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Transformative Agreements in Publishing

About: Transformative Agreements in Publishing

What Is a Transformative Agreement (TA)?

A Transformative Agreement (TA) is a set of terms negotiated in a license between a publisher and a library, library system/consortia, or national organization, which is fundamentally designed to shift costs away from subscription-based reading and toward open access publishing. While there is a long road ahead, a TA is transitional in that the purpose is to eventually shift costs to publishing and eliminate subscription-based reading access to scholarly research.

A TA is "Read and Publish" when... the publisher receives payment for BOTH subscription-based reading and publishing costs in a single contract. A library will aim for an unchanged or decreased total cost when compared with the prior read-only agreement.

A TA is "Publish and Read" when... the publisher receives payment for publishing only, and reading is included at no additional charge. This is perhaps more beneficial to library systems/consortia.

Common terms included in a TA:

  • Open Access option - Includes OA journals and the author's choice of publishing their work open or closed
  • Copyright - Most TAs require that the author retain copyright control, and publish with a CC BY Creative Commons License (or the most flexible sharing license permitted by the researcher's funding requirements)
  • Transparency - Terms of the agreement are typically made available to the public
  • Article processing charges (APCs) - Paid partially or in full by the institution, rather than the author

Other terms which may vary by TA:

  • Eligible journals - Whether the agreement applies to partial or full publisher portfolio; whether gold open access or hybrid journals are eligible
  • Length of contract period
  • Publishing limits - Does the library's payment apply to publishing charges ala carte, to a limited number of articles, or without limits

TAs are not new, but they are growing in popularity as more and more publishers and libraries are finding ways to negotiate mutually sustainable agreements. Scroll down to learn how a TA serves the mission statement of your library, or skip ahead, using the navigation tabs in this guide to find more information about author benefits, current TAs at Eugene McDermott Library, and useful tools for assessing the quality of scholarly journals.

Further reading:

The Library's Role

Exterior of McDermott Library

The Library’s Role

The library proactively supports transformative agreements with publishers when the agreement is financially viable and provides the faculty with comprehensive open publishing options.

Transformative agreements also foster community stewardship through open access and a shift away from paid subscriptions that place published research articles behind paywalls. In addition, these agreements help faculty who have research grants which may require the publication of research in an open-access journal.

To support these goals, McDermott Library is only signing agreements that provide the following:

  • Unlimited faculty author publications
  • No Article Processing Charges (APC) for faculty who publish in a journal that is part of the transformative agreement

The University of Texas System may at times also provide transformative agreements that cap the number of articles published per year without a charge. If known, we will note any caps that are part of UT System agreements.

In addition, the UT System may negotiate a reduction in APC charges for some publishers. These savings will be passed along to UTD faculty; however, the McDermott Library cannot provide financial support in addition to what is offered as part of the UT System agreements. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of the corresponding author.

We encourage faculty to consider publishing in a journal free of APC charges, whenever possible, to help advance transformative agreements and encourage other publishers to adopt a similar model.

Library Contacts

The following librarians are available to answer your questions about transformative agreements and scholarly communication:

  • Davin Pate, Assistant Director of Scholarly Communications and Collections // 972-883-2908

  • Matt Young, Assistant Head of Collections // 972-883-2627

Relevant Guides