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 and open science 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 charge. Traditionally, 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 protocols, open code and transparent peer review
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. Data from our Transformative Journal articles published in 2021 shows that open access papers received on average 29% more citations, 34% higher Altmetric scores and 60% more downloads than subscription articles.
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.
Open access at the Royal Society
The Royal Society is a member of OASPA, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
We provide authors with the choice of open access in all of our journals.
Two of our journals, Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology, are fully open access.
Our four research journals, Proceedings A, Proceedings B, Biology Letters and Interface, are Transformative Journals moving to a fully open access model when 75% of articles are being published open access. We report their progress here.
From 2022, the following article types are published open access (previously they were ‘free to access’):
- Editorials (all journals)
- Introductory articles and prefaces (Philosophical Transactions A and B, Interface 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 and visit our Read & Publish for authors or Read & Publish for librarians pages.
*To ensure you are not charged a fee, please ensure you select the required version of your institutional affiliation when submitting an article.
Open Access Membership
Researchers at institutions signed up to our Open Access Membership scheme can save 25% on article processing charges (APCs). To read more, visit our Open Access Membership for authors or Open Access Membership for librarians pages.
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. They are compliant with US federal public access policies under the 2022 OSTP ‘Nelson Memo’. 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:
- Published in an open access journal (Open Biology or Royal Society Open Science)
- Published in a Transformative Journal (Proceedings A, Proceedings B, Interface and Biology Letters)
- Published via a transformative agreement which means that the corresponding author who is covered by such agreements can publish open access without payment of an article processing charge (all Royal Society journals)
Authors may deposit a preprint of their article in a repository at any time.
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 or qualifies for a waiver. The charges are:
GBP Pound sterling
USD United States dollar
Royal Society Open Science
|All other journals**
*For new Short Communication articles submitted to Open Biology from 1 August 2023 to 31 January 2024, the Article Processing Charge will be reduced to £1050*. Manuscripts submitted outside this time will not receive a discount. This discount is only available to new submissions and not revised manuscripts received during this time. Manuscripts that receive a reject and resubmit decision will not have this discount applied if a resubmission is submitted after 31 January 2024. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts. Please let the Editorial Office know of any queries.*
**For new manuscripts submitted to Biology Letters from July to December 2023 (inclusive), the APC for open access publication will be half the normal rate and reduced to £850**. Please do let the editorial office know of any queries. Manuscripts submitted outside this time will not receive a discount. This discount is only available to new submissions and not revised manuscripts received during this time. Manuscripts that receive a reject and resubmit decision will not have this discount applied if a resubmission is submitted after 31st December 2023. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts.**
Our APC pricing reflects the service the journals deliver to the research community and covers integrity checks, management of peer review, online hosting, promotion, author support, our many open science and reproducibility initiatives and ongoing investment in technology. Any surplus generated is used to further the Society’s mission objectives.
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.
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. Researchers at institutions signed up to our Open Access Membership scheme can save 25% on APCs.
Our Royal Society Open Access Equity scheme supports tens of thousands of eligible researchers in over 100 low- and middle-income countries and territories by providing automatic APC waivers in all Royal Society journals.
For journals where open access publication is the only option, we provide a generous waiver policy that includes discretionary waivers for those who lack funds (see Open Biology and Royal Society Open Science). The same waiver policies will apply to our Transformative Journals when they flip to gold open access.
Royal Society Research Fellows
The Society’s journals no longer automatically waive article processing charges (APCs) for Royal Society Research Fellows for open access publication – this applies to all new submissions from 1 March 2023.
If you are submitting an article type that may be subject to an APC, the main options for publishing open access from this date are:
- Where your institution has signed a Read and Publish agreement, which will cover the APC without cost to you
- Research grant-holders of major schemes administered by the Royal Society* now have the opportunity to meet the cost of APCs from their grant. This applies to active schemes i.e. current grant-holders as well as new ones.
- Meeting the APC cost from other sources such as the Wellcome Trust or institutional open access funds.
We will waive the APC for submissions before 1 March 2023 where (1) does not apply.
*Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows, FLAIR Fellows, Henry Dale Fellows, Newton International Fellows, Research Professors, University Research Fellows.
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.