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Transformative Agreements: A Primer

These agreements exist everywhere - but are often misunderstood

Editor’s Note: Earlier this week I had the pleasure of sitting at a bar with Lisa Hinchliffe and (before we moved on to more entertaining subjects), she very patiently did her best to answer my questions about the intricacies of transformative agreements. It’s a subject that’s at the forefront of how librarians, funders, and publishers are trying to sustainably shift to open access models, yet it’s still not clear exactly what the term means. As far as I can tell, whether an agreement is “transformative” is in the eye of the beholder. What Coalition S might call “transformative” may not mean the same thing as Projekt DEAL’s use of the word or the California Digital Library’s. What one publisher calls “Read and Publish” might be called “Publish and Read” by a different publisher. In trying to sort all this out, Lisa’s primer from last year is an essential resource, and we wanted to revisit it today to help anyone (like me) struggling to wrap their head around the ideas these deals present.

Is it every day or just every week that we see an announcement of a new “transformative agreement” between a publisher and a library or library consortium? Or, if not a press release announcing such an agreement, a statement that such is the goal of a newly opened — or perhaps faltering — set of negotiations? Almost as quickly, the questions start. What’s read-and-publish? Is this contract Plan S compliant? What makes an agreement transformative anyway?

What follows is a basic primer on transformative agreements and their characteristics and components.

What is a Transformative Agreement?
At its most fundamental, a contract is a transformative agreement if it seeks to shift the contracted payment from a library or group of libraries to a publisher away from subscription-based reading and towards open access publishing. Though there are many flavors of transformative agreements, the following attempts to offer a description of their core components.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

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