How an Institutional Arrangement Works at PeerJ

Most publishers don’t talk about the details of the institutional deals they sign with Universities. In fact some publishers even include gagging clauses in their contracts which explicitly prevent their library customers from talking about how much they are paying, and for what!


To be clear, universities don’t pay for access to PeerJ content (instead they can centrally fund the purchase of PeerJ publications for their researchers), however PeerJ has no such ‘gagging clause’ for our customers – they are free to talk about what they bought and what they paid. Therefore, we thought it would be informative to lay out the options, which can be entered into by an institutional customer of PeerJ – customers which include Berkeley, Stanford, Cambridge, Amsterdam and many more.

At PeerJ, individual authors pay an ‘APC’ fee (article processing charge) per publication or they can take out a Lifetime Membership which gives them the ability to publish papers with us (provided their co-authors have a membership as well).

However, for Universities, we have found that the APC option makes most sense for their accounting, and is easiest to understand when explaining to their administration and faculty. Therefore institutions can pay the PeerJ ‘APC’ fees (but not the Membership fees) in one of two ways:

1. A ‘pre-payment account‘ approach where an institution deposits an amount of money with PeerJ. As authors from that institution submit to us, they then get the option of paying for their APC fees from that pre-paid account (which then draws down as that happens).

2. Or a university can simply agree to cover our fees on a case by case basis without going through PeerJ. In that case, they can still have a listing on our Institution page to explain how their fund works (see MIT for example) and we still alert their faculty to this fact.

The advantage of option #1 is that there is very little administration for a library to worry about once the funds are deposited. Authors can use the fund as and when they come to publish with us and they can be verified automatically by our system using their email address (i.e. it is very ‘hands off’ – they don’t need to do anything additional to take advantage of the payments).

Going this route means a library can provide an Open Access publication option to a their faculty in an extremely cost effective way. !

Institutions who sign up receive regular reporting; a public page on our site showcasing what was bought and how their faculty can use it; and marketing support. The institution gets ‘administrator level’ access to advanced analytics tools which are continually enhanced; and they get personal support.

Libraries get a $100 discount off of the prevailing APC price. Therefore, for example, if they pre-paid $5K then that would fund just over 5 publications (5 x $995 = $4,975). Libraries can choose to pay the fees ‘automatically’ or they can have manual approval over each payment. Libraries also nominate which email addresses they want to use to identify an author as coming from their institution (e.g. anyone with * in their address). We have a minimum spend of just $5K to set up one of these arrangements.

More information (including a list of institutions and selected case studies) can be found at: If you are interested in your university publishing more work via an open access mode, then we encourage you to put your librarian in touch via this form.

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