As of March 9, 2021, the University of California (UC) has a three-year open access agreement with the Royal Society. The agreement includes open access publishing of an unlimited number of articles by corresponding authors at the nine participating UC campuses (UCSF is not participating), and provides researchers at those campuses with unlimited reading access to the full portfolio of Royal Society journals. 

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) to maintain journal affordability. As with UC’s other transformative open access agreements, the UC libraries are providing funding to help cover open access publishing fees for UC authors who publish in Royal Society journals.

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Agreement Basics

What are the basic terms of the agreement?

The agreement runs from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023 and covers open access publishing in the Royal Society’s hybrid (subscription-based) and open access journals.  It covers 9 of the 10 UC campuses (UC San Francisco is not participating).  

How does the agreement work?

Under the agreement, the UC libraries will automatically pay the first $1,000 of the open access fee, or article processing charge (APC), for all UC authors who choose to publish in a Royal Society journal. Authors who do not have research funds available can request full funding of the APC from the libraries, ensuring that lack of research funds does not present a barrier for UC authors who wish to publish open access in Royal Society journals. For details, see below under “Article Payment Process.”

UC has shifted its investment from paying to read Royal Society journals to paying based on UC authors publishing in Royal Society journals. Based on careful modeling of UC publication rates, baseline fees have been established, with the amounts paid in bulk by UC. The exact amounts paid will be determined by UC corresponding author choices to publish open access, and the level of contribution of research funds from authors.  

Cost controls have been put in place so that the total owed by UC in any year of the agreement is bounded, and APC rates will remain the same throughout the term of the agreement.

Impact for Authors

Am I affected by this agreement?

Yes, if you are (1) a UC affiliate (faculty, lecturer, staff, graduate student) at one of UC’s campuses other than UC San Francisco, (2) you are the article’s corresponding author, and (3) you choose to publish your article open access in the Royal Society’s journals.  Authors affiliated with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are included in the agreement.

If you want to publish your article open access in Royal Society journals, UC has negotiated a deal that will make it more cost effective for you to do so. If you want to publish in Society journals but do not want to publish open access, you can still publish your article as paywalled (pay-to-read or subscription only) content in Society journals. 

UC faculty, lecturers, staff, and students on nine campuses (other than UC San Francisco) will continue to have reading access to all of the Society’s journals.

Only corresponding authors are covered by the publishing aspects of this agreement. 

Who is considered a corresponding author?

The Royal Society considers the corresponding author to be the person listed as the contact person during the submission/production/publication process, and who is identified as “Author for correspondence” on the final published article.

In general, 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 acts as the point of contact for any inquiries after the paper is published.

Which articles and types of publications are covered by this agreement?

All articles in Royal Society journals are covered by this agreement. 

The agreement  will apply to articles accepted from January 1, 2021,  through December 31, 2023. 

For articles accepted after January 1, 2021 but before the launch of this workflow March 9, 2021, the Royal Society will reach out to authors to ask them retrospectively about this choice, and the steps will follow as laid out below under “Article Payment Process.”

Which Royal Society journals are included in this agreement?

All of Royal Society’s journals are included with the exception of Biographical Memoirs. A complete listing of the Society’s journals is located here

Article Payment Process

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

The way the process works for authors who wish to publish open access with financial support from UC libraries:

  • Indicate UC affiliation
    • At submission corresponding authors will be asked to identify their affiliation, and UC authors should indicate their association with UC.  
  • Select option for UC support for open access article processing fees
    • Authors will be provided with an option that says article processing fees are covered by a special agreement.  
      • There will be a radio button for the University of California. UC corresponding authors who wish to publish open access with financial support from the UC libraries should select that option. 
  • Respond to email from Royal Society regarding use of research funds for part of the article processing charge (APC)
    • RS will reach out to authors who choose the open access option by email to ask whether they have research funds available to pay the author’s portion of the article processing charge. The total amount of the APC and the amount of financial support the UC libraries are providing will be indicated.  
    • Authors will need to indicate whether they have research funds available to pay the remaining balance of the APC, or whether they do not have such funds available and need the UC libraries to cover the remaining balance.
      • If an author indicates research funds are not available for the balance of the article processing charge:
        • The author will be asked to identify the reason full funding from the UC libraries is needed, from a set of reasons (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.)   
        • The author will not be invoiced. The request will be reviewed and, if approved, the charge will be paid in full by the UC libraries. Authors will be contacted if an appropriate UC affiliation cannot be verified.
      • If an author indicates research funds are available, the author will be invoiced for the remaining balance of the APC.

What if I don't have a grant or other research funds?

  • If you don’t have research funds and you want to publish open access, the libraries will pay your full article processing charge. See above under “if I choose to publish open access, how do payments work?”

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

  • Yes. Where and how you publish is your decision. The agreement with Royal Society does not mandate open access publishing, nor does it dictate your journal selection. Rather, it makes the open access publishing option for Society journals more affordable. You can opt out. 


What if I have questions or need help?