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Can I Afford to Publish? A Dilemma for African Scholars
  • +8
  • Addisu Mekonnen,
  • Colleen Downs,
  • Edu Effiom,
  • Mohamed Kibaja,
  • Michael Lawes,
  • Patrick Omeja,
  • Fanomezana Ratsoavina,
  • Onja Razafindratsima,
  • Dipto Sarkar,
  • Nils Stenseth,
  • Colin Chapman
Addisu Mekonnen
Bahir Dar University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Colleen Downs
University of KwaZulu-Natal
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Edu Effiom
Cross River State Forestry Commission
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Mohamed Kibaja
University of Dar es Salaam
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Michael Lawes
University of KwaZulu-Natal
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Patrick Omeja
Makerere University Biological Field Station
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Fanomezana Ratsoavina
Université d’Antananarivo
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Onja Razafindratsima
University of California Berkeley
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Dipto Sarkar
Carleton University
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Nils Stenseth
University of Oslo
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Colin Chapman
Wilson Center
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Open-access publishing involves a business model where authors pay article processing charges, and subsequently, the article is freely available online. For African researchers, the shift to open access publishing flips the business model from a pay-wall model, where accessing literature is difficult, to a pay-to-play one, where it is difficult to publish. We explore costs of publishing in the 40 top ecology journals and the ability of African scholars to pay for open access. Three quarters of journals required payment for open-access publishing and the average cost was $3,150. Paying such fees would be a hardship for African scholars as grant funding is not available. Furthermore, it is not feasible for Africa scholars to pay the fees themselves as salaries are low. We encourage funders and publishers to facilitate a more equitable publishing realm where African scholars can see their research made available through open-access.