Journals are generally divided into two domains: subscription and independent. Subscription-based journals are affiliated with major publishing companies that handle distribution, printing, and maintenance overheads. Accessing these papers for reading requires a yearly subscription to the journal that covers these costs. Therefore, publishing in these journals will be without a publishing fee. Subscription-based journals also often have an open access option tied with a fee should authors wish to make their paper publicly available.
In contrast, independent journals are independent, not-for-profit entities that handle their own overheads and publish their content as open access to the public. As a result, publishing open access papers in independent journals comes with a publishing fee. For example, for journals under the Wiley Online Library umbrella, the publishing fee can be up to US$3000 per paper. Typically, the university or research institute will cover publication fees from the research project budget or from miscellaneous funds. Once your paper is accepted by a journal, the journal will provide options on how to cover these costs.
Practical example for Life Sciences
Within the life sciences, open access is becoming increasingly popular due to demands for reproducible research, transparent data and results, and more accessibly knowledge transfer. Most journals will offer an open access option for authors. Independent journals that are strictly open access are also becoming more common and popular. These journals are typically specialised journals on a subfield of research. For example, the independent journal Movement Ecology publishes papers on experimental and theoretical approaches to the movement of organisms; publishing fees for this journal are US$2145. Independent journals will sometimes also waive publishing fees for authors originating in low-income countries.