and production to all papers, whether they are available under open access or subscription only.

Authors who choose open access publication are likely to benefit from increased dissemination and citation.

Open Access Advantages

If you choose open access, for relevant journals we will deposit the article in PubMedCentral on your behalf.

You’ll also benefit from a liberal licensing and re-use policy. Our open access articles are published with a CC-BY Creative Commons licence which permits free re-use by anyone without the need to ask permission, provided that they cite the original source of the article.

Compliance with funder open access policies

Royal Society journals are compliant with all funders open access policies including cOAlition S, Wellcome Trust, ERC, HHMI, Horizon Europe, UKRI, NSF, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Australia Research Council. For a full list of funders with open access requirements, please visit the SHERPA/JULIET website

Plan S funded authors
An article can be compliant in the following ways:

  1. Published in an open access journal
  2. Published in a subscription journal provided that the Author Accepted Manuscript is deposited in an institutional or subject repository with zero embargo and CC-BY licence
  3. Published in a hybrid journal which is part of a transformative agreement in the author's country
  4. Published in a Transformative Journal
  • All Royal Society journals (both hybrid open access and fully open access) are compliant by route 2
  • Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology are compliant by route 1
  • Proceedings AProceedings BInterface and Biology Letters are compliant by route 4
  • We have transformative agreements in several countries (route 3), which means that corresponding authors covered by such agreements can publish open access without payment of an article processing charge 

Article processing charges (APCs)

Submission of an open access article is free, but if it is accepted for publication, the authors are asked to pay a fee to have their article made open access immediately upon publication, unless the corresponding author belongs to an institution signed up to one of our Read & Publish agreements. The charges are:

GBP Pound sterling USD United States dollar EUR Euro
Royal Society Open Science £1200 $1680 €1440
Open Biology £1500 $2100 €1800
All other journals £1700 $2380 €2040

Please note that the article will not be published as open access until payment is received. If payment is delayed the article will retrospectively be made open access. VAT may be applicable for these services. The open access fee includes any page charges (up to a journal's maximum, if applicable) and colour. Even if your institution is not in a Read & Publish agreement with us, your institution or research funder may still reimburse your open access charges (check with your research office).

We are committed to transparent pricing to ensure that, for open access articles, we do not receive both an article processing charge and subscription income.

Waivers

For journals where open access publication is the only option, we provide a generous waiver policy (see Open Biology and Royal Society Open Science).

APC Waivers

For journals where open access is only optional, we do not provide this fee waiver, but the content is free to access in lower to middle-income countries

If you are the corresponding author from an institution signed up to one of our Read & Publish agreements, all open access fees and invoices are automatically covered by your library. 

Royal Society research grant-holders* receive a full fee waiver on APCs (and page charges, where relevant) when they are one of the authors for articles accepted for publication in any of the journals. It is necessary to request this waiver option via the online submission system, and the grant should be current/active at the time of initial article submission.

* The following schemes are eligible: University Research Fellows, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows, Research Professors, Henry Dale Fellows, Industry Fellows, Newton International Fellows (excluding NIFS funded by the BA), Leverhulme Senior Research Fellows, Wolfson Merit award holders, Leverhulme Africa Award holders, DFID Africa Award holders and FLAIR Fellowship.

Retrospective open access

We offer authors the option for an article previously published on a subscription basis to be converted to open access. On payment of the current APC, the article is made available under our open access licence - we will take into account previous page charges for the article and reduce the APC accordingly. If you are interested, please contact the journal where the article was published, quoting the article DOI or title.

Preprints and accepted author manuscripts

Authors may deposit a preprint of their article in a repository at any time.

Further open access resources

OA licence

Transformative Journal metrics

Read & Publish for authors

Read & Publish for librarians

OA membership scheme

Free access

Open science initiatives

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