We have a new tool available that allows you to search for journals that are included in publisher open access agreements for Imperial College London-affiliated corresponding authors. You can search by journal title, ISSN, or enter a keyword and be provided with a list of journal titles containing that word.
The search tool allows users to see whether titles are included in agreements that fully cover the open access fee, offer a discount, or whether they are not covered but you can apply to the Imperial Open Access Fund (see the three examples below). Each of these icons links to instructions or further information for the relevant option.
The results also give the default open access license for the journal, and whether it is a fully open access journal, or hybrid (a subscription journal offering an open access option).
Also featured are links to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and an embedded version of the Plan S Journal Checker Tool (JCT). Journals listed in DOAJ are eligible for the Imperial Open Access Fund, so if your chosen journal is not part of a publisher agreement, but is listed in DOAJ, you should apply to the Imperial Fund. (Eligibility also requires that you have no access to alternative funding for open access, and that the paper is a research article). The Plan S JCT allows authors with UKRI or Wellcome Trust funding to check their options for meeting their funder’s open access requirements. Contact the open access team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any help interpreting the search results.
If you want to feed back on whether this search tool was helpful, or access a link to book a one-to-one training session with the open access team, you can use the chat icon at the bottom right of the page. You can also book a training session via our website, or email us at email@example.com
As was highlighted by Imperial’s Director of Library Services Chris Banks in her blog post earlier in this International Open Access Week 2022, the past few years have seen a rapid increase in the number of publisher agreements that Imperial College has signed up to. We now have 33 agreements in place that allow for open access (OA) fees to be fully covered for corresponding authors affiliated with imperial College London at no further cost.
This has unsurprisingly led to a significant increase in the number of papers being made OA through such agreements. The below graph shows the number of papers covered over the last year via four of the most used Read & Publish agreements that we currently have:
This adds up to almost 1000 OA papers from these four agreements alone, which does not include the figures from other publishers we have agreements with such as SAGE, Oxford University Press, Taylor & Francis, and Cambridge University Press.
A shift away from individual APC payments?
As was predicted in an earlier blog post from OA Week 2020, the number of papers now being covered through publisher agreements has now overtaken the number of individual Article Processing Charges (APCs) that we pay for from the OA funds that we administer. For the period from 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2022 we paid for a total of 759 APCs, compared to well over 1000 covered through the agreements.
While we have only seen a slight drop in the total number of individual APCs paid for compared to last year, the most significant change has been an ongoing reduction in the number of APCs we have paid for papers in hybrid journals specifically (i.e. subscription journals that have an OA option) as shown in the below graph:
This reduction in individual payments for APCs in hybrid journals should not be attributed to the increase in publisher agreements alone, as changes to funder policies in recent years have also introduced tighter restrictions on hybrid APC payments, and have offered authors alternative routes to compliance via the green OA route through rights retention. However, it is certainly one of the main reasons behind this shift and is a desired outcome in the transition away from a publishing model that allowed for ‘double-dipping’.
Imperial Open Access Fund
As most publisher agreements do not require authors to be funded, they have allowed many papers to be made OA via the gold route that would otherwise not have been eligible. As well as our funder OA block grants, we are also fortunate to be able to offer our authors the Imperial Open Access Fund. This is available for those without alternative funds available, and can be used to pay APCs for original research papers in fully OA journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.
Although some of our publisher agreements do cover fully OA as well as hybrid journals (e.g. Wiley’s), most of them do not, and there are many publishers who exclusively offer fully OA journals with compulsory APCs. This means the Imperial OA Fund continues to have a big part to play in enabling our authors to publish OA and covered 363 APCs in the last year (nearly half of the total amount):
UK higher education institutions along with Jisc are currently in negotiation for a new “read and publish” agreement (also referred to as “transitional” or “transformative” agreements) with the publisher Springer Nature. Our current agreement runs to the end of December 2022 and we are seeking a new agreement that will not only enable us to read the journals covered by the deal, but also enables researchers to publish open access in those journals at no additional cost.
Aid compliance with funder open access requirements
Be transparent, fair, and reasonable
Deliver improvements in service, workflows, and discovery
We achieved these aims with last year’s negotiations with Elsevier and are seeking to do so with Springer Nature. In addition to seeking a renewal of the existing Springer Compact agreement which has been running since 2016, we are also seeking to include Nature research journals and Palgrave journals.
If you are reading this and wondering what a “transitional” agreement is, my colleague David Phillips wrote about these in an earlier blog. At the time David noted that we had 11 such agreements in place at Imperial. This has now risen to 33 with fully covered publishing costs plus further agreements which include discounted article processing charges (APCs). Back in 2019, only 9% of sector spend enabled full OA publishing. That figure is now over 80%.
Why are the negotiations criteria important for researchers?
It is worth taking a moment to reflect on the sector criteria and what they mean for academic authors:
Reduce and constrain costs
To be sustainable, the costs of reading and publishing cannot continue rising more than that of inflation. Back at the turn of the century, under 44% of Imperial’s Library Services budget was spent on content. Today it is closer to 60% and further increases are simply not sustainable either for Imperial or for the sector. Our most recent Jisc negotiations went some way to stem the rise and we need the agreement with Springer Nature to similarly deliver. To illustrate the impact of increasing content prices, the chart below shows the breakdown of expenditure on staff, operations, and content costs.
Aid compliance with funder open access requirements
One of the questions that libraries frequently get asked is what should authors do to both ensure they meet funder obligations, and that their research outputs are eligible for the Research Excellence Framework – the REF. Our agreement with Springer Nature needs to enable both, affordably.
Be transparent, fair, and reasonable
As researchers you have secured the grant funding, you have assembled the team, drawn up the protocols, undertaken the research, undertaken the analysis and written up the findings. You then undertake the peer review. All of the above without payment from the publisher. You may also act as editors for journals, often on a voluntary basis with no compensation. Libraries then pay the publisher for publishing and content provision services. We need those payments to be transparent, fair and reasonable, reflecting the contribution researchers already make to the system.
Deliver improvements in service, workflows, and discovery
We are in a transition from paying for content to paying for publishing services on behalf of researchers. It is really important that those services are efficient for all parties otherwise we simply introduce additional administrative costs into the system. For authors, time spent battling a clunky submissions system or an unclear or conflicting publishing contract, especially processes which involve back and forth with libraries, are taking time away from your research activities as well as adding to admin burdens.
It is of course vital that research is discoverable for it to be built on and to have impact.
“It is the intention that the UK higher education funding bodies will consider a UKRI open access compliant publication to meet any future national research assessment open access policy without additional action from the author and/or institution”
To be sure that your research output both meets funder requirements and is eligible for the next REF, we advise that you insert the following Rights Assertion Statement on all submitted articles (not just Springer Nature):
“For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a ‘Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising”
This year’s theme seeks to encourage connection and collaboration among the climate movement and the international open community. Sharing knowledge is a human right, and tackling the climate crisis requires the rapid exchange of knowledge across geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries.
12 Month Highlights
At Imperial College London, we provide advice and guidance on an ever more rapidly changing open access landscape. The last 12 months have seen:
the successful results of our REF 2021 submission. A significant proportion of published research was made available on open access as a result of the 2018 REF OA policy to deposit the manuscript within 3 months of acceptance into a repository.
the start of a new NIHR open access policy from 1 April 2022 which requires immediate open access, without any embargo under, an open licence which applies to peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022
for published research that is funded by UKRI, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, and Horizon Europe a new Rights Retention Statement requirement on submissions “For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising”
the increase to 33 of new publisher agreements and discounts, many of which cover open access fees in full for Imperial corresponding authors. This includes a three-year agreement with Elsevier the largest publisher of Imperial research
the Library’s support for several publishing initiatives within Jisc’s open access community framework (OACF) 2022-24 which aims to provide financial support for innovative open access content models
our first ever training session for all researchers new to Imperial covering open access and research data management (RDM)
This theme aligns with the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, which was released in draft in May, and will be put forward for adoption by UNESCO’s General Conference in November. Since it is the first global standard-setting framework on Open Science, it presents an important opportunity to build equity into the foundations of new policies.
Here at Imperial, we continue to provide advice and guidance on an ever more rapidly changing open access landscape. The last 12 months have seen:
the announcement of a new UKRI open access policy (to apply to peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022, and monograph, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024. More information will be available in the coming months),
In 2018 a group of funders and national research agencies launched Plan S, an initiative with the central aim that by January 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.” Implicit in this goal is the intention of funders to move away from supporting the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing, whereby journals offer a paid open access (OA) option for authors to make their paper freely available upon publication but continue to charge a subscription fee for the rest of their content.
As with many other institutions, at Imperial we are recipients of block grants from certain funders, which authors acknowledging support from those funders can use to pay for individual Article Processing Charges (APCs) in both fully OA and hybrid journals. Although we have already introduced some restrictions on when we will pay for hybrid APCs, due to limited funds, with funders increasingly adopting the Plan S Principles authors may be concerned that they will soon be completely prevented from choosing OA publishing options in hybrid journals.
This is where Plan S Principle 8 comes in, which states that “…as a transitional pathway towards full Open Access within a clearly defined timeframe, and only as part of transformative arrangements, Funders may contribute to financially supporting such arrangements”. So, while Plan S funders will no longer support the payment of individual APCs to hybrid journals, institutions are able to redirect OA funds to pay for arrangements with publishers to transition away from the hybrid model towards being fully OA (until the end of 2024).
Read & Publish agreements
There are several types of transformative arrangements, but perhaps the most common are Read & Publish agreements. Instead of institutions (generally via their libraries) paying separately for subscriptions and OA fees for the same journals (aka ‘double-dipping’), Read & Publish agreements combine the costs. This provides those affiliated with the institution access to journal content that is still paywalled, as well as allowing authors to choose the OA option for their publications at no further cost.
As more of the content in hybrid journals becomes free for all to read in the transition to becoming fully OA, the proportion paid for the ‘Read’ part of the deal will decrease, and the proportion paid for the ‘Publish’ part will increase accordingly. While these kinds of arrangements precede the announcement of Plan S, their uptake has undeniably been accelerated by the initiative. Prior to 2020 Imperial had signed up to one Read & Publish agreement (with Springer in 2016), but we now have 11 In place, all negotiated by Jisc for Imperial and other institutions.
Read & Publish agreements can offer an alternative route for authors to publish their work OA in cases where we would normally not be able to provide funding for an APC. Unlike our OA block grants from funders, which only authors acknowledging the relevant funding can use, these agreements can be made available to all Imperial staff and students (usually with the requirement that they are the corresponding author). The process should generally be much quicker and easier for authors, as they do not need to request an invoice or make a separate payment for an APC, and publishers have also been encouraged to improve the workflows and dashboards used by authors and the staff who administer the agreements within institutions.
Not a panacea
However, it can be argued that such agreements do not solve all of the problems that are present in the existing hybrid OA model. To the authors that are eligible for these agreements it may feel that they are getting free and unlimited OA for their work, but there are still high costs involved to sign up for the deals in the first place, and often there are limits on how many papers can be made OA in a year. This has recently been seen with the restrictions introduced to the Wiley agreement, whereby only authors supported by certain funders are currently eligible for inclusion in the agreement due to high levels of demand.
During an OA Week with a theme of “Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion”, it is also important to highlight that such agreements can be seen as perpetuating global inequalities in access to OA publishing, as is argued by Jefferson Pooley on the LSE Impact Blog. A transition away from the hybrid model towards journals being fully OA should benefit everyone wanting to access the outputs of research as a reader. Nevertheless, it is only those authors who are affiliated with institutions wealthy enough to pay for the agreements (predominantly research intensive and in the global North) who are in a position to directly benefit from the OA publishing aspect.
Others who wish to publish OA will continue needing to find alternative routes, such as applying for APC waivers, submitting to OA journals that do not charge APCs, or self-archiving. This is not to say that these other routes are not valid – the option to self-archive (aka ‘green’ OA) is also a key part of the Plan S principles – but for those authors who do not have ready access to APC funds or publisher agreements there is understandably a sense of inequality.
A shift in gold OA at Imperial?
At Imperial we are fortunate to be able to offer our authors a range of different ways to make their research outputs OA, via both the green and gold routes. While the majority of our time (and money) in the gold section of the OA Team is still spent on paying individual APC payments from the funds that we administer (totalling 853 payments from 1 Oct 2019 – 30 Sep 2020), an increasing number of articles are now being made OA through our aforementioned Read & Publish agreements.
The graph above shows the numbers of papers made OA via our four most used agreements (with Springer, Wiley, the Royal Society of Chemistry and SAGE) totalling 567 papers between 1 Oct 2019 – 30 Sep 2020. We also have agreements in place with the Company of Biologists, European Respiratory Society, IOP, IWA, Microbiology Society, Portland Press and Thieme. As previously mentioned, only the Springer agreement was in place prior to 2020, and we are in the process of signing more agreements. We would therefore expect the figures for next year to be even higher, and to perhaps even overtake the number of APCs we pay for individually.
For details on Imperial’s current Read & Publish agreements, as well as other publisher arrangements and discounts available to Imperial authors, please see our Publisher agreements and discounts page.
Academic social network sites are currently used by researchers to share their research as well as collaborate with others studying in a similar field. Sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu and Mendeley are popular too. However, this does not necessarily make them the right place to share research. In this blog post, we explain why researchers at Imperial College London should use academic social network sites in addition to, not instead of, institutional repositories (such as Spiral). You will also find out about important differences between the two.
Why should I use an institutional repository?
Institutional repositories are officially recognised by governments, publishers, and funders for depositing published research – whereas academic social network sites are not. Even if a publisher does permit uploading a paper to ResearchGate, this will not ensure compliance with the UK’s REF 2021, research funders like the Wellcome Trust or future cOALition S (Plan S) OA requirements. This is because these policies clearly state that scholarly outputs are to be made available through institutional (or open access) repositories. Therefore, unlike academic social network sites, depositing your paper in one (such as Spiral) makes you compliant with funders, publishers and future ones too!
If you upload a paper to one of these platforms, the risk of copyright infringement is a lot higher. That’s because many of these sites have no mechanism to check for publishers’ copyright permissions and policies. A recent studyshowed that “201 (51.3%) out of 392 non-OA articles [deposited in ResearchGate] infringed the copyright and were non-compliant with publishers.” The majority of infringement, the study highlights, occurred because the wrong version was deposited. There have also been around 7 milliontake-down notices for unauthorised content on ResearchGategiven by various 17 different publishers which indicates how serious the issue is.
Institutional repositories, on the other hand, are managed (usually by a library team such as the Imperial Open Access Team) and they always check which version they are allowed to upload to a repository as open access. So, if you mistakenly sent the wrong version of an article, one of them will notify you and ask for a different version. They will also ensure the various embargo policies of publishers for you. Therefore, the risk of copyright infringement is very low when using a repository.
Academic social network sites are commercial companies. This fact creates significant drawbacks. For example, some publishers only permit depositing papers in not-for-profit repositories, which means that ResearchGate and its equivalents cannot be used at all to deposit any version of the file. They also make a profit from your research outputs by selling data, advertising jobs or providing a premium service. For this reason, their services may discontinue, shut down or change to preserve profits. In such a case, the papers you have already uploaded to these platforms may no longer be available. Being commercially-run brings another hassle too: A subscription is necessary to upload a paper to these sites or even for reaching the content of a paper. This means they keep your personal data, or worse, may use it in a direct (by email notifications) or indirect (by selling data) way.
We’re here to stay
As institutional repositories are non-profit platforms, none of the disadvantages mentioned above will occur. Institutional repositories, such as Spiral, serve as a permanent archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating the intellectual output of an institution. Did we say permanent? We are not going anywhere. Therefore, research outputs deposited in institutional repositories will be preserved and freely accessible to the public for a long time, similar to public archives. Additionally, users can immediately access and download the contents of research outputs from the repositories without a subscription or log-in. And in fact if something is closed access, end users can Request a Copy (under the Fair Dealing exception in UK copyright law) – see an example. We never ask or use your personal data.
Love your repository
In short, there are many reasons to use institutional repositories and to be careful about using academic social network sites. We advise that Imperial researchers always deposit their papers first in Spiral which will provide you with a permanent resolvable link (such as http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/73113) that you can safely post anywhere including ResearchGate. By depositing your paper in Spiral, you will ensure compliance with funders and publishers. So, you should use ResearchGate in addition to Spiral not instead of it. If you still want to deposit to academic social network sites, you can do it the legal way and check what publishers permit via the website SHERPA RoMEO. Lastly, repositories are trusted permanent archives for an institution’s research – they respect copyright law as well as promote open access to research – please use them!
Please don’t forget to check out our leaflet below which covers the same topic in a more visual way. You can also download it via Spiral (http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/74076).
Plan U: A mandate for universal access to research using preprints
A preprint is a full draft of a research paper that is shared publicly before it has been peer reviewed. They are a growing form of scholarly communication. Plan U aims to make use of preprints to provide universal access to research. We are at a point where traditional forms of scholarly communication are slow and inaccessible. Can a preprint mandate change this?
Plan U is an open access initiative that seeks to mandate depositing research papers to a preprint server before publication. This mandate would come from funders. (More information is available in this article)
What are the problems?
The process of getting a research paper published is slow and arguably this is getting slower. This means that research is delayed in being seen and used.
Plan U aims to tackle issues of accessibility. Once a paper is accepted it remains behind the journal paywall. Even if papers are deposited into open access repositories there are usually embargoes. This means that research papers are inaccessible to those who do not have access to the journal platforms.
The final issue is the expense. Some are lucky enough to have funds to pay for Article Processing Charges (APCs) at which point your research is made available at the point of publication. However, even the richest universities struggle to find money to pay for these fees.
Plan U suggests that by using preprint servers you can speed up the access to the research andmake it widely accessible for minimal costs. Preprint servers are free for both the reader and the author.Posting preprints is already widely accepted in many disciplines and is growing in others.
arXiv is generally considered the first preprint server and has been around since 1991. arXiv hosts approximately 1.5 million papers and this is growing at the rate of 140,000 a year. In the last five years, the success of arXiv has sparked the creation of other subject specific preprint servers such as bioRxiv, chemRxiv, EarthArxiv, medRxiv to name a few. It is estimated that by depositing preprints this could speed up scientific research by five times over 10 years.
Benefits of preprints:
There are recognised benefits to posting preprints. Plan U highlights the benefits of preprints to the community. Here are some benefits to the authors:
Credit: Preprints are citeable pieces
Feedback: Preprints accommodate wide feedback from a wide-ranging audience
Visibility: Papers that appear in preprint servers receive more alternative metrics
Reliable: Preprints often do not differ significantly from the published article
Without the burden of paying for high APCs more money will be freed up to work on improving systems of peer-review and academic publishing processes.
Plan S vs Plan U:
Plan S is an open access initiative that aims to make research papers freely accessible by mandating 10 key principles.The problem facing plan S is that it requires many changes to existing infrastructures of academic publishing.
Plan U,on the other hand,doesn’t require a lot of change as it plans to make use of preprint servers. Preprints are a growing form of scholarly communication and are widely accepted by researchers and publishers alike. Plan U is not an alternative to Plan S and the two could run concurrently if any funder wished to do so.
The Plan U website is a very basic text only webpage. It doesn’t include information on who is responsible for Plan U. To find this out you should look at the article published in PLoS. As the websites doesn’t contain any references or links to follow I think further development is still needed. At this point Plan U is still just an idea and whilst everyone is focused on Plan S this mandate may be one for the future.
If you are interested in learning more about Plan U and Preprints, there will be a free event hosted at SilwoodPark Campus on November 27, 2019. Please visit Eventbrite to view the programme and sign up for your free ticket.
Most useful for: All postgraduate students (masters and PhD), and staff involved in research.
In common with a number of other universities in receipt of Research Councils UK (RCUK/UKRI**) funding for open access (Cambridge, UCL, LSHTM), we cannot pay for every single RCUK-funded output to be immediate open access. The Vice Provost’s Advisory Group for Research have therefore decided to restrict the use of the RCUK grant to only pay where:
a. the publication output is in a fully open access title that appears in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or
b. the publication title does not provide a compliant “green” (self-archiving) open access route
RCUK funded authors can still expect financial support for open access for the following:
Fully open access journals e.g. PLoS, BMC etc.
‘Hybrid’ open access journals – but only when a compliant publisher “green” (self-archiving) open access route is unavailable or exceeds the individual research council embargo.
Rather than paying for open access, if you are in receipt of funding from the UK research councils, you can comply by simply self-archiving (a REF2021 requirement already). Provided that the publisher’s required embargo does not exceed the maximum permitted. The vast majority of publications are compliant via the self-archiving open access route and authors can check individual embargo periods of journals via Sherpa Romeo.
It is important to note that the choice of publication venue will not be compromised as we will pay when they exceed the permitted embargo. Funder compliance and REF2021 output eligibility will also be ensured.
The full policy of the College’s RCUK fund is available via the Open Access Library website as well as contact details with the OA Team.
**UKRI: UK Research and Innovation brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation.