The wave of open-access journals shifts the cost of access from readers to authors. The older former print-only publishers often charge authors over $2,000 or more per paper. Comparison with new scholarly journals who are also open-access but only charge authors $100’s to around $1,000 indicates these charges include a huge profit. This high cost may be justified if you are getting into a top-ranked journal (e.g. Impact Factor of 10 or more) but I suggest is not good value for typical specialist journals. Paying such high fees encourages such journals to charge them despite our universities already paying subscriptions to them (so-called double-dipping).

The good news is there are excellent scholarly journals with prestigious editorial boards which are much lower cost, or become open access after some months (so those who pay a subscription get early free access), or are immediately free to authors and readers due to support from a research institute. Most of these have respectable impacts factors of over 1.

The new Free Journal Network initiative is encouraging the science community to support free to authors and readers journals. Listed journals are vetted by experts and pre-approve their listing. If you know of well-established, scholarly, free-to-authors and open-access, journals please let info@freejournals.org know.

Here are some good open access journals (and their supporting organisation) in the field of marine and/or biodiversity science:

  1. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology (Italian Association of Limnology and Oceanology)
  2. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências (Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences) is the official journal of Academia Brasileira de Ciências (Brazilian Academy of Sciences)
  3. Animal Migration (De Gruyter publisher)
  4. Arquipelago, Life and Marine Sciences (University of the Azores)
  5. Arthropoda Selecta (KMK Scientific Press Ltd)
  6. Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny  (Senckenberg)
  7. Atoll Research Bulletin (Smithsonian, information for authors)
  8. Beche de Mer Bulletin  (supported by Australian Government, European Union, France and New Zealand Aid Programme)
  9. Biological Communications (supported by Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)
  10. Biodiversity Informatics (University of Kansas)
  11. Biogeographia – The Journal of Integrative Biogeography (Italian Biogeography Society)
  12. Blumea (Naturalis)
  13. Bonn Zoological Bulletin (Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Germany) 
  14. CIOH Scientific Bulletin for oceanographic research (General Maritime Directorate (Dimar), Columbia)
  15. Conservation and Society (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, ATREE)
  16. Current Science (Current Science Association and the Indian Academy of Sciences)
  17. Earth System Science Data (ESSD) (Copernicus Publisher)
  18. Ecological Processes (Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  19. ERLACS – European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (social sciences, Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA), University of Amsterdam)
  20. European Journal of Taxonomy (a consortium of European natural history institutions and museums)
  21. ExRNA (extracellular RNA journal) (Nanjing University)
  22. Forest Ecosystems (Beijing Forestry University)
  23. Frontiers in Biogeography (International Biogeography Society) [publication costs range from US$150-300 for those able to pay]
  24. Geoscience Frontiers (China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and Peking University)
  25. Hystrix – The Italian Journal of Mammalogy (the Italian Society for Theriology)
  26. Iheringia, Série Zoologia (Museu de Ciências Naturais of the Secretaria do Meio Ambiente e Infraestrutura – RS)
  27. International Aquatic Research (Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon Branch, Iran)
  28. Invertebrate Zoology (KMK Scientific Press Ltd)
  29. Journal of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries (University of Kerala, India)
  30. Journal of Indonesian Natural History (Department of Biology of the Andalas University, Indonesia and Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark)
  31. Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science (CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in association with the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society)
  32. Marine & Fishery Sciences (MAFIS) (National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development – INIDEP, Argentina)
  33. Mediterranean Marine Science (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research)
  34. Micronesica (University of Guam), has voluntary page charges.
  35. NAMMCO Scientific Publications series (North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission)
  36. Natural Systems and Resources (Volgograd State University)
  37. Nauplius (Brazilian Crustacean Society)
  38. Neotropical Biodiversity (Ecuador´s National Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation)
  39. Notulae Algarum (AlgaeBase, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
  40. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia (PAZ) (Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo (MZUSP))
  41. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation (Brazilian Association for Ecological Science and Conservation)
  42. Physical Oceanography (Earth Sciences Division of Russian Academy of Sciences and Ministry for Science and Higher Education of Russian Federation)
  43. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology (National University and National History Museum of Singapore)
  44. Revista de Biología Tropical (University of Costa Rica)
  45. Russian Arctic (Russian Centre of Information and Legal Support for the Development of the Arctic)
  46. Scientia Marina (Institut de Ciències del Mar de Barcelona, CSIC)
  47. Species Diversity (Japanese Society of Systematic Zoology)
  48. TAPROBANICA, The Journal of Asian Biodiversity (Faculty of Mathematics & Natural Sciences (FMIPA) of the University of Indonesia); voluntary payment of costs towards publication and colour figures
  49. The Journal of Basic and Applied Zoology includes physiology, ecology, biology (Egyptian Society for Biosciences Advancement)
  50. Vertebrate Zoology (Senckenberg Museum of Zoology Dresden, Germany)
  51. Web Ecology (European Ecological Federation)
  52. Zoological Studies (Academia Sinica, Taipei)  
  53. Zoosystematics and Evolution (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin)

AND

Diversity and Distributions is open-access and will waive page charges for anybody who lacks funds, and automatically for some countries. This is after some resignations and complaints from authors when it went entirely open-access with high fees for authors. Similarly, the Oryx – the international Journal of Conservation is open-access and will waive APC for any authors who do not have funds. 

eLife says “A fee of $2,500* is collected for published research papers. However, authors with insufficient funding to pay the fee are eligible for a fee waiver.” It is mainly a biomed journal but includes Ecology and Evolutionary biology sections.

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (Institute of Paleobiology Polish Academy of Sciences) is open access and free to authors for papers less than 10 pages in length.

Due to a drop in revenue during the covid pandemic, the Journal of Threatened Taxa (a scientific community effort supported by several partners) has an to change to an author-pays model, but the costs are reasonable.

In addition, the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, ICES J. Marine Science, Science and sister journals, and Cell Press journals (Trends in Ecology and Evolution and Current Biology), are free to publish in and all papers become OA after a year. Marine Ecology Progress Series is free to publish in and all articles are open access after 5 years. Thus, it seems inadvisable to pay open-access fees to journals where the paper will become open-access at no cost.

The Proceedings of the (US) National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) are open access after 6 months but they charge over US$1,600 to publish in.

Please add any additional options in the Comments box below.

A searchable source for open-access journals is the Directory of Open Access Journals where I found 11 of the above journals on 14th April 2020.

Note that this open-access journal’s fees were covered by AWI but are not in 2020: Helgoland Marine Research (Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research).

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