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Transformative Open Access Publisher Agreements

Information and guidance on publisher waivers for Tulane authors' open access article publishing fees

Publishing Open Access

Tulane University Libraries has negotiated transformative open access agreements with at least five major scholarly journal publishers to waive article publication charges for Tulane authors who want their articles to be publically available.

This is important because new White House Office of Science and Technology Policy guidelines call for the results of federally funded research to be freely available without paywalls. The guidelines follow the launch of Plan S with support from the European Commission and the European Research Council in 2018, earlier White House open access guidelines in 2013, an open access mandate from the NIH in 2008, and government funding for open access publishing agreements in the EU, UK, and several Asian countries.

In December 2022, the Tulane University Libraries signed a transformative open access agreement with Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of scholarly journals in the world, publishing more than 2,600 titles. The agreement is among the first of its kind between Elsevier and an independent U.S. library negotiating outside of a large consortium and comes just weeks after our announcement of a similar arrangement with the global publisher Wiley (nearly 2,000 titles). Both agreements took effect on January 1, 2023. Another of the publishers is Cambridge University Press, through which the library pays for subscription access to around 400 journals spread across science, engineering, medicine, social science, and humanities disciplines. Another is the American Chemical Society (ACS), through which the library subscribes to around 65 journals focused on chemistry and related fields. The fourth is PLOS (Public Library of Science) and this agreement covers all 12 PLOS journals. PLOS is a nonprofit, highly-regarded open-access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.

Open access (OA) is shaping the future of scholarly publishing, and one aspect of this is the growing number of opportunities for authors to publish open-access articles in high-quality journals maintained by traditional scholarly publishers. Gold open access allows free public access to an article in its final published form (version of record), even in journals subsidized by the high subscription costs paid by libraries. This allows the results of scholarly research to spread more rapidly compared to publications behind a paywall. However, authors also pay article publication fees that publishers charge for the expanded open access.

Transformative agreements are new alternatives to the traditional subscription model that address this problem.  With these agreements, the publisher bundles library subscription and article publication costs so that one offsets the other. See the explanation below for more details. 

Some of these agreements require the library, on behalf of the university, to approve article publishing charge waivers through administrative software, including one third-party tool called Rightslink that the Copyright Clearance Center manages. However, for Tulane authors, the waiver process should be relatively seamless and incorporated into the article submittal process at the journal end, where the authors would be identified as Tulane affiliates. In approving a waiver, the library will simply be confirming the author’s university affiliation and eligibility.

Andy Corrigan
Associate Dean of Libraries

Transformative Agreements Explained

Transformative agreements shift the payment from a library or group of libraries to a publisher away from a subscription-based model and towards open access publishing.  In North American, they typically come in two types:

A Publish + Read agreement is an agreement in which the publisher receives payment only for publishing and reading in the form of open access is included for no additional cost.  (Payment is the library's subscription cost. )

A Read + Publish agreement is an agreement in which the publisher receives payment for reading in the form of open access and payment for publishing bundled into a single contract.  This typically includes a fee tacked onto the library's subscription cost. 

Information Contacts

Raquel Horlick

Coordinator for Scholarly Resources - Sciences and Engineering  

Courtney Kearney

Director of Scholarly Engagement                                            


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