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Open Access at Aston: Gold Open Access

Publishing outputs with paid gold open access

Gold open access refers to outputs made freely available, in perpetuity, via the publisher.

Paid open access is the model of gold open access where the author(s) must pay an article processing charge (APC) to the journal/publisher in order to make their final published article freely available in perpetuity. This encompasses fully open access journals where the journal only publishes gold open access, or hybrid open access journals where it is optional whether to pay for gold open access or publish via the standard subscription route. You may need to publish via gold open access if you have funding from one of the UK Research Councils, The Wellcome Trust, some UK medical charities, the European Commission and others. These requirements are summarised here.


Paid gold open access is different from 'free access' or 'open archive' initiatives that publishers may apply to certain articles or journals. These free access and open archive labels are not perpetual and the journal/publisher is legally able to put them behind a paywall whenever they wish. Additionally, you cannot self-archive these versions in a repository and authors and readers are limited as to how they can reuse these outputs.


Authors wishing to publish their outputs with gold open access should always choose a Creative Commons licence (preferably a CC BY) and retain copyright. 

Read & Publish and Transformative Deals

As part of our transformative/ read and publish deals with a range of publishers, Aston corresponding authors with current employment contracts or who are current students have access to a range of free or reduced APCs for original research and review articles (invited reviews, editorials, book reviews etc. are not included). You should use your Aston affiliation and email address to be included and check that the journal is eligible for the publisher's free gold open access deal. You must select a CC BY licence when offered a choice by the publishers. 

  • Eligibility is determined by corresponding author- be sure to use your Aston email and affiliation! This is checked against the current HR staff list.
  • If a publisher is not included on the list below, it means that we do not have a deal with them and any open access costs incurred will need to be met through your PASA or another funding source.
  • Additional charges such as submission fees, excess page and colour charges are not included in these deals and will need to be covered by the author(s).


Contact for further details on any of these schemes or author/article type/journal eligibility.

Publisher Hybrid Journals Included? Pure Gold Journals Included? New UKRI OA Policy Compliant Deal? Publisher Website Notes
ACM Yes Yes Yes ACM Publications List Includes conference proceedings
AIP Yes No Yes AIP Journal List Consortium cap
De Gruyter Yes No Yes De Gruyter Journal List Consortium cap
IoP Yes No Yes IoP Journal list
OUP Yes Yes Yes OUP journal list Includes case reports
Microbiology Society Yes Yes Yes Microbiology Society Journal List
Portland Press Yes Yes Yes Portland Press Journal List
RSC Yes No, 15% discount Yes RSC Journal List Yearly cap
Sage (incl. IMechE & RSM) Yes No, 20% discount Yes SAGE Journal List
Springer Yes No Yes Springer Journal List Excludes Nature & BMC titles
Taylor & Francis Yes No Yes T & F Journal Info Consortium cap; journals with APCs above £3000 excluded
Wiley (incl. IET journals) Yes Yes Yes Wiley Journal List Consortium cap, Restricted 1 July 2021 - 31 December 2021

Cambridge University Press will give Aston University corresponding authors a 20% discount on APCs from 1 Jan 2021

Wiley offers a 25% discount to Aston University corresponding authors after the yearly consortium cap has been reached. Aston authors who wish to use this discount when paying for gold open access themselves should contact 


The Excel Spreadsheet below contains a searchable list of the nearly 8,000 journals that Aston corresponding authors are entitled to free gold open access with from 1 January 2021. Note that some Read & Publish deals have yearly caps, and the allocation may run out before the end of the calendar year. Publishers may also add or remove titles without prior notice. Please email if you are unsure if your article is eligible or not. 

Open Access for RCUK grant holders

Aston has funds from UKRI to pay APCs for research and review (but not invited review) articles arising from research directly funded by the UK Research Councils: AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC or STFC. Grants that are current, or no more than one year past the award end date, are prioritised. We will not pay APCs from the RCUK block grant for RCUK grants awarded prior to 1 April 2013.


Note that publications arising from UKRI funding from Research England, Innovate UK or the UK Space Agency are not eligible for RCUK open access block grant funds under current rules.


To request gold open access via the RCUK block grant:

  1. Email at SUBMISSION or ACCEPTANCE (at the very latest) with details of the journal and grant number. 
  2. We will check that the journal offers compliant open access options for your funder.
  3. If approved, you will need to select the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) with your publisher.
  4. Gold OA articles with a CC BY licence are automatically REF eligible, though you should also add these articles to Pure so they appear on your Aston Research Explorer profile. 


The UKRI Open Access Policy will be changing from 1 April 2022 for peer-reviewed articles and 1 January 2024 for monographs,edited collections and chapters. You can find further information on these upcoming changes at the UKRI open access policy webpage

Paying for Open Access with non-RCUK or no research funding related to the output

Leverhulme, European Commission and H2020

If open access publication costs are already included in your research grant, or can be reimbursed, you should use that as a source for payment of any APCs related to that grant. At Aston, this applies primarily to European Commission (H2020 etc.) and Leverhulme grant holders.


Wellcome Trust

Aston authors with Wellcome Trust funding should first use the Journal Checker Tool to make sure the journal they wish to publish in is compliant with Plan S and the WT open access policy. Your article must be made available through PMC and Europe PMC and have a CC BY licence. 

To request article processing charge payment from Wellcome Trust, email the following details to

  • your current employing organisation
  • title of the paper
  • Wellcome grant reference number
  • journal title
  • proposed date of publication
  • cost of the open access fee.

They will liaise with you directly to discuss the payment of original research open access fees. 



The NIHR open access policy will be changing from 1 June 2022. This new policy will apply to all NIHR funded articles (research articles, non-commissioned reviews, published conference papers) submitted on or after 1 June 2022. Applicable grants include: 

Further guidance on the new policy and paying APCs will be released in March 2022. 


Non-funded authors

If you do not have any research funding and the journal you wish to publish paid open access in is not included in any of the above Read & Publish/ Transformative deals, then you will need to arrange payment of the APC from alternate sources. The Institutional Open Access fund was closed in November 2019. The Library can not pay APCs for any articles that do not have RCUK funding. Please refer to Aston's Interim Open Access Policy for further information.


The Library is not responsible for any open access fees incurred without our knowledge or approval.

Diamond Open Access

Diamond open access is a model of open access where a journal is completely open access, yet does not levy an article processing charge (APC). More than 70% of open access journals fall into this category. Diamond open access journals exist across the academic spectrum and reputable journals provide the same level of peer review and editorial oversight as traditional subscription or gold open access journals. has a filter that can be used to find open access journals that do not charge article processing fees. These journals have all been checked and vetted according to DOAJ's strict guidelines. 

The Open Library of Humanities also publishes a number of diamond open access journals across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. 

Predatory Publishers

Unfortunately in open access publishing there are publishers who exploit the Gold open access route to publication. These are predatory publishers with no academic credibility and often have fabricated editorial staff and/or journal names that closely resemble well-known reputable ones. These publishers frequently solicit submissions via spam emails and may offer to waive APC fees initially before charging numerous additional fees (submission, page, review, expedited service, withdrawal, etc.). 

Examples of publications in predatory journals can be found here:

If you are considering publishing in a journal that is new to you, or that you think may not be entirely legitimate, please get in touch with us to discuss your concerns before agreeing to publish or pay any fees. You can also use Think, Check, Submit to help you choose which journals to publish in. 

Please note that Library Services will not pay any APCs for articles submitted to known predatory journals. 

Flipping a journal to OA or starting an OA journal

Are you an editor for a traditionally published subscription journal? Or have you and like-minded colleagues ever thought about starting up an open access journal? If so, take a look at the following resources for some information on initial steps to get started!

Useful Tools for Authors

  • SHERPA-RoMEO presents a summary of permissions normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.
  • SHERPA-FACT is a tool to help researchers check if journals comply with their funder's requirements for Open Access to research.
  • Creative Commons licence information