Learn more about UC’s agreement with open access publisher PLOS, signed in February 2020, and what it means for UC authors who publish in PLOS journals.

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Agreement Basics

What are the basic terms of the agreement?

All journals published by PLOS are fully open access journals. PLOS normally charges authors an article processing charge (APC) for manuscripts it accepts for publication. These APCs are how PLOS covers the cost of publishing its journals, and the fees vary depending on the journal and type of article. UC’s agreement with PLOS is a two-year institutional program through which the UC Libraries provide UC authors with funding support to help cover those charges, including:

  • Partial coverage of the APC for UC authors who have access to grant funding 
  • Full coverage of the APC for UC authors who do not have access to grant funding

The goal of this cost-sharing model is to stretch the UC libraries’ available funds and help as many authors as possible, while ensuring that lack of research funds does not present a barrier for UC authors who wish to publish in PLOS’ open access journals.

What are the effective dates of the agreement?

The agreement applies to UC-affiliated corresponding authors whose articles are submitted for publication from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022. Manuscripts that were submitted before April 1, 2020 are not covered, regardless of their acceptance date.

How does the agreement work?

UC Libraries will pay the first $1,000 towards the article processing charge (APC) for all articles with a UC corresponding author that are submitted for publication between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022. Authors who have access to grant funding will then be asked to contribute the remainder of the publication fee from their grants if they are able to do so. 

For those UC authors without access to grant funding, the UC libraries will pay the full APC. These authors will select the option in PLOS’ submission system asking the libraries to pay the entire fee.

To be eligible for either level of support, the corresponding author must be affiliated with one of the 10 UC campuses, UCOP, or Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Will funding support for PLOS continue to be provided after this pilot ends?

The libraries will be evaluating this and other open access publisher agreements over the course of the pilot period. Evaluation criteria will include a variety of factors, including author feedback and the overall financial sustainability of the arrangement for both UC and PLOS. While our hope and intention is that we will be able to continue and extend this model in future years, treating these arrangements as pilots for now will allow us to test and learn as we go. We will keep the UC community informed as the libraries’ open access support strategies unfold.

Why did UC enter into this agreement?

This agreement supports UC’s mission as a public university to make more UC research open to the world by making it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish with fully open access publishers like PLOS. 

UC faculty committees have set the libraries’ course for achieving these goals by urging us to work towards redirecting funds from subscriptions to open access publication. Guiding faculty statements and messaging include:

UC recognizes that there are many pathways to open access publishing of research. Through this pilot agreement with PLOS, the UC adds another option for our authors who want to make their work freely and openly available, regardless of whether they have funds available to pay the article processing charge.

Why do we think this model will sustainably promote open access?

The transition to an open access publishing world requires investment in and support for multiple strategies. By subsidizing fees for authors who want to publish in open access journals like PLOS’, UC is striving to make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to choose open access publishing of their research, in line with its mission as a public university. Such opportunities also exemplify UC’s commitment to establish a broad portfolio of open access agreements with publishers of all types and sizes, and to encourage the development of affordable open access publishing outlets.

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 (1) are a UC affiliate (e.g. faculty, lecturer, staff, graduate student), (2) are the article’s corresponding author, and (3) choose to publish your article in a journal from PLOS. The corresponding author must be from one of the 10 UC campuses, UCOP, or the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Who is considered a corresponding author?

PLOS considers the corresponding author to be either the sole author of an article, or the co-author who has been designated by all co-authors to serve as the corresponding author on the article. The corresponding author has the authority to represent his/her co-authors in all publication-related matters with PLOS. In addition, the corresponding author acts as the point of contact for any inquiries after the paper is published. To be eligible for funding under this agreement, the corresponding author must be a UC affiliate.

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 for all UC authors.

In general, publication costs are allowed to be charged to federal and private 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.

What if I don't have any grant money? Can I still publish with PLOS?

Yes. If you do not have grant money (or your grant is insufficient to pay the remaining article processing charge after the library contribution) and you want to publish your article in one of PLOS’ open access journals, the UC libraries will pay your full APC. All PLOS editorial decisions are made independently of the author’s indication of available grant funds during the submission process.

Are all articles from PLOS included in this agreement?

Yes, all PLOS journals and article types are included in the agreement with UC. 

How do the mechanics of payments work?

During the manuscript submission process in the Editorial Manager submission system, PLOS asks you how you will cover the article processing charge (APC), should your manuscript be accepted for publication. 

  1. On the Additional Information screen, in the Publication Fees section, indicate that your institution will fully or partially pay the fee as a member of the PLOS Institutional Account Program.

  2. In the Institutional Account Program panel that appears, select the University of California location (or Lawrence Berkeley Lab, as appropriate) for the corresponding author. 

  3. You’ll then see Author Confirmation text specific to the UC agreement. The text in this section explains that UC will contribute $1000 towards every publication fee with PLOS. For the remaining portion of the APC, if any, indicate either that you are able to charge the publication fee to a research grant or other funding source, or that you are not able to pay the balance of the publication fee and would like the UC libraries to pay the remainder. 

  4. If you indicate that you have research funds available to pay the balance of the publication fee, PLOS will invoice you the publication fee minus $1000 if and when your article is accepted for publication. If you indicate that you do not have research funds available to pay the balance of the publication fee, PLOS will invoice the UC libraries directly for the full amount if and when your article is accepted for publication, and you will not receive an invoice. 

You do not need to ask your campus library separately for funding.

What if I have questions or need help?

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