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Understanding and Preparing for Publication Costs

Aug 3, 2017, 16:52 PM by Melodi Moore
A guest blog by Craig Cassidy, Associate Director, Research Advancement 

As a researcher, you have undoubtedly heard the saying that “If it’s not published, it never happened.” As federal and state budgets tighten, it is vital that faculty properly budget their research grants for the rising costs of publications and to account for open access. UTMB research faculty spent approximately $3,000 per publication year-to-date, which will come to just over $3,000,000 in publication costs on the year. Back in 2012 Harvard University sent out a memo to the university’s teaching and research staff asking them to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls and to make their research freely available through open access journals. And of course, the NIH requires deposition of papers for open access.

To help you reach the correct audience and to help your pre-award and research development staff to prepare your draft budgets we have provided the following guidelines and reference material.

  • Based on publication costs on average, we suggest that you budget $3,500 per every $125,000 of direct costs in your grant. This is in-line with general NIH numbers.
  • If you have an established publication record and know your target journals, please use the data below to help you enter the correct budget numbers.
  • In your budget justification, you can justify this number as follows: “Funds are requested to support publication and dissemination of the research findings. We anticipate publishing two manuscripts per year from this project. Costs are estimated based on our previous experience in the laboratory at an average rate of $3,500 per manuscript.  Typical manuscripts for the lab are to PLoS One, Cell and the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

We have reviewed the publications by UTMB faculty over the past three years. From the list of over 1,100 journals, we ranked the top 250 most used journals and have compiled an estimated cost per publication to help you in planning your budgets. There are three basic models for the journals.

  • Free to publish
  • Pay for Open Access and everything is included
  • Pay per page and pay an additional fee for open access

Many journals now require a nominal fee $25-75 per submission, and this price is not included in the list. This price in several cases is different based on your membership. If the journal requires a per page fee, we note the requirement but do not include a calculation of the fee. These prices are as of June 2017 and may be different when you submit your paper. Please review the current pricing provided by your publisher before proceeding.


For more information about open access and journal pricing, please see the following links:

Open access: The True cost of science publishing, Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money. Richard Van Noorden, Nature 495, 426-429 (28 March 2013)

Reporting Instructions for Publications Supported by Shared Resources in Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) and Renewal Applications (March 24, 2016)

Link to pdf of journal fees calculated