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Open access explained

Publishing models and deals

We are in a transitional stage between a subscription model of access and open access to research literature.

“Transformative agreements” attempt to shift our spending on scholarly resources away from a subscription model of access towards open access publishing. Other names for them are read-and-publish deals, publish-and-read deals or transitional agreements.

This page briefly explains the different models of publishing and access currently available.

Publication charges are paid

If we have a transformative deal with a publisher, then we have already paid to publish articles in their journal. You do not need to pay an article processing charge. This makes it much easier for you to make your work open access.

We have summarised our transformative deals to help you work out what publisher’s article costs are already paid for.

Reason for transformative deals

The goal is to move towards an open publishing default for scholarly literature. This means moving from paying to read articles to paying to publish articles. Transformative deals are a stepping stone towards this. They are to help subscription publishers adapt their business models and processes in an affordable way.

There is not a standard contract that competing publishers and all libraries agree to. We deal with some publishers through nationally negotiated or consortium contracts, other contracts are directly negotiated. Unfortunately, this means that what is available to read, and how many articles we can publish, differs with the details of each deal.

Every deal is different, but the principles are to shift towards pay-to-publish, to sustainably control and predict costs, and retain rights.

Control costs

We want to control costs by:

  • not paying a subscription to access journal articles to read, and also paying the same publisher to make articles open access
  • having some definition and control over the amount spent to pay for publishing articles, which is rising and currently unpredictable.

Retain copyright by default

Copyright can be retained by the author, rather than being transferred to the publisher. The author makes the article available via a creative commons licence, which ensures that it remains open access and is not affected by a deal being renegotiated or access being revoked by a publisher.

Different types of transformative deals

The Library manages article fees (APCs) on behalf of researchers through a set of different deals with publishers.


With a read-and-publish deal, the publisher is paid so that we can read their articles and publish articles in their journals.

Publishing costs are brought together in a single contract, which means authors don’t have to pay article processing charges (APCs) in an ad hoc manner when choosing to publish open access.

If a “cost-neutral” deal is agreed, then money we previously paid for subscriptions is effectively redirected towards publishing, whilst maintaining publisher’s income during the transition.


With a publish-and-read deal, we pay the publisher to publish articles with them, and access to articles is included in that cost.

The difference between read-and-publish and publish-and-read may seem esoteric, and probably won’t make a difference to an individual researcher or library. The difference is more evident with consortia deals. With read-and-publish, all libraries in a consortia bear the costs of reading, whereas with publish-and-read, the libraries from institutions with actively publishing researchers may bear more of the costs of publishing.

Drawbacks of transitional agreements

There are numerous and various differences in the deals from publishers, which makes it challenging to manage and not as transparent as we would like for researchers.

For example, some agreements include all of the publisher’s journal titles, others only a subset. Some agreements include a publisher’s hybrid and fully open access journals, others only subscribed (pay-to-read) titles. Some arrangements are even more complicated, where a transformative agreement covers a subset of titles, with a supplemental agreement for other titles.

There are also differences in how payments to publish open access are structured. For example, some have a set budget that individual APCs are taken from on a first-come-first-served basis. Others allow unlimited publishing.

Deals are often for one year only, which means the terms can change.

If you have any questions about a particular publisher agreement, please contact us.