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cOAlition S publishes updated criteria for hybrid journals transitioning to open access

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cOAlition S have updated their criteria for transformative journals, following a public consultation held earlier this year on draft guidance to help these journals move towards open access. This update refines the transformative journal concept, following the decision in May 2019 to permit individual hybrid journals to be deemed ‘transformative’ for a short transition period to help achieve Plan S’ goals.

“cOAlition S defines a transformative journal as a subscription/hybrid journal that is committed to transitioning to a fully open access journal.”

Following a review of the responses to the public consultation, several key changes have been made to the guidance for transformative journals, including:

  • The threshold when a journal must switch to full open access has increased from 50% to 75%.
  • The commitment to transition to full open access by December 2024 has been removed.
  • The annual growth target for the proportion of content which must be published open access has decreased from 8% to at least 5% in absolute terms (and at least 15% in relative terms, year-on-year).

Other criteria which a transformative journal must adhere to include:

  • Implementing transparent pricing for open access content and ensuring that institutions purchasing a subscription pay for remaining subscription content only.
  • Agreeing to provide an annual public report covering progress and compliance with transformative journal requirements, including information on the usage (in terms of downloads, citations and altmetrics) of open access articles versus subscription content.

Springer Nature welcomed this announcement and has committed to transitioning the majority of its English language journals that are not already open access, including Nature and the Nature Research journals.

In addition to this model, innovations in open access publishing are seeking to reduce the cost burden on authors, given rising article processing charges (APCs). One such venture, called Subscribe to Open, asks institutions to make a contribution equivalent to their previous subscription, minus a 5% incentivising discount. Subscribe to Open is being trialled by Annual Reviews for 5 of its 51 titles, with the proviso that paywalls will be reinstated and discounts rescinded if there are not enough subscribers. Elsevier’s European Economic Review Plus is piloting another option, the Editorial Processing Charge. Under this model, authors pay a low fee (currently €527) if their article is selected for peer review, rather than paying a flat fee at the point of article submission or an APC.


Summary by Julianna Solomons PhD, CMPP from Aspire Scientific


With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd

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