PLOS Publication Fee Assistance

PLOS believes that lack of funds should not be a barrier to Open Access publication. Since its inception, PLOS has provided direct fee assistance. The new Publication Fee Assistance program is intended for authors who demonstrate financial need.

PLOS Publication Fee Assistance (PFA)

  • An author’s application for PFA will be made upon article submission with disposition usually within 10 business days (previously, authors requested fee assistance at the time of article acceptance and invoicing). PLOS considers applications on a case-by-case basis.
  • PLOS expects authors to exhaust all alternative funding sources before applying for PFA.
  • The application form includes questions on the availability of alternative funding sources such as the authors’ or co-authors’ institution, institutional library, government agencies, research funders and co-author funding.
  • Funding disclosure information provided by authors will be used as part of the PFA application review.
  • Information about an applicant’s application for fee assistance will not be disclosed to journal editors or reviewers. PLOS publication decisions will continue to be based solely on editorial criteria.
  • In addition to PLOS, funding sources are available from organizations including institutions, research centers, foundations, government agencies and authors themselves. Visit Open Access funds for examples of fee support for which authors may be eligible. To confirm amounts and details of funding and eligibility, contact the organization as indicated.

PLOS Publication Fee Assistance (FAQ)


1. How do I apply?

Complete the PFA application, which is part of the manuscript submission process.

The application includes questions on the availability of alternative funding sources such as authors’ institution, funders, foundations and government agencies or from self-funding.

2. When do I apply?

You must submit the application at article submission. The Publication Fee Assistance program launched at 9:00 a.m. PDT on April 22, 2014.

If the submission process has already begun for a full manuscript prior to this time, then a full or partial fee waiver request should be made at invoicing which follows the pre-existing waiver request process.

3. How quickly will a disposition be made?

PLOS will make a disposition usually within 10 business days of receiving an application.

4. Will PFA reduce my chance of being published?

It will not. Information about an applicant’s application for fee assistance will not be disclosed to journal editors or reviewers. PLOS’ publication decisions will continue to be based solely on editorial criteria.

5. How can I prepare for completing the PFA application?

The PFA program is intended for authors who demonstrate financial need. The application includes questions on alternative funding sources such as authors’ institution, funders, foundations and government agencies or from self-funding.

Authors can be prepared by investigating all available alternative funding sources prior to applying for PFA. Here is a link of example Open Access funds. To confirm amounts and details of funding and eligibility, contact the organization as indicated.

6. What is the purpose of the application?

The purpose of the PFA application is to identify those with demonstrated need due to lack of alternative sources of support, such as from their institution, funders, foundations and government agencies or from self-funding.

The application includes questions on the availability of alternative funding sources for which authors may be eligible.

7. Can I withdraw my manuscripts if I do not receive the desired assistance?

Yes, manuscripts may be withdrawn when notified of the PFA decision by sending an email to PFA@plos.org.

8. How can I find out about additional funding sources that are available?

More institutions, funders, foundations and government agencies than ever before have come together to cover author publication fees. For example:

  • Some funders allow publication fees to be included as line items on a grant
  • Some institutional libraries offer Open Access funds (Special note to UK authors – certain institutions will restrict payment to cover for Wellcome Trust and RCUK research grant recipients only.)
  • Some deans and/or department heads, or a co-author’s grant, may have discretionary funds available for Open Access publishing, or publishing in general
  • European researchers may be able to access article processing grants from research funders, available via the institutional library. Examples include: Research Councils UK (RCUK), German Research Foundation (DFG) and The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)

Since its inception, PLOS has assisted institutions in providing financial support for their researchers and provided individual support programs as listed below. Authors may be eligible for fee support: click the chart below for information. To confirm amounts and details of funding and eligibility, contact the organization as indicated.


9. What happened to the PLOS “no questions asked” fee waiver?

PLOS has not had a “no questions asked” fee waiver since 2010. More institutions, funders, foundations and government agencies than ever before have come together to cover author publication fees. Up-to-date information is provided on the PLOS website at Open Access funds.

The PFA program encourages authors to become more aware of and make full use of all available alternative funding sources. It ensures that PFA is allocated to authors with a demonstrated need. For additional examples of fee support for which authors may be eligible, click on the links below. To confirm amounts and details of funding and eligibility, contact the organization as indicated.

10. Do PFA funds come from PLOS’ surplus?

PLOS is a nonprofit organization that reinvests its surplus to broaden the adoption of Open Access and accelerate the impact of scientific knowledge. PLOS builds up reserves to enable new investments in the PLOS mission and to provide a buffer against unforeseen eventualities.

In 2012, PLOS provided a total of $3.8 million in individual fee support to its authors, which was paid from the operating budget. The PLOS PFA program helps ensure financial assistance goes to authors with demonstrated need. Additional information on PLOS activities, investments and financials is available in the yearly Progress Update.

11. Will PLOS decline some PLOS PFA applications?

In some cases, similar to other publishers, yes. The PLOS PFA program is intended for authors who demonstrate financial need. PLOS expects authors to exhaust all alternative funding sources before applying for PLOS PFA.