Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Agreement ID acm2020cdl
Agreement labeling ACM Open
Has the agreement been disclosed and published? Yes
Agreement period 01/01/2020 – 12/31/2020
Consortia / Institution California Digital Library (University of California)
Country United States

Approximate range of annual corresponding author publications

Comments on size/article output The Agreement also includes open access for the final manuscripts of an additional approximately 60 articles per year by UC affiliated co-authors who are not the corresponding authors, via automatic deposit into the UC repository, eScholarship.

How do the costs of the agreement relate to previous subscription-only agreements with the publisher?

Cost increase
Comments on cost development This three-year pilot agreement does involve increased costs. UC was willing to take on these added costs because of several factors, including ACM’s commitment to overall cost neutrality (in the model, costs for institutions at lower publishing output tiers will go down over time as participation increases from campuses in the higher tiers), and the unique opportunities to broadly advance open access that are involved in the pilot:

  • The opportunity to work collaboratively with a significant scholarly society that is committed to a full flip to open access publishing through the model in 7-10 years, and to launch the model with three other collaborating universities, providing a sustainable pathway for ACM’s transition to open access;
  • Recognition that ACM’s subscription prices have been relatively low for many years in comparison with the value of the content and UC’s comparable spend with other publishers;
  • Understanding that the required expenditures, while higher than the subscription payments, are still relatively low in comparison with the value of the content, and in relation to UC’s overall spend; and
  • Testing new ways to mitigate the financial impact on research-intensive institutions of a full flip to OA, including: the creation of publishing output-based tiers, with generous ramp-up structures to reach price increases over the course of the agreement; providing incentives for smaller publishing output institutions to continue to contribute financially even when most content has shifted to OA; and pricing based more generally on publishing output and services, rather than tied to strict APC-based accounting, a model many would like to explore.

Transfomative agreements vary by their transformative mechanisms, meaning the way in which financing is shifted from the subscription side to open access publishing. What are the characteristics of this agreement to this regard?


The model involves a unitary an uncapped fee that covers both reading and publishing, without individual OA publishing fees.

How do entitlements for open access publishing correlate to the anticipated article output? Which mechanisms for risk sharing have been agreed in cases of exceeding or not reaching the number of OA publishing entitlements?

Fees are set for each of the three years of the contract term based on an analysis of recent publishing output. All publishing output during the term of the Agreement will be made Open Access, without further payment, regardless of any increase in publication volume. Should publication rates decrease, no compensation will be provided by ACM to CDL, but because of the deeply discounted pilot pricing this risk is contained significantly. Should publishing output change in either direction over the term of the Agreement, new data would be used to assign institutions to tiers in future iterations of the agreement.

Are all journals relevant to your affiliated authors (in which you expect them to publish) eligible for OA publishing under the agreement?

Are fully open access journals covered by the agreement? Yes
OA LICENSE CC-BY variations allowed
Original research articles
Review articles

What is the approximate share of access related costs of the overall agreement?


Are all read relevant journals covered by the agreement?

WORKFLOW ASSESSMENT Too early to assess
OVERALL ASSESSMENT AND COMMENTS This Agreement, which reflects a new OA business model that was co-created by ACM, UC, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Iowa State University, holds potential to advance ACM’s aim to flip entirely to OA in 7-10 years. If that aim is met, the agreement will have been a significant step in an overall transition to OA, particularly in demonstrating a successful transition by a scholarly society. A key question that is as yet unanswered is whether a substantial number of other subscribers– particularly research-intensive universities– will adopt the model. If so, this Agreement will have been influential in providing a path to shift a key scholarly society fully to OA publication. The pilot does leave another question open as well: to what degree cost sustainability can be fostered through the model’s methods for incentivizing financial participation among low publishing output institutions.
The model reflects an unusually close collaboration among universities and a scholarly society in co-creating an open access business model, and we want to thank ACM and all of the collaborators for their engaged and flexible partnership in devising a model that was determined to be viable for all stakeholders.
The license agreement was designed by the library partners and ACM in collaboration to serve as a model for other ACM Open pilot agreements. The license itself will soon be available at the CDL site, and is expected to be used by ACM as their model agreement for ACM Open.
Request contact to the licensee contact [at] esac-initiative [dot] org