Last updated May 2021 - Wiley Agreement expected to be limited to UKRI/Wellcome funded authors only from July 1st - the 25% discount code for hybrid journals is KA6CA.

Transformative Agreements

The COVID-19, Ebola and Zika crises have underscored the need for open science in recent years. Amongst other things, they have highlighted that changes to scholarly publishing infrastructures have not been happening at an adequate pace, due to publishers who have been unwilling to shift away from subscription-based business models. Transformative Agreements respond to a need to accelerate a transition to the immediate open access of research. Such agreements (also referred to as Read and Publish deals and transitional agreements) are contracts negotiated between institutions (libraries, national and regional consortia, through Jisc Collections) and publishers that transform the business model underlying scholarly journal publishing, moving from one based on toll access (subscription) to one in which publishers are remunerated a fair price for their open access publishing services. Their aim is to create necessary preconditions for systemic change in scholarly communication.

Plan S

“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”

Transformative Agreements arose in response to Plan S, a policy announced in September 2018 by a group of research funding organisations (cOAlition S), which aims to expedite the transition to full and immediate OA to research publications and challenges publishers to move away from the hybrid (subscription) business model. Plan S seeks develop a better understanding of the publishing landscape and the options available to researchers to share their research findings immediately and openly. The group behind Plan S, cOAlition S, commissioned an independent report that seeks to contribute to this understanding. They also keep an official blog, the sOApbox, concerning initiatives and opinions relating to the implementation of the plan.

Although many RVC researchers are not funded by cOAlition S organisations, the effects of Plan S will be increasingly discernible because more publishers will offer Transformative Agreements to institutions, and these are often more cost effective to sign up to than to pay costs for gold open access and subscription deals separately. These deals are occasionally called transitional agreements because publishers behind them commit to moving towards publishing only fully open access journals. The initial date for publishers to change their business models by ‘flipping’ to immediate open access only was at the end of 2024, according to the first Plan S announcement, though cOAlition S have now said that only funding for transformative agreements will end on this date – they have compiled some FAQs.

Rights Retention Strategy

To support academics in retaining their rights, cOAlition S have developed the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS). They recently held a seminar on this topic, which gives a useful breakdown of the aims and practicalities of the initiative:

Plan S Rights Retention Strategy - myth busting online event:

Wellcome funded researchers are now required to include the following wording in the manuscripts they submit to journals, in order to protect their intellectual rights:

“This research was funded in whole or in part by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) version arising from this submission.”

Stephen Eglen, Professor of Computational Neuroscience at Cambridge University provides excellent commentary on RRS developments, and has developed a Primer on the Rights Retention Strategy. Adopting this language and supporting this initiative will help make more work immediately accessible to all, including in the event funds are not available to pay for gold open access, so it is crucial for the RVC. Further background on the development of this policy can also be found in cOAlition S's letter to publishers, sent last year, and signed by many ECR's in response to some of their identified practices.

RVC’s Transformative Agreements

The RVC has joined the following Transformative Agreements to facilitate the shift of scholarly research to immediate open access. Agreements offered by other publishers will be kept in review and this list will be kept up to date (other new models, such as PLOS's Flat Fee model will also be assessed).

Transformative Agreements mean that authors can make their work gold open access through our agreements with publishers, which cover both subscription to the content of journals and the cost associated with gold open access publishing.


The sector's negotiations for an open access agreement with Elsevier commenced in March 2021, as reported in the Financial Times. The negotiations are led by the sector and facilitated by Jisc. In these negotiations, universities on behalf of their researchers and students have two core objectives: to reduce costs to levels they can sustain and to provide full and immediate open access to UK research. The University of California negotiated a successful agreement by establishing a cohesive approach across faculty and Jisc are keen to hear the opinions of researchers who will be effected by negotiations. Please do get in touch to be put in contact with Jisc and updated by them, to ensure agreements take into account your priorities. Read more about the negotiations and why they matter.

Video overview: Jisc and Elsevier negotiations

Our Wiley agreement for 2021 has restarted, and will be open to authors regardless of funding until July 1st.

Jisc and Wiley estimate that we will need to introduce restrictions on Jisc Accounts to limit OA publishing to UKRI/Wellcome funded articles at the end of June 2021.

  • The Transformative Agreement draws upon national funds which were depleted in Autumn 2020 and are due to be restricted in July  2021, at which point a 25% discount will be available with the code KA6CA – for guidance when planning on submitting articles  contact Advice at this stage will depend on whether:

(a) journals permit green open access, (Wiley call these OnlineOpen Journals/hybrid) or
(b) journals are fully open access (gold), and therefore listed in DOAJ (payment of costs associated with these are confirmed by Wiley at the point of submission- they call these Open Access Journals).

May 2021 Update:

From July, authors will be routed to Wiley's ‘author pays’ option, where they will be offered a 25% discount, which will be valid from July 1st– Dec 31st 2021. 

· Authors will need to take action when prompted in the payment form at submission for fully Gold OA journals and after acceptance in Author Services for Wiley’s hybrid journals.
· For gold journals, authors need to select ‘UK/Jisc authors (25% discount)’ from the drop-down menu.
· For hybrid journals authors need to add the discount promo code: KA6CA - please share this with your authors/researchers. You will need to provide this to authors to ensure that they are aware and can claim their 25% discount when publishing in Wiley’s hybrid journals.

Jisc's white paper 'Monitoring the transition to open access: Jisc-Wiley transitional agreement' is available to read here, supplemented by a blog post.

 The Microbiology Society

  • Our Publish and Read deal with the Microbiology Society includes the following journals, where gold open access costs for RVC authors have been pre-paid:

o Microbiology, Journal of General Virology, Journal of Medical Microbiology, Microbial Genomics, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology and Access Microbiology

  • Where a corresponding author has an RVC email address, the Microbiology Society will ask the author to sign a CC BY Creative Commons licence and will publish their article gold open access.
  • Details of the 'author journey' have been provided by the Society here, for reference.

The Company of Biologists

  • We have a Read & Publish deal with The Company of Biologists, giving researchers the opportunity to publish Open Access research articles in: Development, Journal of Cell Science and Journal of Experimental Biology without charge.
  • This is available for corresponding authors at the RVC, who can follow this step by step guide - the agreement enables immediate, fee-free publishing of Open Access research articles by corresponding authors in three subscription journals with CC-BY licence terms.
  • As a not-for-profit publisher, The Company of Biologists uses its surplus income for the benefit of biology and the biological community, offering grants that support and encourage the sharing of knowledge throughout the community by facilitating international collaboration, event attendance and the organisation of scientific meetings, conferences and workshops.

Diamond Open Access

In addition to utilising these Transformative Agreements, researchers can also publish their work with immediate open access for free in a variety of journals known as 'diamond journals'. These can be browsed and assessed for suitability on the Directory of Open Access Journals, using the filter 'Without article processing charges (APCs)'. For journals to be listed in DOAJ, they must register and meet particular criteria relating to open access. 

Predatory Journals

To help decide appropriate journals for your work, the site Think. Check. Submit provides a range of useful resources, such as check lists. Predatory journals continue to be a challenge to be mindful of and work is ongoing to develop a Journal Authenticator tool. Some advice for researchers may be found here.

Other RVC Plans & Open Access Memberships

Royal Society Open Access Membership

RVC authors are entitled to a 25% on the cost of gold open access for publishing in any Royal Society journals, via our Open Access Membership (OAM):

  • Biology Letters. (offers Open Choice)
  • Interface Focus. (offers Open Choice)
  • Journal of the Royal Society Interface. (offers Open Choice)
  • Notes and Records of the Royal Society. (offers Open Choice)
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and 
  • Engineering Sciences. (offers Open Choice)
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (offers Open Choice)
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and 
  • Engineering Sciences. (offers Open Choice)
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (offers Open Choice)
  • Open Biology (a wholly Open Access Journal)
  • Royal Society Open Science (a wholly Open Access Journal)

Do get in touch if you would like guidance making use of this.

Peer J

PeerJ funding is available from our institutional plan to pay for Basic Memberships. All authors on a paper must have a membership (which lasts 12 months) for a single APC charge to be waived. Please claim for your membership on this page when your article has been accepted for publication and complete the email verification: The FAQ on paid memberships and APCs is helpful:

Please direct any queries relating to these topics to

Tools for Accessing Open Access Research


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