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 (a small number of 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

The agreement began in January 2019 and runs through December of 2021.

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 as 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 is now the default publication option for research and review articles. UC has negotiated a 30% discounted article processing charge for all such articles. In addition, the UC libraries will automatically pay the first $1000 of the discounted article processing charge for every author who chooses the open access option. 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. 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. Such payment is compliant with federal public access policies (although other routes to compliance, such as green open access deposit, are also available to authors). 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.

When did the UC Libraries start asking authors to use grant funds?

This cost-sharing model, in which authors with grant funds available are asked to contribute a portion of their article processing charge, began in January 2020. The libraries paid the full cost of open access publishing for all UC authors publishing with Cambridge during the agreement’s 2019 launch phase, and continue to do so for authors who do not have grant funds or for authors whose grant funds are insufficient to cover their portion of the article processing charge.

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.
  • 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?

A small number of 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 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.

We explain the process in detail in the Payment Process section of these FAQs.

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.

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?

Payment Workflow

If I choose to publish open access, how do payments work?

If you are a UC corresponding author and you select open access publishing through Cambridge’s article submission system after your article has been accepted, you will be asked to log into their payment processing system called CCC RightsLink.

(It is necessary to set up an account in RightsLink first; if you do not have an account, you will be prompted to create one within RightsLink during the payment process.) 

Then you will click through the following steps in the RightsLink system:

1. Select the option to receive funding from UC libraries.

Your selection initiates the UC libraries’ contribution of at least $1000 toward your article processing charge.  Once you select this option, you will see a summary of charges that breaks the charge into two components: the $1000 that the UC libraries will automatically pay, and the remainder that you will be asked to pay if you have research funds available.

2. Indicate whether you have research funds available to pay the author’s portion of the article processing charge.

Choose whether you have research funds available to pay the remaining balance due, or whether you do not have such funds available and need the UC libraries to cover any remaining balance.

3. If you indicated that you do not have research funds available for the balance of the article processing charge, identify the reason full funding is needed.

Choose from a menu of options about why full funding is needed (e.g., the research is not grant-funded and you have no other sources of funding available; the grant budget did not include money for publishing; etc.)

After making these choices, you will still see the two components of the article processing charge (first $1000 funded by UC, and balance funded by UC) on the charges estimate screen. Click “Payment Options” to proceed to the next step, where you will submit a request for full funding from the UC libraries. Your request will be reviewed within one business day and if approved, your charge will be paid in full by the libraries. You will be contacted if your request is denied for any reason.

4. If you indicated that you do have research funds available for the balance of the article processing charge, you will be invoiced.

If you select this option, you will see your portion of the article processing charge disappear from the charges estimate; you will pay this charge later in the process.  Click “Payment Options” to proceed to the next step.

You will first be asked to submit the UC Libraries-funded component ($1000) for approval. Then you will be prompted to pay the remaining balance.  You can make this payment via credit card or request an invoice.


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