cluded from publishing because they
can adjust their PWYW payments to
their available means.
For publishers, PWYW achieves endogenous price discrimination and
higher market penetration because no
author is excluded by APCs that he cannot afford. This can be especially important for the introduction of a new
scientific journal. Furthermore, PW Y W
can initiate a debate about funding
and affordability of APCs and might increase the acceptance of open access
APCs in the scientific community. The
obvious risk, however, is free riding of
authors who do have the funds to pay
for APCs but choose to pay nothing or
only very little. A more specific concern
in the context of open access is that
some authors may be fundamentally
convinced that research articles should
be “free” to both readers and authors
instead of just “open” and for this reason refuse a voluntary payment.
Some insights on the performance
of PWYW for open access APCs at the
individual level are provided by initial
data from the peer-reviewed journal
The Surgery Journal launched by
Thieme Publishers in June of 2015 that
exclusively uses PWYW pricing. At this
peer-reviewed journal, authors are
prompted after acceptance of their article to state the APCs.
After an article is accepted authors
are directed randomly to one of two
they are not forced to do so, empirical
research on PWYW consistently finds
that many buyers pay positive prices, of-
ten exceeding the marginal costs of the
product (for example, Gneezy et al5). In
the case of open access publishing, au-
thors may be willing to voluntarily pay
APCs for reasons of fairness and reci-
procity—because they want to com-
pensate the publisher for his costs or to
reciprocate his generosity, as well as
for strategic considerations, that is, be-
cause authors understand the journal
will not be sustainable if the produc-
tion costs are not covered.
more, with their payment authors may
signal to others (and potentially to
themselves) the value they attach to
6 At the same time,
authors with limited funds are not ex-
With their payment
signal to others
the value they attach
to their publication.
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Distribution of PWYW payments according to payment form.
The box indicates the lower and upper quartile and the line within depicts the median
of the payments. The whiskers extend to include all data points within the 1. 5 interquartile
range (IQR) of the upper/lower quartile and stop at the largest/smallest such value.
State Payment Specify Discount