Independent report and transformative agreement toolkit launched to support Learned Society publishers transition to immediate Open Access and align with Plan S

Independent report and transformative agreement toolkit launched to support Learned Society publishers transition to immediate Open Access and align with Plan S

Press Release | 12 September 2019

The report and toolkit are designed to help support learned society publishers to accelerate their transition to Open Access (OA), and enter into transformative agreements that unlock a multi-year transitional pathway compliant with Plan S for hybrid OA titles. Plan S, an initiative of international funders and charitable foundations called cOAlition S, seeks to move to a world where all research findings are made immediately available to all.

This work was funded by Wellcome Trust and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – two UK members of cOAlition S – working in partnership with the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). It is part of a range of activity that cOAlition S partners are taking forward to support the implementation of Plan S principles. An independent study and report were commissioned in response to concerns of learned society publishers reliant on the hybrid OA publishing model and worried about the uneven availability of funding to pay for OA Article Processing Charges.

Alicia Wise and Lorraine Estelle at Information Power documented 27 business models and strategies that can be deployed by publishers to transition successfully to OA.  Only three of these rely on author payments to fund article publishing.

Transformative agreements, including Subscribe to Open pioneered by Annual Reviews, emerged as the most promising. Also very useful are APC models if authors are funded and willing to pay such charges, immediate sharing of accepted manuscripts or final articles under a CC-BY license, cooperation, cost savings, and revenue diversification.

A toolkit developed as part of this project is also launched today. The toolkit forms a resource for learned societies (and other small and medium publishers) wanting to explore transformative agreements. It is being actively piloted in ongoing negotiations between publishers and library consortia. The toolkit contains templates that stakeholders can use to negotiate and execute transformative agreements. We encourage stakeholders to amend and adapt the templates to reflect aspects of their particular agreements and to suit local conditions.

Transformative agreements repurpose existing institutional spend with publishers to open content. They are promising transition models because libraries and library consortia provide the lion’s share of funding in the current publishing landscape. If this revenue stream is transformed to support OA, then journals can also transform to be fully OA. Institutional and consortial agreements are easier to administer than hundreds or thousands of author payments and provide an attractive predictable flow of revenue. They are also helpful models for publishers to use to align with Plan S because hybrid journals within transformative agreements are one of the Plan S compliant options and give more time in which to transition to full and immediate OA.

Malavika Legge, Director of Publishing at the Biochemical Society, said “Learned societies play a vital role in supporting researchers and contributing to a vibrant research ecosystem. We are keen to transition to OA but in order to do so must find sustainable approaches and business models. It is terrific that the Wellcome Trust, UKRI, and ALPSP – via the team at Information Power – have enabled independent society publishers to assess their options and gain rapid first-hand experience of working with library consortia on transformative agreements. In addition to transformative offers in two global regions that have been enabled on the basis of this toolkit, we have also invited current subscribers to take up a pilot transformative-renewal supporting OA publishing for 2020, and are hoping to see positive support from institutions across the world.”

Project outputs are available under a CC-BY licence on the ALPSP website and at

About cOAlition S

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

About Wellcome Trust

Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation.

About UKRI

UK Research and Innovation is a body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UKRI brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.


The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) is an international membership trade body that supports and represents not-for-profit organizations and institutions that publish scholarly and professional content.  With over 300 members in 30 countries, membership also includes those that work with these publishers. Our mission is to connect, inform, develop and represent the international scholarly and professional publishing community.

About Information Power

Information Power Ltd is a consultancy service in the research information space. The team works with funders, libraries, consortia, publishers, agents, vendors, and universities to advance learning, research, and scholarly communication. It specialises in supporting organisations in their transition to Open Access.