The Impact of a Transformative Agreement

By: Guest contributor, Mon Sep 26 2022

Author: Guest contributor

It’s over six years since the Springer Nature/Jisc UK Transformative Agreement (TA) was first piloted, and it has been accompanied by a significant growth in both the quantity of open access (OA) content and the usage of OA and subscription content. Equally important, it has played a beneficial role in saving time and money for the participating institutions. The TA’s significant impact on the transition to OA is highlighted in Springer Nature’s new white paper: ‘Creating new pathways: the Springer Nature/Jisc UK Transformative Agreement.’

Springer Nature is committed to accelerating the transition to OA in a sustainable manner, recognising the essential role OA has in accelerating the speed of scientific discovery, and the UK TA with Jisc is an important part of this process. It enables participating institutions to cover OA costs, also known as Article Processing Charges (APCs), for affiliated researchers whilst also giving researchers access to journal subscription content, regardless of discipline, access to funding or career stage.

As the new white paper clearly shows, as well as providing researchers with greater choice in how they publish and the content they access, there are also significant advantages for institutions: 

  • The TA has helped control the escalating costs of subscriptions and APCs
  • It has helped to centralise the administration of disparate micropayments
  • It has created a more transparent pricing model. 

The significance of the impact of the UK TA over the past six years is beyond doubt.

A Transformative Agreement that enables OA growth

The TA has created a new route to OA publication for many researchers, and it has been accompanied by significant growth in the number of OA publications. The annual publication of OA articles in eligible Springer journals increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% year on year between 2016 and 2021, from 3,088 to 5,360 articles. Notably, this significant growth rate doesn’t even include the dramatic increase following the introduction of the TA in 2016.

OA growth chart © Springer Nature 2022

The impact of the TA will have been particularly felt in those disciplines where OA funding has been less readily available, such as the Humanities and Social Sciences. As an earlier case study[1] found, the Springer Compact agreement (as this TA was previously known) made a positive difference in these areas. Between 2013 and 2016 the output of gold OA articles from UK corresponding authors publishing in Springer Nature’s Mathematics, Humanities and Social Science journals increased from 8-11% to 57-62%.

This growth in OA publishing has been accompanied by even greater growth in the usage of both OA and non-OA content. Usage of OA and subscription content increased by 17% CAGR between 2016 and 2021, and with 86% of the usage of articles under the TA coming from subscription content, it also shows the importance of the ‘read’ part of the agreement.

A Transformative Agreement to ease institutional costs and workflows

The TA has also had significant advantages for those participating institutions, not least in the reduction of the administrative burden and costs. A report sponsored by JISC[2] on the value and future of TAs in 2019 found the Springer Nature TA provided by far the largest cost avoidance of the TAs to the UK higher education sector (£5.8m in 2017) while reducing the total cost for publication by the highest amount (43% in 2017).

The advantage of the TA to libraries has also been confirmed in the interviews that have taken place with different-sized libraries to more fully understand the TA’s impact on workflows, budgets, and administration. As James Caudwell, Head of Electronic Resources, Cambridge University Library, says of the Springer Nature/Jisc UK TA:

“It’s exemplary. It’s been our benchmark agreement, because we’ve been able to measure other less good deals against it.”

The Springer Nature/Jisc UK TA has been pivotal to the growth in OA at Springer Nature over the past six years, and Springer Nature is currently working with Jisc on the renewal of the current Springer journals TA. With the inclusion of the Palgrave Macmillan Journals anticipated in the TA, and ongoing discussions for a TA for Nature Research journals to begin in 2023, the advantages for participating institutions looks set to increase even further in the future.

You can read more about the impact of this TA in our new white paper ‘Creating new pathways: the Springer Nature/Jisc UK Transformative Agreement.’ You can also find out more information about the Springer Nature/Jisc UK TA here.




Author: Guest contributor

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