Open access (OA) transformative deals in the US

Cross-functional partnerships and custom approaches

Campus, The Oval, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Publishing open access (OA) boosts the impact, reach, and readership of trusted knowledge globally.

Sharing knowledge through open research drives human progress both within and beyond the field of research – from informing policymakers to supporting innovation in product development, and encouraging the public to take an evidence-based approach to key issues.

Policymakers recognize these benefits and have created a policy landscape that has accelerated a transition to OA, a transition which began in Europe and is increasingly being adopted in the United States.

One of the key drivers of this transition is Transformative Agreements (TAs) between publishers and institutions. TAs aim to help institutions transition to an OA future by enabling more researchers to publish OA and increase their research impact. Taylor & Francis offers institutions flexible, custom-made open access packages that best support individual budgets and priorities, while maximizing the visibility and impact of research.

Transformative agreement case studies focused on the US

Earlier this year, we were very pleased to be asked to contribute a Communications on Practice piece to Library Resources & Technical Services journal, a publication of Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, which is affiliated with the American Library Association. Rachel Scott, Editor of the journal and the Associate Dean for Information Assets at Illinois State University, collaborated on a piece on TAs at that institution with our very own Joseph Lerro, Business Development Manager, Taylor & Francis.

In addition, this issue features a case study written by The Ohio State University librarians about their first three-year Read & Publish pilot with Taylor & Francis, and an article written by Montana State librarians that mentions their experiences with a Taylor & Francis Read & Publish agreement. We pulled out some of the key points in these articles to share these important insights and sum up what was learned.

One goal, many pathways

The editorial for this special issue "Open Access: One Goal, Many Pathways" by Rachel E. Scott and Michael Fernandez, sets the stage for the conversations and case studies that follow. They write: "The articles in this issue do not suggest a single path forward or even necessarily a standard set of steps – the diversity of institutional contexts, goals, and needs would not support that."

"Instead, authors make compelling cases to collect and review data, take small steps forward when a more comprehensive approach is not possible, leverage existing workflows and infrastructures to support open access, and, given its alignment with professional values, advocate for openness."

These "steps forward" are described in detail by Joseph Lerro and Rachel Scott in their article "Partners in Progress: Publishers and Librarians Support Open Access Publishing."

OA agreements: as unique as the communities they serve

Lerro and Scott explain: "Open access agreements are created based on local needs, with the input of a variety of stakeholders, and require flexibility on the part of the publisher and institutional client. Open access agreements represent a partnership, and ideally one that furthers the goals of both parties."

Lerro documented how Taylor & Francis created a unique agreement that fits into the budget and specific objectives of Illinois State University: "During our discussion, all parties learned that a full-scale read and publish agreement would require an initial publishing investment beyond the library’s capabilities. We looked at an alternative model that focuses on increased access and publishing support for specific subject areas."

He continued: "This customized approach was in line with the library’s budget, and addressed the immediate objective of providing more access to specific content areas while providing the opportunity to support OA publishing of underfunded research in those same areas."

This customized approach worked well for Illinois State University – so well that their Office of Research took notice and provided funding to expand support. Scott tells the story: "Rather than assuming an OA agreement would be impossible and pursuing additional individual title subscriptions or activating the content with "Get It Now," we worked with Joe and his team on an agreement that would secure access to the education journals while maintaining our current subscriptions."

A focus on HSS provides an OA solution

Rachel Scott: "Many faculty at ISU have confirmed that they either have no or limited funding, and certainly not enough to support OA publishing. Additionally, publishers with portfolios focused primarily or exclusively on sciences – such as the Association for Computing Machinery, the Company
of Biologists, the Institute of Physics, and the Microbiology Society, among others – have more proactively promoted transformative or other OA Agreements."

Scott continued: "Milner’s (ISU University library) agreement with Taylor & Francis demonstrates to the university community our support for research, and in HSS areas in which scholars often have less grant funding and the awards are smaller. In fact, with the exception of the College of Business, faculty and students across all university colleges have published their work open access under the agreement with Taylor & Francis. ISU’s Office of Research was so pleased by the explicit support for HSS – a goal of that unit – that they provided funding to expand support for the agreement."

Openings through a modern library

New models provide solutions for OA in the US

In the article "Exploring a Read and Publish Agreement: The Three-Year Taylor & Francis Pilot," Maureen P. Walsh, Gene R. Springs, and Anita K. Foster of The Ohio State University Libraries provide an overview of the agreement (the first one for Taylor & Francis in the Americas), the lessons that were learned, and the open access publishing outcomes of the pilot agreement.

The group describes how they decided to approach Taylor & Francis: "In 2018 and early 2019, we explored the scholarly publishing landscape. This period was a pivotal moment in time for open access in the United States. Blogs, listservs, news items, and national meetings served as our main sources for current information. At the time, the paucity of published literature available on transformative agreements focused on European deals." And, "without a national consortium in the United States, (they realized that they) would need to look elsewhere, including research university, statewide, and system consortia, as well as individual institutions, for new models to effect change toward a large-scale transition to open access."

The team presents a short history of OA in North America, explaining how new open access business models were disrupting the subscription journal marketplace. In 2019: "Big [subscription] Deals were breaking up, new open access publishing agreements were signed across the globe at an increasingly rapid pace, funders pushed for open access to the research they funded, and high-stakes negotiations stalled or failed. It was in this atmosphere that we stood up a new strategic initiative and proposed our first read and publish agreement."

Without a national consortium in the United States, however, we would need to look elsewhere, including research university, statewide, and system consortia, as well as individual institutions, for new models to effect change toward a large-scale transition to open access.
Maureen P. Walsh, Gene R. Springs, and Anita K. Foster of The Ohio State University

An ideal agreement

Walsh, Springs and Foster explain how they came to choose Taylor & Francis. "Articles in Taylor & Francis journals were among the highest requested through University Libraries’ interlibrary loan, and subject librarians frequently requested new subscriptions to Taylor & Francis journals."

They continued: "The electronic resources officer had previously engaged with our Taylor & Francis sales representative about deepening the portfolio of journal content at University Libraries. In meetings about extending access to content, they discussed other initiatives underway at Taylor & Francis, including new forays into open access publishing. The electronic resources officer and the collections strategist, who had been working on the charter of the TSPE (Transforming the Scholarly Publishing Economy) strategic initiative with the scholarly sharing strategist around this same time, recognized there may be an opportunity for both Taylor & Francis and the university. For The Ohio State University, it could be a chance to explore how a diverse subject publisher’s open access program might work for campus authors, and for Taylor & Francis it could be a chance to experiment with their existing open access programs and explore adaptation for the United States market."

In the end, The Ohio State University was able to successfully develop, negotiate, implement, and assess "a transformative agreement, the first of its kind in the Americas for Taylor & Francis." They were able to negotiate "a single agreement inclusive of both reading and publishing components ... greatly expand(ing) (their) access to Taylor & Francis journals, meeting evolving research and learning needs of (their) constituents." The read and publish deal "enabled the publication of 346 open access articles at no expense to (their) authors, waiving a total of $1,057,370 of list price APCs."

The percentage of Taylor & Francis articles published OA at The Ohio State University went from 1.1% of articles in 2015, to 53% in 2022.



Not OA

Total accepted

OA %









































Table 1: Taylor & Francis OA articles by accepted date, 2015–2022. Used by permission.

Line chart that shows increase in percentage of articles that were OA after the agreement

Figure 1: Percentage of Taylor & Francis articles OA by accepted date 2015-2022

Figure 1: Percentage of Taylor & Francis articles OA by accepted date 2015-2022

TA best practices for librarians in the US

Shifting the mindset

In "Shifting the Collection Development Mindset: Moving from Traditional Journal Subscriptions to Transformative Agreements" authored by Rachelle McLain, Collection Development Librarian and Hannah McKelvey, Electronic Resources and Discovery Services Librarian, both with Montana State University share their "perspectives of transformative agreements and share the hurdles and wins they have had along the way, to help others decide if these types of agreements make sense to implement at their own libraries."

This article could be used as a handy how-to guide, as the authors discussed best-practices for librarians, such as: "There are several workflows for libraries to consider in the very early stages of TA negotiations, such as identifying staff responsible for managing approvals or denials of funding requests and viewing multiple publisher demos to be sure they understand the process of both the author and library", and "the librarians negotiating these agreements must be familiar with APCs."

McLain and McKelvey also maintain that "librarians must understand the value of TAs, explain that value, and incorporate it into their decisionmaking processes. Before TAs, when making decisions, usage data and cost-per-use were the prominent metrics used in collection assessment. As libraries shift their funds toward TAs, 'tools are needed to provide underlying analytics both at the negotiating level [and] also for the ongoing implementation of new agreements'."

Promoting benefits is key

Librarians are not the only team members who need to be aware of the benefits of Transformative Agreements, but the authors advise that "it is critical they promote the benefits to their library colleagues and to faculty across all departments."

They continue: "It is important that libraries do their part to communicate the availability of OA publishing assistance as much as possible. At the MSU Library, there is a dedicated page on the library website that includes detailed information about each TA."

The authors list all of the publishers with whom they have made Transformative Agreements, starting with Cambridge University Press (CUP) in 2020. They cite the 2019 Charleston Conference as having had some influence, Iowa State University presented information about their transformative agreements during that Charleston Conference and also "many conference sessions covered TAs." They mention that implementing the first read and publish agreement at the MSU Library with CUP "was seamless and easy to set up."

This positive experience with CUP led to many more transformative agreements, and "the MSU Library now has seven active TAs in place with the following publishers: Cambridge University Press (CUP, 2020), Company of Biologists (COB, 2020), IOP Publishing (IOP, 2022), Rockefeller University Press (RUP, 2022), Royal Society of Publishing (RSP, 2021), Taylor & Francis (T&F, 2022), and Wiley (2023)."

Promotion and education around these agreements is a tool that can be used to educate both potential researchers and the larger University community, and McLain and McKelvey took particular note that "a director of communications from Taylor & Francis" was involved in the process. Taylor & Francis "asked several questions about MSU, asked for quotes from both the CD and ERDS librarians and from the library dean, and asked for a picture of the MSU campus for their own press release." The (Taylor & Francis) crafted press release was included in the MSU News Service release." You can find that press release here.

Surprisingly, small details, such as a savvy Communications team or well-crafted press release from a publisher can make a big difference to a library that is navigating this new world of Open Access and Transformative Agreements, and it's wonderful to see that Taylor & Francis' efforts here made such a positive impact!

Are you a University based in the United States? Learn more about transformative agreements here.