Tag: OAWeek2022

Introducing a new journal search tool for open access publisher agreements

Screenshot of journal title search results for search term energyWe 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 tool (powered by SciFree) is part of our revamped publisher agreements and discounts webpage, which has also been reformatted for ease of navigation as the number of agreements Imperial is part of has grown. A full list of journals with fully covered APCs (.xls) is also available from the webpage to view in an Excel spreadsheet (Imperial members only).

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.


Screenshot showing search results table with columns: Journals, Included in agreements, License option, Publishing model


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 openaccess@imperial.ac.uk if you need any help interpreting the search results.

Screenshot showing link to search DOAJ, and embedded Plan S journal checker search tool

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 openaccess@imperial.ac.uk

We hope you find this useful!

The changing state of Gold Open Access at Imperial

Publisher Agreements 

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:

Imperial papers made OA through publisher agreements (1 Oct 2021 – 30 Sep 2022)

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:

Individual APCs paid for from OA funds

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):

APCs paid for by each fund (1 Oct 2021 – 30 Sep 2022)

For details on Imperial’s current publisher agreements, please see our newly revamped Publisher agreements and discounts page, and for details on our OA funds and how Imperial authors can apply for APC funding please see our Applying for funding page.


Springer Nature negotiations

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.

The sector has agreed criteria for our negotiations. Agreements should

  • Reduce and constrain costs
  • Provide full and immediate open access publishing
  • 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.

100% stacked bar chart showing Breakdown of Imperial College Library Expenditure between content, operations and staff 2000 to 2021. In 2000 the cost of content was 45.5% of total budget and in 2021 it was 56.6% having reached 59% in 2020

Provide full and immediate open access publishing

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.

What next?


Researchers can continue to publish in SN journals and meet both funder OA obligations and have REF eligibility

“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”

If you have questions or want further information

For other activities during #OAWeek2022 see this post by my colleague John Murtagh.

About me: I am Director of Library Services at Imperial College London. My profile is here and you can find me on twitter @ChrisBanks. I have an ORCiD and you can get yours here