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Five Common Questions about Publishing Under UC’s Open Access Agreements

A third of all research papers published by UC authors each year are now eligible for free or reduced-cost open access publishing through one of the University of California’s systemwide publisher agreements. The goal of these agreements is to make it easier and affordable for UC authors to publish their articles with open access — increasing the reach and impact of their research by making it freely available to read.

Here are some common questions we receive from authors about these agreements:

OK, start at the beginning. How does this work again?

While the details vary slightly from one publisher to the next, the basic idea is that we are repurposing the library’s journal subscription budget to help you and other UC authors pay for open access publishing. You can still read the journals as always, but you can also publish your articles with open access for a greatly reduced fee, or at no cost to you at all.

Here is how it usually works:

  • UC negotiates a discount on the per-article open access publishing fee (also known as an article processing charge) whenever possible.
  • Then, if you choose to publish open access, the libraries will use some of our repurposed subscription funds to pay a portion of the fee for you, typically the first $1,000.
  • You’ll then be asked if you have any research funds you can use to pay the remainder of the open access fee for your article. If you don’t, no problem. Simply click the option for the UC libraries to pay the entire open access fee for you; the libraries have budgeted for the fact that some authors will need this additional financial assistance. We do not want cost to be a barrier if you would like to make your article open access.

If your journal is included in one of UC’s open access agreements, you will see all of this reflected in the same online process you already go through once your article has been accepted for publication.

Why am I being asked to pay a portion of the open access fee from my research grant?

UC’s open access publishing model is designed as a cost-share. When authors can contribute a portion of the open access fee from their research funds (for example, if you have a federal research grant, open access fees are usually an allowable expense), it allows the libraries to stretch the dollars we have repurposed from journal subscriptions so that we can support every author who wants to make their article open access.

I have a research grant, but we did not budget for open access fees. What should I do?

If you did not include open access publishing costs in your research grant budget (or your grant has expired, or the funds you have cannot be used for this purpose), the libraries can pay the entire open access fee for you. Simply select that option and use the dropdown menu to let us know why.

It is ok to request full financial assistance if your grant funds are already designated for other purposes. We realize that you may not have planned to cover open access fees when your grant proposal was written. Now that you know, we hope you will consider including open access publishing in your future grant budgets.

Can I apply to the UC Davis Open Access Fund to help cover my portion of the fee?

You don’t need to, because if you can’t cover your portion, the library will already pay the entire fee for you in any of the journals included under one of UC’s open access agreements! (See the list of publishers below.) The UC Davis Library’s Open Access Fund, which reimburses authors up to $1,000 of an article processing charge, is designed to support authors who publish in fully open access journals that are not yet included in a systemwide open access agreement.

Remind me which publishers UC has open access agreements with?

UC is working to expand the list of participating publishers, but the ten journal publishers with which UC has such agreements so far are:

  • ACM — Association for Computing Machinery
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Canadian Science Publishing
  • Elsevier
  • JMIR — Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • PLoS — Public Library of Science
  • PNAS — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Springer Nature (Nature-branded journals will be covered starting in 2022)
  • The Company of Biologists
  • The Royal Society

In addition, UC Davis has membership agreements that give authors who publish in Frontiers or MDPI journals a 10% discount on the open access publishing fee.

If you have other questions about open access publishing, please visit our webpage for more details or contact the library’s Scholarly Communications Officer Michael Ladisch at


Open Access and Scholarly Publishing


Faculty Newsletter open access