UC has articulated a  process to prioritize which publishers to work with in  negotiating  transformative agreements.   Essentially, we set priorities for engaging with publishers by assessing the volume of UC publishing output, and evaluating that output in the context of the opportunities afforded for productive results with a given publisher.  


We assess publishing output as a quantitative measure assigned based on the use of commercially available tools to determine the number of UC-authored publications per year.  

Our approach targets publishers based on the scale of UC-authored article publishing, because by shifting the largest number of articles to open access, we have the most impact on overall open access transformation.  However, we are also committed to working with and supporting publishers of all types, sizes, and disciplines, so we have intentionally incorporated criteria that help us assess the opportunity for working with publishers with lower levels of UC publication.    


We assess opportunity as a qualitative measure of readiness for– and potential of –the engagement to succeed for UC, and to advance open access in the broader environment, based on some or all of these factors: 

  • Whether a publisher aligns with the “publisher characteristics” included in the Guidelines for Evaluating Transformative Open Access Agreements, including: alignment with academic mission and values; a commitment to a transition to full open access; and willingness to work in partnership;
  • whether a publisher has a compatible business model or is willing to shape one with/for us; 
  • whether there is faculty advocacy; 
  • whether there is a collaborative opportunity with other institutions; and
  • whether the agreement would set a positive precedent beyond UC, having impact on the broader scholarly publishing system.

Evaluation and prioritization

We rank publishers on these two dimensions of output and opportunity, and place them on a matrix, yielding four quadrants (see figure below).   We look to the publishers in the upper right quadrant of the matrix (high output and high opportunity) as having the most strategic potential, given that both opportunity and output are high.  Agreements with publishers in this quadrant are expected to be well positioned to yield high impact by making more articles open, and to be more likely to be efficiently and successfully completed and implemented. 

We also look to the publishers in the upper left quadrant (low output/high opportunity), where there is also strategic potential, and unique opportunities: to build on strong faculty advocacy, to grasp an opportunity to quickly implement our model, or to support a core and trusted scholarly society that is ready to partner and build a path to OA that could be applied to other customers.

This ranking process helps us identify productive ways to direct our energies, but we do acknowledge its  limitations.  Those limitations include the reality that our rankings of ‘opportunity’ are inherently somewhat subjective.  They are based on what we know about a publisher, and given limited resources to obtain and analyze information, this measure only reflects what we have had time to learn.  In addition, the process reflects our understanding of a portion of the overall landscape– the portion that is in our field of engagement.  It does not provide an assessment of the entire scholarly publishing system.  To mitigate these limitations as much as possible, we have built redundancy and standardization into the ranking process. 

Want to know more?

  • If you are a UC author or staff member who has questions or feedback to offer, please let us know.
  • If you are a publisher interested in pursuing a transformative agreement with UC, please let us know.
  • If you are a library interested in learning more about transformative agreements, please see our information on Negotiating Transformative Agreements.