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An alternative to ‘green’ open access (self archiving of the accepted manuscript), is to make a paper immediately open access on publication. This is called ‘gold’ open access, and publishers charge to make articles 'gold' open access (via an Article Processing Charge, or APC).

The amount that publishers charge for gold open access varies considerably, from nothing to nearly £10,000, and some publishers offer membership or institutional discounts on the price list. The average APC the Open Access Service paid in 2021 was £1,646 (including VAT), although individual APCs range from as much as £9,952 to as little as £1,150. Information on the APC charged by a particular journal will be displayed on the publisher's website, usually in their open access section. 

The University of Cambridge offers support to its researchers in the following ways:

  1. The University receives block grants to cover article processing charges for papers that acknowledge a research grant from: British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, UKRI/RCUK (AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC) and Wellcome Trust, and which are covered by the funder's open access policy. Researchers can find out more about the conditions that apply for access the block grants through our Open Access Resources or our summary of conditions for using the block grants

  2. The University has entered into a number of publishing deals; if a paper is published via one the deals then the open access charge has been paid for in advance by the University. Researchers can find out more about the conditions that apply for accessing the different deals on our website. 

  3. Some departments and institutes receive core grants, which cover open access publishing costs. Conditions apply, and researchers should speak to their departmental administrator for more information. 

  4. The University has an institutional fund available for staff and students who are producing original research papers (i.e., papers that report the results of a research project) or non-narrative reviews (such systematic reviews, systematic-literature reviews, analyses, meta-analyses and metasyntheses), but have no access to any alternative means to pay open access charges in fully open access journals. Find out more about the fund on our website.