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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 more than a half dozen 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 world's largest publishers of scholarly journals, 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 these agreements is with 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.

New for 2024 is a transformative open-access agreement with Springer Nature. The agreement effectively waives the article publication charges for Tulane primary authors who want their articles to be published as open access or publicly available in more than 2,040 Springer and Palgrave McMillan journals. It took effect on January 1, 2024. The Libraries also recently signed a new transformative open-access agreement with Oxford University Press, the details of which will be announced soon.

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, 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 have also had to pay article publication fees that publishers charge for the expanded open access. Some of these fees are very high, sometimes in the range of $5,000 or more.

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 is usually 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.

PLoS Journal Article Publication Charges No Longer Waived. In 2020, Tulane University Libraries joined in a two-year, multi-library initiative aimed at supporting PLoS fully open access journals, including six new ones, and organized through the Center for Research Libraries. About a dozen Tulane authors took advantage of the article fee waivers that came from our support. The expense level for continuing to support the program as a single institution into 2024 was more than the Libraries could sustain, and the fee waivers that came from our support have expired.  

Meanwhile, we have continued to leverage our subscription arrangements with additional established publishers to pursue more transformative agreements that focus on opening up published articles for broader public access.

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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