Library funds open access publishing for faculty, students, and staff

The University of Chicago Library now provides open access publishing options to faculty, students, and staff through agreements reached this past year with publishers including the American Chemical Society, Duke University Press, Microbiology Society, Public Library of Science, and the Royal Society.

Open Access symbol

These transformative agreements seek to provide greater and more equitable access to critical research by changing the publishing model from one that is based on library subscriptions to one that covers publisher costs associated with publishing articles open access. Greater and more equitable access to research is globally beneficial and has an important impact here on campus. Not only are articles openly available to all, but University of Chicago research is much more visible, with the potential for increased views worldwide. Importantly, open access and transformative agreements also allow the Library to negotiate for faculty to retain their copyright; for example, three of the Library agreements with publishers specify articles are published with a CC-BY license.

To date the University of Chicago Library has entered into the following agreements:

  • American Chemical Society. The Library has entered into an agreement with the American Chemical Society for a limited number of open access tokens that can be used by faculty, students, and staff. This is a three-year agreement with a set number of tokens per year. To date, we have used 25 of 35 tokens. Articles are published with a CC-BY license.
  • Duke University Press. The Library is providing support to the Demography journal, published by the Population Association of America (PAA) through a partnership with Duke University Press starting in 2021. The PAA relies on volunteer financial support instead of subscription fees or open access charges.
  • Microbiology Society. We have entered into an agreement where the Library pays an additional fee on top of our annual subscription, which allows University of Chicago researchers to publish fully open articles in all four Microbiology Society journals at no cost. Articles are published with a CC-BY license.
  • Public Library of Science (PLOS). The Library has entered into a 3- year PLOS Community Action Publishing agreement through the Big Ten Academic Alliance in which we pay an annual cost and University of Chicago researchers can publish in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology without an open access publishing charge. Articles are published with a CC-BY license.
  • Royal Society. The Library has entered into a 1-year agreement, beginning January 2022, which will allow all faculty to publish open access for free in any Royal Society journal.

The Library has also entered into several so-called “Subscribe to Open” agreements. In this model, libraries continue to subscribe to a journal, package of journals, or collection of electronic books. Once the combined subscriptions reach a publisher-defined threshold, publishers make their content open access to the world. Examples include select Annual Reviews titles, mathematical journals published by EMS Press, as well as solo titles Astronomy and Astrophysics and Molecular Biology of the Cell. The Library has also supported projects such as Berghahn Open Anthro, which converted thirteen journals in anthropology to open access, beginning in 2020.

In an effort to better understand the impact of transformative agreements at the Library, on campus, with partners like the Big Ten Academic Alliance and across the globe, a Library Transformative Agreements Working Group has been created and charged with determining the challenges and opportunities around transformative agreements, including analyzing them strategically and developing criteria for determining whether to pursue an agreement, or not. The group will develop a set of recommendations for the Library moving forward. The Transformative Agreements Working Group welcomes thoughts and input from the University community and can be reached at