Answered By: Monique Ritchie
Last Updated: 14 Dec, 2021     Views: 11

Open access costs are increasingly included as part of Transformative Agreements. Transformative Agreements are negotiated for the UK higher education sector by Jisc, and only these are recognised by funders as Transformative as they must meet certain requirements.

What is a Transformative Agreement?

There are several types of Transformative Agreement, which include Read and Publish deals.

These typically cover publishers which offer a hybrid model of paywalled content only available to read on  subscription, alongside fully open access content for which a fee has been paid to publish. 

This is important as funders, including UKRI, Wellcome Trust, EU and other Plan S organisations, mandate that research findings arising from their funding may only be published under a hybrid model where these are part of an approved Transformative Agreement. In the UK, a Transformative Agreement must have been negotiated by Jisc to meet the funder and sector requirements for a transformative deal. 

This is due to their concerns about the impact of delayed access to publicly funded research and about the sustainability of costs associated with reading and publishing. 

Many, but not all, popular publishers have negotiated agreements with Jisc, or are in the process of doing so. So if a preferred publisher does not offer a Transformative Agreement yet, it may do so in future.

How does a Transformative Agreement work? 

This varies by deal and publisher, although deals are negotiated based on common principles. Some agreements may limit read or publish access to some titles in a publisher's portfolio. Others may require additional fees to publish over and above publisher capped quotas on articles, or in titles which are excluded from deals.

Institutions are unable to subscribe to all available deals as a deal is generally value for money where it is expected that there will be substantial reading and publishing activity. 

Some options may only meet funder and University open access compliance requirements if authors have taken rights retention steps upon manuscript submission. Non-compliant articles will not be eligible to access open access publishing funds and some funders may apply sanctions.

Are fees charged to publish under a Transformative Agreement?

For some Transformative Agreements, eligible authors may generally be able to publish under a transformative deal without publishing fees, as these will often be offset against the subscription package or prepayment plan in some way. However, this isn't always the case, as individual terms vary by journal or publisher. Also, not all subscription packages or prepaid plans meet the requirements for an approved Transformative Agreement.

The number of articles that may be published under a deal may be capped based on quotas set by the publisher as part of the agreement. In those cases, there may be facilities offered for a discounted publishing cost for additional publishing outside the terms of the Agreement. The Open Access team can advise if this is the case. 

Some options may only meet funder and University open access compliance requirements if authors have taken rights retention steps upon manuscript submission. 

What if there are no compliant Transformative options available or rights retention is indicated?
Get in touch with Open Access for advice, ideally before you submit, as if you have already submitted, and have not followed the necessary steps, it may be very difficult to comply with any funder and Brunel requirements, and your article may be ineligible to have any fees paid by the University or funder. 

If you will be publishing in a closed access (paywalled) route, because your selected journal does not yet have a transformative deal in place, you should apply rights retention wording on submission to ensure that you retain the rights to make your accepted manuscript immediately available under a CC BY licence in the institutional repository, BURA, as soon as it is first published online. 

If you have not applied rights retention wording to your submission, your publisher does not have to agree to rights retention later on, and you will no longer hold sufficient rights to negotiate. Your article may not comply with requirements as a result. 

If this applies to you, don't panic, ask Open Access for advice. As universities, funders and publishers are transitioning to the new open access requirements, exceptions may apply. 

How do I check whether a journal is Transformative?

You can check whether your journal is a fully open access (CC-BY) option (no subscriptions), or offers a transformative publishing option that complies with open access requirements based on the corresponding author's affiliation and funding status for your article. Follow the advice on our Plan S and publishing your research web page linked below and use the Journal Checker Tool before you submit. 

Transformative Agreements are transitional arrangements and temporary, so it's important to check compliance status before every submission, as articles may not comply if an agreement expires and new terms are not agreed, or where the University cancels a subscription and loses access to compliant publishing options.


Where can I find more information about Transformative Agreements available to me?

Publishing under a Transformative Agreements is available only to eligible corresponding authors currently employed at the institution. 

See the links below for information about current Transformative Agreements available to UK institutions to take up - see Jisc -Our role in open access.

The ESAC Transformative Agreement Registry is an international list of Transformative Agreements available to authors by country. It also includes all available UK Jisc agreements and underpins the Journal Checker Tool.  

Use the Journal Checker Tool linked from the Plan S and publishing your research web page to check the Transformative Agreements available to Brunel corresponding authors by relevant funder - choosing UKRI as the funder if there is no grant funding, but you are eligible for REF.

To view various publishing options available to authors at the University, which include transformative and prepaid options, visit the How to apply for Gold open access publishing funds in the links below.