Transformative agreements: Do they pave the way to open access?

Authors : Ángel Borrego, Lluís Anglada, Ernest Abadal

Transformative agreements, also known as ‘offsetting’, ‘read and publish’, or ‘publish and read’ agreements, have shifted the focus of scholarly journal licensing from cost containment towards open access publication.

An analysis of 36 full‐text transformative agreements recorded in the ESAC registry shows that ‘transformative agreement’ is an umbrella term that encompasses different kinds of contracts. We differentiate between pre‐transformative, partially transformative, and fully transformative agreements.

Pre‐transformative agreements are traditional subscription licences that grant article processing charge (APC) discounts or vouchers for open access publication of a limited number of articles. Partially transformative agreements differentiate between a read fee and a publish fee to cover the processing charges of a certain number of articles.

Fully transformative agreements allow unlimited open access publication of the scholarly output of the subscribing institution. In all three categories, some agreements restrict open access publication to hybrid journals, whereas others allow publication in both hybrid and gold journals.

Transformative agreements are more transparent than traditional journal licences, allow authors to retain copyright, and make provisions to facilitate the management of open access workflows.

It is hard to assess whether these agreements are just a temporary phase in the transition towards open access or will perpetuate the current structure of the scholarly communication system and its associated high costs.

URL : Transformative agreements: Do they pave the way to open access?


Who’s writing open access (OA) articles? Characteristics of OA authors at Ph.D.-granting institutions in the United States

Authors : Anthony J. Olejniczak, Molly J. Wilson

The open access (OA) publication movement aims to present research literature to the public at no cost and with no restrictions.

While the democratization of access to scholarly literature is a primary focus of the movement, it remains unclear whether OA has uniformly democratized the corpus of freely available research, or whether authors who choose to publish in OA venues represent a particular subset of scholars—those with access to resources enabling them to afford article processing charges (APCs).

We investigated the number of OA articles with article processing charges (APC OA) authored by 182,320 scholars with known demographic and institutional characteristics at American research universities across 11 broad fields of study.

The results show, in general, that the likelihood for a scholar to author an APC OA article increases with male gender, employment at a prestigious institution (AAU member universities), association with a STEM discipline, greater federal research funding, and more advanced career stage (i.e., higher professorial rank).

Participation in APC OA publishing appears to be skewed toward scholars with greater access to resources and job security.


Transitioning to Open Access: An Evaluation of the UK Springer Compact Agreement Pilot 2016–2018

Authors : Mafalda Marques, Graham Stone

This article analyzes the UK’s first “read and publish” journals agreement. The Springer Compact Agreement pilot ran from 2016 to 2018. The authors outline the methodology and data sources used to undertake a detailed analysis of the agreement.

This includes the number of open access articles published, the number of author opt-outs and rejected articles. Institutional savings (or cost avoidance), and the financial implications resulting from the number of opt-outs and rejected articles are also discussed.

The value of articles published and cost per download for non-OA content are also covered. The agreement, at the consortia level, has constrained the total cost of publication—during the three years, the HE sector has avoided paying additional costs of €20,000,800 ($22,761,688) for publishing OA by paying the single combined fee that capped publication costs at 2014 rates.

All institutions taking part in the Springer Compact agreement published OA articles equivalent to or in excess of their total 2014 APC spend between 2016 and 2018. By 2018, 30 percent of institutions published OA articles to the value of or in excess of the combined fee paid to Springer. The article concludes with a number of recommendations for future agreements and considers compliance with Plan S guidelines.


Stony Brook University Author Perspectives on Article Processing Charges

Authors : Victoria Pilato, Clara Y. Tran


The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of Stony Brook University (SBU) author perspectives on article processing charges (APCs). Publishing an article without restrictions, also known as open access publishing, can be a costly endeavor.

Many publishers charge APCs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars to publish an article without access restrictions. Authors who cannot obtain funding from grant agencies or their institution must pay APCs on their own. Do APCs fundamentally impact how authors choose their preferred publication venues?


A cross-sectional survey was designed to learn SBU author perspectives on, and concerns about, APCs.


Responses mainly came from the sciences. Many SBU authors preferred to publish in a prestigious journal or journal of their choice rather than in an open access journal.

Most authors published their articles in open access journals even if they were required to pay APCs. Many authors found that it was difficult finding funding for APCs and some expressed their concerns about the double charging practice. DISCUSSION SBU authors might believe that publishing in established and prestigious journals could secure their career’s advancement. Authors who chose to pay open access journals with APCs might be following publishing criteria.

Libraries can encourage authors to negotiate with publishers to obtain a discount or waiver of APCs, when possible. Institutions should negotiate shifting journal subscription costs toward hybrid open access publishing.


Data will be used to inform how the SBU Libraries can help authors locate funding opportunities for APCs.

URL : Stony Brook University Author Perspectives on Article Processing Charges


The growth of open access publishing in geochemistry

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Jonathan P. Tennant, Andrew Hursthouse, Eric D. van Hullebusch

In this communication, we look at Open Access (OA) publishing practices in geochemistry.

We examine a list of 56 journals and assess whether Article Processing Charges (APCs) and Journal Impact Factors (JIFs) appear to influence publication or not. More than 40% of articles in 2018-2019 were published OA, and about 70% of that portion in fully OA journals.

These had a mean APC of US$ 900, whereas the remaining were published in hybrid journals with a higher mean APC of more than $US 1,800. A moderate and positive correlation is found between the number of OA articles published in hybrids journals and their JIF, whereas there is a stronger positive relationship between the number of OA articles published in fully OA journals and the APC.

For OA articles published in hybrid journals, it seems that the proportion of OA articles tends to increase in journals with higher JIF.


Open access publishers: The new players

Authors : Rosângela Schwarz Rodrigues, Ernest Abadal, Breno Kricheldorf Hermes de Araújo

The essential role of journals as registries of scientific activity in all areas of knowledge justifies concern about their ownership and type of access. The purpose of this research is to analyze the main characteristics of publishers with journals that have received the DOAJ Seal.

The specific objectives are a) to identify publishers and journals registered with the DOAJ Seal; b) to characterize those publishers; and c) to analyze their article processing fees.

The research method involved the use of the DOAJ database, the Seal option and the following indicators: publisher, title, country, number of articles, knowledge area, article processing charges in USD, time for publication in weeks, and year of indexing in DOAJ.

The results reveal a fast-rising oligopoly, dominated by Springer with 35% of the titles and PLOS with more than 20% of the articles.

We’ve identified three models of expansion: a) a few titles with hundreds of articles; b) a high number of titles with a mix of big and small journals; and c) a high number of titles with medium-size journals.

We identify a high number of titles without APCs (27%) in all areas while medicine was found to be the most expensive area.

Commercial publishers clearly exercise control over the scope of journals and the creation of new titles, according to the interests of their companies, which are not necessarily the same as those of the scientific community or of society in general.

URL : Open access publishers: The new players


État des lieux sur les accords transformants – 31 mars 2020

Auteur/Author : Irini Paltani-Sargologos

Les accords dits « transformants », également appelés « négociations couplées abonnement / “APC” » (en anglais transformative arrangements, transformative agreements, journal agreements ou offsetting models) désignent un type particulier de négociation avec les éditeurs commerciaux.

Cette note présente le contexte d’émergence des accords “transformants”, définit leurs caractéristiques principales et dresse un état des lieux des accords “transformants” signés dans le monde.

Les risques associés aux accords dits transformants ainsi qu’un retour d’expérience au Royaume-Uni sont évoqués. Cet état des lieux se termine par la présentation de deux exemples d’accords réellement “transformants” dans le système de l’édition scientifique.

URL : État des lieux sur les accords transformants – 31 mars 2020

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