Learn more about UC’s open access agreement with Cambridge University Press, signed in April 2019, and what it means for UC authors who publish in Cambridge journals.

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Agreement Basics

What are the basic terms of the agreement?

The UC’s agreement with Cambridge University Press is a three-year pilot that governs both payments for UC access to Cambridge journals and payments for open access publication of UC research. This agreement provides: 

  • A direct path for UC authors to publish open access in roughly 80% of Cambridge’s journals (75 journals do not currently offer open access publishing options).
  • Significant support from the UC libraries for UC authors who publish open access in a Cambridge journal, including:
    • A reduced article processing charge 
    • Full coverage of the reduced article processing charge for authors who do not have access to grant funding
    • Partial coverage of the reduced article processing charge for authors who do have access to grant funding
    • Stable pricing for UC access to the Cambridge journal collection

When does this agreement start?

The agreement is in effect now. In the near future, Cambridge’s article publishing and payment workflow will be modified to allow UC corresponding authors to make their articles open access.  At that time, UC authors who have published articles in 2019 will be contacted about retroactively converting their articles to open access at no additional cost.

How does the agreement work?

UC agrees to pay a set amount to Cambridge University Press each year over the three years of the agreement. That payment is divided between a reading fee portion, which pays for UC access to Cambridge’s subscription-based content, and a publishing fee portion, which covers payment for UC authors to publish open access in Cambridge journals.  

Over the three years of the agreement, the total cost to UC stays controlled, but within the agreement, the Reading Fee decreases and the Publishing Fee increases, representing a shift from paying for access to paying for open access publication.

For all UC corresponding authors (see Who is considered a UC corresponding author?), open access will become the default publication option. UC has negotiated a discounted article processing charge for all such articles. In addition, the UC libraries will automatically pay a significant portion of the new, lower article processing charge for every author who chooses the open access option. Starting in 2020, authors who have access to grant funding will be asked to contribute the final portion of the publication fee from their grants if they are able to do so; for those without access to funding, the university will pay the full article processing charge directly to Cambridge. As the agreement ramps up in 2019, the university will pay the full article processing charge for every article where the author chooses to publish open access.  Authors can also opt out of the open access arrangement and publish behind a paywall if they so choose.

Why did UC enter into this agreement?

This agreement has two goals: (1) to support UC’s mission as a public university and advance the global shift toward sustainable open access publishing by making UC-authored publications open to the world, and (2) maintain journal affordability. UC faculty committees have set the libraries’ course for achieving these goals by urging us to work towards divesting from the subscription system and redirecting funds to invest in open access publication. Guiding faculty statements and messaging include:

Why do we think this model will control costs and promote open access?

Making open access publishing the default pathway for authors, and offering the discounted article processing charges and financial support described above, will enable and encourage more authors — particularly those in disciplines without significant grant funding — to publish open access. In addition, because the overall cost is capped — with UC’s Reading Fee (library payment for access to subscription content) decreasing as the Publication Fee (library payments for open access publication) increases — the overall financial risk to UC and UC authors is limited.

The UC Libraries reviewed a number of funding strategies (set forth in the Pathways to OA toolkit) that could help transition academic journals from closed to open. One such strategy would be to enter into a transformative agreement, in which institutions and publishers shift the publishing model “from one based on toll access (subscription) to one in which publishers are remunerated a fair price for their open access publishing services” (ESAC definition). That model is exactly what UC and Cambridge University Press embarked upon.

Impact for Authors

Why should I publish open access?

The mission of the University of California is to “provide long-term benefits to society through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge.” Open access publishing, which makes more of the research generated by UC scholars freely available, fulfills our mission by transmitting knowledge more broadly and facilitating new discoveries that build on our scholars’ work.

As stated in its Open Access Policy, UC’s systemwide faculty Senate recognizes “the benefits that accrue to themselves as individual scholars and to the scholarly enterprise from such wide dissemination, including greater recognition, more thorough review, consideration and critique, and a general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge.”

You can read more about the value of open access and UC’s efforts to support it on our companion page, Moving Towards Open Access.

Am I affected by this agreement?

Yes, if you are (1) a UC affiliate (faculty, lecturer, staff, graduate student), (2) you are the article’s corresponding author, and (3) you choose to publish your article open access in Cambridge journals. 

If you want to publish your article open access in Cambridge journals, UC has negotiated a deal that will make it more cost effective for you to do so. If you want to publish in Cambridge journals but do not want to publish open access, you can still publish your article as paywalled content in Cambridge journals. 

All UC faculty, lecturers, staff, and students will continue to have reading access to the full suite of Cambridge’s journals (400 journal titles). 

Who is considered a corresponding author?

The corresponding author is the person who oversees the manuscript and correspondence during the publication process – from manuscript corrections and proofreading, to handling the revisions and re-submission of revised manuscripts up to the acceptance of the manuscripts. The corresponding author has the authority to act on behalf of all co-authors in all matters pertaining to publication of the manuscript including supplementary material. The corresponding author is also responsible for obtaining such agreements and for informing the co-authors of the manuscript’s status throughout the submission, review, and publication process. In addition, the corresponding author acts as the point of contact for any inquiries after the paper is published.

Why am I being asked to use grant money?

The UC libraries have agreed to pay a substantial share of the article processing charge, including a full payment if authors do not have grant funds available. However, the libraries’ budget alone cannot cover the full cost of all open access publications while continuing to pay for subscription access where needed.

In general, publication costs are allowed to be charged to federal grants in the U.S. By contributing grant funds, particularly from federal agencies, UC authors demonstrate their commitment to making their publicly-funded research accessible to the public. Additionally, participating in this way expands the pool of available funds for UC authors who do not have grant funding available to support their open access publishing.

What if I don’t have any grant money? Can I still publish open access with Cambridge?

Yes. If you do not have grant money (or your grant is insufficient to pay the remaining article processing charge costs after the discount and library contribution) and you want to publish your article open access, the UC libraries will pay your full article processing charge.

Why should I pay to publish open access when I can already publish open access for free under UC’s open access policies?

While it is true that under UC’s open access policies you can deposit your last author’s copy (sometimes called a “postprint”) into eScholarship and any other open access repository of your choice, paying a subsidized article processing charge fee to Cambridge offers specific advantages:

  • The final published version (the version of record) of the article is accessible and open upon publication within the journal itself; because this is the version that is most often cited or referred to, this will allow more potential readers to access your research at no cost.
  • Your payment, combined with the $1,000 contributed by the UC libraries, provides fair compensation to Cambridge for the value they add to the scholarly publishing process, while allowing your published research to be freely accessible. This model has the potential to sustainably make all research open to the world.

What types of publications are covered by this agreement?

All research articles and review articles are covered by this agreement. Other article types (e.g., editorial material, book reviews, meeting reports) are not currently covered by the agreement.

Which Cambridge journals are included in this agreement?

A complete listing of Cambridge journals is located here. Any journal marked with “Open access” or “Contains open access” on that page is included in the agreement. 

My society journal is a Cambridge journal but it isn't on the list of journals that allow open access publication. Why?

Around 75 journals published by Cambridge do not currently offer open access publishing options and are therefore not eligible for open access publication; these are generally journals published on behalf of a society which has not yet chosen to allow open access publication. Cambridge has made it a strategic priority to ensure that as many journals as possible offer open access publishing, and they are currently in discussions with the relevant societies. 

UC researchers are still able to access content in these journals; all that is restricted is UC authors’ ability to publish open access. 

If you are a member of a society with a journal that does not allow open access publication and would like to encourage your society to transition to open access publishing, please see our resources here.

How will the mechanics of payments work?

In order to kickstart the program, in 2019, the UC libraries will cover the entire article processing charge for corresponding authors — meaning no author payments will be necessary at all. 

In 2020, the article processing charge support structure described above will go into effect, and authors will be asked to contribute grant funding if it is available.

What if I don't want to publish open access? Can I still publish with Cambridge?

Yes. Where and how you publish is your decision. The agreement with Cambridge does not mandate open access publishing, nor does it dictate your journal selection. Rather, it makes open access publishing an option for most Cambridge journals, and you can opt out. 

What if I have questions or need help?

What does this agreement mean for me in 2019?

How will I be notified that an open access option is available?

Upon acceptance of your manuscript, you will receive an email from Cambridge notifying you of an open access publishing option. Unless you opt out from open access publishing, you will subsequently receive an email from Cambridge University Press (this time sent by the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink system, which handles payments for Cambridge) with instructions about payment process. In 2019, you will not actually be contributing any funds to make your article open access.

How will the journal ask me to contribute funds?

In 2019, you will not be asked to contribute funds. When you get the email from Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink system, you will simply click through to log in and indicate that the UC libraries are covering the article processing charge.

Can I opt out of publishing open access?

Yes. Where and how you publish is your decision. There is no mandate to publish your articles open access with Cambridge.

What if I have questions or need help?

What does this agreement mean for me in 2020?

What will change in 2020?

In 2020, authors who elect to publish their articles open access will be asked to contribute available grant funding to pay a portion of the already-discounted article processing charge (after the libraries first pay a significant portion of the article processing charge). Again, if you do not have grant funding to pay the remainder of the article processing charge, the UC libraries will cover the entire article processing charge. 

How will the journal notify me of what I’m supposed to do, and how much I’m being asked to pay?

Upon acceptance of your manuscript, you will receive an email from Cambridge University Press, via the Copyright Clearance Center, with instructions for how to begin the payment process in Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink system. The RightsLink payment system will show you how much you are being asked to pay, and guide you through the process of paying a portion of the article processing charge (if you have grant funding available to do so), asking the library to pay the entire article processing charge, or opting out of open access publishing entirely.

What if I don’t have grant funds?

If you don’t have grant funds and you want to publish open access, the libraries will pay your full article processing charge. Follow instructions in the RightsLink system to ask the library to pay on your behalf.

Can I opt out of publishing open access?

Yes. How and where you publish is your choice. UC’s agreement with Cambridge is in place to make it easier and more cost effective for authors who elect to open up their work. 

When will these new workflows and open access payments go into effect?

The ability to publish open access through the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink system is available now, and in the near future the system will be configured to become the default process for UC corresponding authors, with the entire cost of open access publishing being covered by the UC libraries for the remainder of 2019. Starting in early 2020, the system described above, wherein authors are asked to pay a portion of the article processing charge if they have grant funds available to do so, will go into effect.

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