Page Charges at A&A…


It was recently drawn to my attention that UK-based astronomers and astrophysicists now have to pay a charge of €100 per page (!) to publish in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics (usually known as A&A for short). See their page charges information for details.

Contrary to popular belief, A&A only waives page charges for authors from countries who are sponsors of A&A, not all countries who are members of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) project. Although the United Kingdom is a member of ESO, it is not and never has been a sponsor of A&A: see the list of sponsoring countries and their representatives here .

Until recently, however, UK authors did have their page charges waived on what seems to have been an ex gratia basis. For some reason, that exception has now apparently been removed.

UPDATE 1: It should have occurred to me that that this also applies to authors from Ireland.

UPDATE 2: Apparently the liability for page charges is determined by the nationality of the first author. I had previously thought that if any of the authors belonged to a sponsoring country then charges would be waived.

Meanwhile, the Open Journal of Astrophysics publishes entirely for free and we are committed to continuing that way. You know what to do.

19 Responses to “Page Charges at A&A…”

  1. telescoper Says:

    Your comment makes it clear that it is not a question of the OJA ‘wanting to exclude some of the community’ but your decision to exclude yourself.

    OJA has no power to compel arXiv to accept submissions, nor would we want to. We see arXiv as the most important resource in Astrophysics and OJA is merely an overlay on top of arXiv.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      One may hope that the culture will change so that people submit to arXiv simultaneously with submission to a journal. The more ventures like OJA that succeed, the more this will happen. It is a matter for the individual how to proceed with any particular paper.

    • telescoper Says:

      I think many people submit to arXiv for the simple reason that the arXiv is where things are read.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      We are in the early stages of a much needed transition and, although online is clearly the future (and honour to those working to further it), the new norm in the finer details is yet to emerge.

  2. Rob Ivison Says:

    I’d never thought of ESO as a project. Doesn’t seem quite the right word for an organisation with such longevity, and with responsibility for VLT(I), ALMA (in partnership), ELT, etc.

    As surprised as you to hear about A&A page charges for UK astronomers.

    • telescoper Says:

      Couldn’t think of a better word at the time! Organisation?

    • telescoper Says:

      MNRAS has introduced by page charges for papers longer than 25 pages..

    • Dave Carter Says:


      “an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.”

      I think ESO meets this definition very well. And its not a negative, I don’t know why describing something as a project should be seen as a negative. Maybe it comes from the fact that the same word is also used to describe something very different in the USA.

  3. John Peacock Says:

    While I can understand Philip Helbig’s approach, I think it is now a minority attitude, and becoming rarer. I too used to post things only after acceptance, as a kind of backup to the journal, but now I see the journals as a backup to arXiv, which is the primary form of communication. Consequently in most cases I now post to arXiv and submit to a journal at the same time. The virtue in doing so is that, since your first posting is all that most people will ever read, there is an extra incentive to get things right first time – so you go the extra mile on small details where once you might have thought “well, let’s leave this till the referee has had their say”. Also, since so much refereeing is sufficiently poor that it just adds noise to the paper, I like the idea of there being a “director’s cut” version of the paper as I intended it to be.

    • Of all the papers I’ve been on — and that’s quite a lot — I’d say about 10% have been submitted to arxiv on submission, and the rest have waited to acceptance. And my students, postdocs and junior colleagues are still holding off till acceptance on the whole. There is a real difference in cultures in different parts of the community, which doesn’t seem to be recognised by everyone.

      • telescoper Says:

        In my experience it seems that theorists are more likely to go the former route than observers.

  4. John Peacock Says:

    The “first author determines page charges” rule will be interesting when it comes to consortium papers. The Planck papers were alphabetical, as will be the Flagship Euclid papers. So if Dr Aardvark turns out to be a Brit, will A&A really charge full whack for all the Euclid papers?

    • telescoper Says:

      I must admit I always thought the rule was that the waiver applied if any of the authors were from sponsoring countries…

      But then I have never published in A&A so wouldn’t really care.

  5. Shantanu Says:

    Dear Philip,
    I agree with Peter and John. Many people submit to Arxiv first to get feedback from arxiv readers. OJA is tailor-made for such people. Also I am told that people like Ed Witten and Maldacena only post on arXiv. Also I have seen shoddy refereeing for many papers, which were posted after acceptance and then the authors refused to make any changes pointing out that the papers are already accepted.

  6. John Peacock Says:

    Peter. Further on your initial news, the page you link to giving the “new” policy dates from 2004. Is there anything more recent than this, or did your informant perhaps not read the date? I had a 2019 A&A paper led by an Edinburgh student and we didn’t have to pay page charges, so any change in policy would have to be quite recent.

    • telescoper Says:

      I was contacted in the last week by three different authors (two in UK, one in Ireland) saying that the policy has changed, which is why I wrote the post.

      I’ve never published in A&A so wouldn’t know directly about previous practice. It’s just possible the date of May 2004 given on that webpage is incorrect though. Perhaps it’s May 4th 2020 not May 2004?

  7. I have now decided to stop reviewing for A&A

  8. […] arXiv (after all, the purpose of a journal is publication); alas, the Open Journal of Astrophysics does not plan to pursue that at all: “OJA has no power to compel arXiv to accept submissions, nor would we want to. We see arXiv […]

  9. […] arXiv (after all, the purpose of a journal is publication); alas, the Open Journal of Astrophysics does not plan to pursue that at all: “OJA has no power to compel arXiv to accept submissions, nor would we want to. We see arXiv as […]

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