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Transformative Agreements

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


Further reading:


Library's Role

The Library’s Role:

The library 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.