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?