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Anneliese Taylor
Anneliese is the Head of Scholarly Communication. Contact Anneliese for help evaluating journals and publishers, assessing research impact, and for scholarly publishing resources.

Cambridge University Press and UC Agree to Open Access Publishing Deal

Photo by Gabriel Sollmann on Unsplash

The University of California announced that it is entering into an agreement with Cambridge University Press that will combine online access to Cambridge’s journals with open access publishing for UC authors. This is UC’s first open access agreement with a major publisher, and Cambridge’s first such deal in the United States. Cambridge is among the top 20 publishers that UC authors publish with in terms of total article output, so this deal makes it possible for a significant number of UC-authored articles to be made accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.

The big picture
The Cambridge agreement will implement the transformative model that UC attempted to arrange with Elsevier. During the three-year pilot agreement, UC campuses will have access to all 400 journals published by Cambridge, and UC authors will be able to publish articles in most Cambridge journals as open access (OA) with financial support from the Library. This OA option will be available for 290 of Cambridge’s journals, including 260 subscription journals and 30 OA journals. The other 110 journals, which are owned by societies, do not currently offer an OA option. These journals will be accessible but will not be part of the OA model until Cambridge is able to introduce the OA option.  As is standard for license agreements for published content, UC will retain perpetual access to all of the subscription journals. 

Research and review articles and proceedings are eligible for OA publishing under this agreement. Other publication types such as book reviews, commentaries, and books are not covered.

How will OA payments work?
OA in these journals is enabled by a per-article charge referred to as an article processing charge (APC). As it is now, UC authors who choose OA for their articles pay the APC in full. Under the new UC agreement, a multi-payer model will be introduced whereby the UC libraries pay a portion of the APC and ask the author to cover the remaining portion out of their grant. If the author is not able to cover this portion, the libraries will pay the full APC. UC has also negotiated a 30% discount on Cambridge’s APCs, which will make the OA option even more achievable. Authors may choose to opt out of publishing their article OA and make it so that only paying readers may access it.

Once published open access, articles are permanently free for all readers to access, download, share, and re-use. OA publishing ensures that UC authors retain their copyright, and usage by others requires attribution to the copyright owner and source.

When does the agreement go into effect?
Though the three-year agreement is effective in 2019, we do not expect the multi-payer workflow to be implemented until 2020. This allows UC and Cambridge time to develop the best possible author workflows and for UC campuses to get the word out to its stakeholders. Faculty input will be sought as we refine the workflow with Cambridge and its technical partner over the next several months, and additional details will be shared about the arrangements once they emerge. If you’d like to be involved in workflow testing, please let us know.

How did this deal come about?
You may be familiar with UC’s efforts to sign a transformative open access agreement with Elsevier, which resulted in UC ending its contract earlier this year (though as of this writing, Elsevier is still providing UC access to new, unlicensed content). The UC California Digital Library, which negotiates book and journal content agreements with publishers on behalf of the UC campuses, has simultaneously been pursuing the same kind of agreement with other publishers. This approach is guided by the faculty’s principles for transforming scholarly communication and the university’s call to action for negotiating journal agreements. 

Two key elements made this deal possible: first, a single arrangement for both ‘reading’ access and OA publishing for UC authors in Cambridge’s journals that doesn’t substantially raise UC’s contract price, and in which the reading fee decreases year-over-year as the OA publishing rate and payments increase.  And second, Cambridge’s ability and willingness to accommodate UC’s multi-payer workflow, which is the first of its kind.

Have questions or feedback? Please contact the Library at scholcomm@ucsf.edu