More Unexpected Consequences: How the Plan S Transformative Journal Route Favors Larger Incumbent Publishers – The Scholarly Kitchen

“But once you read the Transformative Journal reporting requirements, you will realize that this route is likely impossible for journals other than those from larger and wealthier publishers. Once again, a well-intentioned policy has created further inequities in scholarly communication….

Transformative Journals (TJs) are one route offered by cOAlition S “to encourage publishers to transition to immediate Open Access.” Through this route, a subscription/hybrid journal can remain compliant and eligible for Plan S authors by committing to a transition to becoming fully-OA and meeting a set of OA growth requirements each year until 2024, when support for TJs ends and they are expected to fully convert over to OA. Let’s ignore for now the OA growth requirements for TJs – DeltaThink’s recent analysis covers this well and shows how unrealistic the numbers are and how few journals are likely to progress adequately given the timelines involved…

Instead, I want to focus on the reporting requirements for TJs. Tallying up the number of OA articles published each year is easy to accomplish. The transparent pricing reporting requirements remain vague and meaningless enough that they shouldn’t prove too onerous for even smaller publishers to put together. Where things get difficult, if not impossible, is in the requirement for an annual public report to cOAlition S, a report that must include data on downloads, citations, and Altmetric scores for all papers published, and that must be sub-divided into OA papers versus non-OA papers.

For those working at larger publishing houses, this likely sounds trivial. You’d just assign your team of in-house bibliometric analysts to pull citation data from your expensive Web of Science, Scopus, or Dimensions subscription. Download information can be obtained from the usage tracking service you pay for, or perhaps it’s included from the full-service publishing platform that your organization owns or that you employ each year at significant cost. Altmetric numbers can come from your access to the paid service of the same name. Your employee bibliometricians will, of course, spend the necessary time parsing out the OA articles from everything else.

Hopefully the theme running through that last paragraph was fairly obvious – none of this is free, much of it is very expensive, and in-house bibliometric expertise is rare among smaller publishers….”

Simba Information: Scientific & Technical Publishing Grew During Pandemic

“The report Global Scientific & Technical Publishing 2021-2025 found that total sales increased 0.4% to $10.5 billion in 2020. However, currency exchange fluctuations deflated growth. Simba Information estimates growth without the currency impact at 2.8%.

“The findings stand in stark contrast to forecasts of doom and gloom related to COVID-19’s impact and the move to open access,” said Dan Strempel, senior analyst of professional publishing at Simba Information. “Print books continue to fall, but that spending is migrating to e-books and other types of online content, databases and tools. Research spending and output, in terms of journal articles, both continued to grow.”

The number of articles published with funding from 33 key research organizations tracked by Simba Information grew 10.7% to 525,042 articles in 2020, according to information in the Crossref database.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China is the leading funder, backing 268,588 articles in 2020—a 9.2% increase from 245,966 in 2019. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is the No. 2 funder of articles with 71,951 in 2020, an 8% increase. The European Commission has a strong hold on the No. 3 position in the index, growing the number of articles funded by 18.6% as the Plan S open access mandate builds momentum. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Japan’s Science and Technology Agency both showed growth in articles funded in excess of 20% in 2020.

There have been more reports of university libraries canceling their journal subscription packages in 2020 and 2021, but most are still subscribing to individual journals based on usage/importance to the researchers and faculty. As individual institutions choose to purchase subscriptions a la carte, their total spend with the large commercial publishers is reduced, but the market leaders are replacing it with the growth of revenue from open access fees. Others are signing transformative agreements, which support the growth of open access.

Pure open access publishers MDPI, PLOS and eLife were also found to be publishing significant numbers of articles backed by the world largest research funding bodies. The European Commission funded 6,304 articles published by MDPI, 13.3% of all articles funded by the EC in 2020. MDPI also has a strong link to the National Research Foundation of Korea, which funded 2,829 articles published by MDPI in 2020 — 12.3% of all the articles funded by the foundation. PLOS and eLife are strongly linked to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, publishing 1,125 and 944 articles respectively in 2020 that were financially backed by that agency….”

Jisc negotiates transformative agreement with the National Academy of Sciences | Jisc

“Jisc and the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (NAS) are pleased to announce a two-year transformational open access (OA) pilot agreement.

The ‘Publish and Read’ deal will allow UK corresponding authors at participating institutions to publish OA articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) without incurring any publication charges. Researchers at participating Jisc institutions will be able to access all PNAS content, dating back to 1915, for free….”

The Pandemic Made Science More Accessible Than Ever. Let’s Keep It That Way. – Mother Jones

Ready or not, there is evidence the science world is already changing. Publishers who designed the paywalls are now vying to lead the open access race. (Inchcoombe told me that since 2015, Springer Nature has published “more [open access] articles than any other publisher,” while Elsevier told me in a statement that it is “the fastest-growing open-access publisher in the world.”) Meanwhile, their competition—journals that are strictly open-access—have skyrocketed in number over the past decade. And universities, like the UC system, are pursuing new, large-scale open-access agreements, including Iowa State, Carnegie Mellon, and the Big Ten, to ensure their research is freely available. “It’s a really rapid movement,” MacKie-Mason says. “There’s been more change in open access publishing in the last five years, I think it’s fair to say, than in the previous 25 years.” I say, let’s keep the momentum going.

Practical Idealism: UC’s Approach to Open Access

MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship at the University of California, Davis, provides the following commentary on UC’s recent transformative agreements with Elsevier and other publishers.

EIFL agreements result in increased OA publishing | EIFL

“The EIFL Licensing Programme has been negotiating open access agreements with publishers since 2016. These include waived and discounted Article Processing Charges (APCs), as well as free and discounted read & publish terms, and aim to increase the amount of open access publishing output. We currently have 11 agreements with publishers, six of which were signed in 2020. 

Many publishers have APC waiver and discount schemes for authors from developing and transition economy countries. However, publishers’ eligibility criteria can change unexpectedly; hybrid journals are usually excluded, and many researchers are not aware of these schemes as they are not always well publicized….”

Interview with Beth Bayley, Karger Publishers – DOAJ News Service

“A very important aspect of our strategy is to embrace, contribute to and promote Open Science, which naturally means a major emphasis on a sustainable transition to open access (OA). Besides ensuring that our policies and services support OA, we’re also working with institutions to innovate flexible Publish and Read agreements (a.k.a. transformative agreements), launching OA journals, flipping journals and adopting the Transformative Journal model for some journals….

Ideologically, OA seems like a no-brainer. In a perfect world, there would be no barriers to lifesaving and enhancing knowledge based on where, or under what circumstances, people are born. However, the challenges to making all high-quality research openly accessible—with all the essential tools to make it discoverable and useful, and everything else publishers do—are real. I think platinum OA, where there is no charge for reading or publishing, could go far to reduce inequity so I’m especially excited about our platinum OA journals, which we call Partner Publications. They help make sure organizations have a voice in the global conversation and remove barriers to readers and authors….”

IEEE and IReL Expand Access To Irish Technology Research with New Transformative Open Access Agreement

“IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, announced today that it has reached an open access read and publish agreement with IReL, the Irish licensing consortium.

The transformative read and publish agreement enables corresponding IReL authors to publish open access articles in IEEE’s industry-leading journals and provides reading access to over five million documents from the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. The agreement also makes it more convenient for authors to publish open access articles with IEEE as eligible authors pay no article processing charges (APCs): these costs are covered by IReL under the agreement….”

Negotiating Open Access Journal Agreements: An Academic Library Case Study | Hosoi | Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice

Abstract:  The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for academic libraries to advance open access (OA) to scholarly articles. Awareness among faculty on the importance of OA has increased significantly during the pandemic, as colleges and universities struggle financially and seek sustainable access to high-quality scholarly journals. Consortia have played an important role in establishing negotiation principles on OA journal agreements. While the number of OA agreements is increasing, case studies involving individual libraries are still limited. This paper reviews existing literature on publisher negotiation principles related to OA journal negotiations and reflects on recent cases at an academic library in Pennsylvania, in order to identify best practices in OA journal negotiations. It provides recommendations on roles, relationships, and processes, as well as essential terms of OA journal agreements. This study’s findings are most relevant to large academic libraries that are interested in negotiating with scholarly journal publishers independently or through consortia.


Springer Nature OA deal: approaching annual quota | University of Groningen Library | University of Groningen

“According to the agreement between Springer Nature and the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands), Dutch corresponding authors are allowed to publish up to 2,080 open access articles per year without additional article processing charges (APC).

We expect to reach the national annual quota of 2,080 publications in September/October 2021. This means that the deal will be suspended and UG/UMCG articles will no longer be eligible for the usual 100% discount on the open access fee. Depending on the outcome of the new round of negotiations with Springer Nature, Dutch corresponding authors may be able to use the new allocation of OA fee waivers as of 1 January 2022….

As per UG and UMCG regulations, closed access articles will be made open access via Pure, but only six months after publication and without an open license.

This is possible thanks to Article 25fa of the Dutch Copyright Act (also known as the Taverne amendment), which grants Dutch-affiliated researchers the right to make their short academic works open to the public for free after a short embargo period. Researchers don’t have to do anything themselves. The University of Groningen Library (UB) and the Central Medical Library (CMB) will take care of opening up all qualifying publications via Pure.”

Transformation or consolidation – Evaluating transformative agreements at Uppsala University with an eye to the future | Zenodo

In the last few years, we have seen how publishing agreements have become increasingly common across Europe. At Uppsala University, the traditional subscription agreements now represent a minority of our agreements with the publishers and we suspect they will be phased out. Currently, our most common type of publishing agreements are the transformative agreements negotiated on the national level by the Bibsam consortia and offered to all Swedish higher education institutions. These transformative agreements currently cover most major international publishers and could be considered the new normal. Uppsala University is one of the largest and oldest universities in northern Europe. We are a truly multidisciplinary university, covering the humanities, social sciences, medicine, science and technology. This means that the university library should ideally be able to provide the same level of publishing support for theologists as well as geologists. With that in mind, the library was tasked to evaluate our portfolio of publishing agreements, with a special focus on the impact of the transformative ones. We wanted specifically to look at these new agreements in regards to 1) the impact for the individual researchers 2) economic aspects on various levels, and 3) the paradigm shift towards open science that is taking place in scholarly communication.


“The 15th Berlin Open Access Conference (B15): Adapt and Advance, will be co-hosted by the University of California (UC) and Open Access 2020 Initiative (OA2020), and held virtually from September 28 to October 01, 2021. To facilitate global participation, the event will be offered twice: track 1 for the Americas, Australia and Oceania; and track 2 for Europe, Africa and Asia. To ensure B15 offers attendees ample opportunity to discuss, share and collaborate, participation will be limited to 200 people per track.

Similar to prior Berlin Conferences, B15 will assemble members of the global research community interested in furthering transformative open access frameworks, where publisher subscription agreements are transitioned into open access publishing models. B15 workshops and sessions will support both those who have already begun signing transformative agreements and those looking to build capacity in planning for negotiations. The conference will address key topics, including: …”

Delta Think OA News & Views

“This month we look at Transformative Journals (TJs). We examine what their measures of compliance mean and how the criteria for growing OA in TJs compares with the typical growth of OA in hybrid journals.

We have previously analyzed the proportions of papers that might be affected by Plan S, the European-led initiative “to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality.” Researchers funded under the initiative must publish via one of four routes, which lay down rules for allowed access types. One allowed route is a Transformative Journal.

Join us to learn more about Plan S definitions and scenario modeling of Transformative Journals….”

Transformative Journals – Delta Think

“This month we look at Transformative Journals (TJs). We examine what their measures of compliance mean and how the criteria for growing OA in TJs compares with the typical growth of OA in hybrid journals….

The data suggest that historically, the OA proportion of journals’ output has not grown as fast as TJ requirements require:

Over the last three years, the total number of papers published across all journals currently marked as TJs is growing at roughly half the rate needed for them to continue to enjoy TJ status.
The number of journals meeting TJ requirements of OA growth is small. Only a dozen or so (out of around 2,000) have met TJ targets for each of the last three years. However, around two thirds have met TJ targets for at least one year out of the last 3.

The data also showed that only 20 or so journals (less than 1%) had over 75% OA uptake, while two thirds (68%) had 20% OA uptake or less. Smaller journals show the fastest growth in OA. Most of the larger ones appear to be virtually static….

The data suggest that the OA growth criteria for TJ status are aggressive, but not impossible. The current crop of TJs are on average growing OA proportions at around half the pace needed to be in compliance. (The average growth in OA uptake of hybrid journals from major publishers follows broadly similar patterns.) Many journals have previously met TJ targets for one year or even two, suggesting the challenges lie in adding to existing momentum, rather than building OA uptake from scratch.


However, the biggest caveat is timing. Support for TJs is due to be withdrawn completely in 2024, but two thirds of current TJs have less than 20% OA uptake. So many could meet their TJ targets, but still have only around one third OA uptake in 2024. Publishers would then be faced with a tough choice: flip minority-OA journals to fully OA, risk at least one third of output as zero-embargo Green impacting subscriptions … or fall out of Plan S compliance completely and lose one third of their submissions.”