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PolyU Library

Open Access

This guide provides information and resources in open access and scholarly publishing.

Movement Towards Open Access Publishing

Movement Towards OA Publishing

Open Science like Open Access (OA) to research articles and Open Data has become even more important these days, as evident in the battle against the COVID pandemic.

As a researcher, you may hear from your colleagues or collaborators about paying Article Processing Charge (APC) to publish your research in OA. You may also notice that more journals now have an option to allow authors to pay APCs so that their research articles can be made available to the larger scientific community immediately upon publishing – moving away from access via library subscription. This change has been intensifying over the last few years where more Authors are willing to pay APCs to make their research more open. Libraries too, start to review their journal subscriptions as more research publications are made openly accessible.


What caused the recent uptake in Open Access publishing when this movement has been here for more than a decade? 

An increase in Open Access mandates by funders mandates like UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2021, Plan S in Europe, National Institutes of Health in the United States and HK’s Research Grants Council, has led to more authors seeking to publish Open Access and to deposit their publications and data in institutional repositories like PolyU Institutional Research Archive (PIRA).


What's changed in academic publishing? 

This powerful initiative has made a significant shift in transforming the business models in academic publishing over the last few years. Publishers begin to change their business model by increasing the percentage of open access articles in their journals as this would mean more authors can make their research open with the payment of Article Processing Charge (APC), while continuing to charge institutions, like University Libraries, subscription costs to access these research.

As a result, Universities and Libraries begin to relook at these subscription contracts in the hope of moving away from a payment for subscription, to a contracted payment for both Open Access publishing and reading of journals. This is known as Transformative Agreement (TA), where the change can take place over several years.

Transformative agreements, also called "read and publish" agreements, are contracts between universities and publishers that shift scholarly publishing towards full open access. These agreements combine access to subscription content (READ portion) with the ability for researchers to publish in open access journals (PUBLISH portion). 

In these agreements with the publishers, PolyU corresponding authors may benefit from a full waiver of APC to publish their work with an Open Access option. Whilst researchers can publish open access without having to pay additional Article Processing Charges (APCs), these agreements usually come with an additional cost  (Publish component) that is to be borne by the Library.

Not all agreements are alike - each is unique in its terms and conditions. The Read & Publish agreements signed by the Library with Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Springer serve as notable examples. The CUP agreement grants all PolyU authors the opportunity to publish in Open Access, whereas the Springer agreement imposes an annual quota on the University's open access articles (further details can be found here). Publishers take various factors into account, such as subscription costs, past article publications, and projected growth in Open Access articles, when determining the specifics of each agreement.

The Library will work closely with publishers who offer such agreements to establish cost-effective Transformative Agreements for PolyU researchers across all disciplines, that will benefit the University in the long run.


Other TA examples around the world:



What's the impact on me?

As more publishers sign on, there will be an increase in the number of Read & Publish (R&P) agreements signed with institutions. With these agreements, researchers will have more choices for removing research articles from behind paywalls. This will boost your research's visibility and reach in the international scholarly community. You will also keep the rights to your publication if you choose to publish Open Access. If you publish in journals published by publishers with whom the University has R&P agreements, consider making them open access.

However, not all R&P proposals from publishers bring long-term benefits to the University. If you are unable to publish open access due to a lack of an R&P agreement, please submit the appropriate version of your publication (usually the Final Accepted Manuscript) to the PolyU Institutional Research Archive (PIRA). Depending on the publisher's self-archiving policy, a permitted version of your publication will be made freely accessible to everyone as soon as possible.