Why are some article downloads free and others not?

All article downloads – including those from years not covered by subscriptions – are free for private subscribers to the Elemente. For all other users, articles can be downloaded free of charge if they are in an open-access category or have reached incremental open access. This applies sooner or later to all articles in the Elemente.

What is incremental open access?

Incremental open access is a model that we have developed to enable us to offer our articles as open access content without charging the authors an article processing charge (APC) for publication. How does it work?

The Elemente der Naturwissenschaft does not have any commercial aims, but must fund itself from income. We have calculated our expenses based on the average number of articles which appear per year. Instead of invoicing this amount to authors as an article processing charge, we cover it incrementally through income from subscriptions to the print medium (which is likewise calculated per article) and the income from downloads of this article. Every paid download therefore contributes to covering the costs of this particular article. As soon as the costs of an article are covered, the article in questions becomes available to all free of charge as open access content. At the time of publication, articles are not initially open access content but become so by means of the incremental funding of the associated costs.

Incremental open access therefore works in a similar way to crowd-funding: the funding goal is the open access contribution which is met by the combination of many small contributions from the scientific community. Once the costs are successfully covered, the article changes to open access.

It is important to us to keep the incremental contributions to the open access contribution of an article low. This method of funding also ensures that the costs to the scientific community cannot be higher than those arising from a comparable article processing charge for a traditional open access journal.

Open access categories in the Elemente

The journal has eight categories of which four categories consist of smaller articles which have the character of commentaries or reviews. These are discussions of newly published books, Obituaries, Commentaries and contributions in the Research Review category, which aim to evaluate new scientific results and developments and to place these in a wider context. There is open access to this material as soon as it is published. It can be downloaded from the journal's website free of charge.

Green route to open access – Authors' self-archiving

The Elemente allows authors to self-archive their articles both as pre-print and post-print, irrespective of the category in which they have been published and without an embargo. We thus support what is known as the green route to open access.