How to Make an Open Access Article Fee Waiver Request

Copying the letter I sent today to Cambridge University Press both as a ScholComm diary entry and as an example to authors as to how you can self-advocate for OA fee waivers. Squeaky wheels and such…

April 17, 2021

Dear Cambridge University Press Representative,

Thank you for your excellent work supporting high-quality, peer-reviewed academic publishing. I am writing as the corresponding author of an article recently accepted for your journal, Harvard Theological Review, to ask for a waiver of the Gold Open Access APC of $3200.

As a ScholComm Librarian at California State University, Fullerton, my job is to advocate for Open Access publishing for all of our faculty and students, myself included. For several years I managed our Open Access Publishing Fund, the first of its kind in the CSU. As a member of the CSU systemwide Shared Resources and Digital Content committee, the ad hoc group negotiating and implementing Transformative Agreements, and the national Open Access Transformation Working Group, I am intimately aware of trends and happenings in the space of academic publishing.

Our campus OA Publishing Fund does not cover costs associated with hybrid journals, a criterion maintained in keeping with the generally held view in the ScholComm community that APCs should be a flat, transparent amount covering all expenses associated with publishing, rather than an OA surcharge on top of subscription revenues. Nor do I have professional development funds that would cover such OA surcharges.

Our campus and the other 22 CSUs pay substantial amounts annually to Cambridge University Press in journal subscriptions and ebook licenses. While we have not yet negotiated and inked a Publish and Read Agreement with Cambridge University Press (which is my fervent hope), these institutional revenues justify exceptions being made for Gold Open Access APCs, especially for hybrid journals.

Prior to and concurrent with acceptance, and prior to signing the two different publishing agreements (Exclusive and Non-Exclusive), I archived Green OA copies of my journal article and licensed it Open Access (CC-BY) to protect and preserve my rights as an academic author for the intellectual work that I produced for your journal. The reason I signed and submitted both agreements was to ensure that I would not have to pay the $3200 OA fee in the event that my waiver request is denied.

Having the Version of Record be Open Access is preferable for all involved, leading to greater impact for the article and the journal. If Cambridge University Press will allow Gold OA gratis, then please accept my Non-Exclusive agreement. But if the $3200 fee is mandatory for Gold OA, then please accept the Exclusive agreement as my backup option.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.



Mark G. Bilby, PhD, MSLIS

Scholarly Communication Librarian

Religious Studies Lecturer

California State University, Fullerton