ESAC Reference Guide to Transformative Agreements: Implementation

After successfully conducting the negotiations, and settling on the terms of an agreement, you will have to ratify the outcomes in a written contract, put into practice new workflows and processes—both internally and with the publisher, and establish mechanisms for ongoing monitoring and assessment of the agreement.

Your experience with these elements will also serve to inform the next negotiation cycle or phase in your transition strategy, building on the outcomes you—and others—have achieved and acknowledging shifts in the landscape that have occurred as transformative agreements proliferate and the proportion of articles published openly in hybrid journals increases.


Agreement terms

Your negotiation principles and goals will most certainly influence the nature of your agreement, which can be more or less restrictive or generous. Nevertheless, how you define terms such as eligible authors, article types, and relevant dates (date of article submission, date of article acceptance, date of publication) is of paramount importance, as they have enormous impact on the efficiency of the workflows which will bring the conditions and services negotiated to fruition.

Transitional by nature, transformative agreements expand the scope of former subscription contracts to include open access publishing, so the terms of traditional subscription licenses must likewise be expanded. The following list explains some core terms that transformative agreements should include, in addition to access-related terms (authentication, perpetual access terms, KBART standard title lists relevant for your reading access entitlements, COUNTER compliant usage reports, Text and Data Mining, data protection, etc.).

This list of open access publishing terms builds largely on the ESAC Workflow Recommendations for Transformative Agreements and Sample agreement terms, the Checklist for Open Access terms in Publisher Agreements with Nordic Consortia, Managing OA publishing in transitional agreements by Jisc, and the SPA-OPS – Transformative Agreement Toolkit by Information Power.

Purpose of the agreement

Eligible authors

Article types

Relevant dates for eligibility

Journals eligible for OA publishing

Changes to the journal portfolio

Open access publishing entitlements

Fee structure and payment schedule

Per-article fees and APCs

Mechanisms to ensure sustainability and mitigate potential financial risks

Discounts and waivers applied outside of the agreement

Refunding APCs paid outside of the agreement

Additional fees and services

Author identification parameters

OA publishing options (default OA)

Open licenses choices for articles

Changing licenses of published articles

Notifications and verification

Publisher reporting

Customer tool/Dashboard/Account

Metadata delivery to relevant third parties

Article delivery (i.e. repositories)

Open Access funding acknowledgement

Transparency, no non-disclosure

Responsibilities of the publisher

Responsibilities of the institution


Level of service

Availability of content



For thorough guidance on workflows, check out the ESAC Workflow Recommendations and the 2021 Enhancements, produced by the agreement implementation subgroup, for more information on the operational aspects of managing your agreement.

The international ESAC library and consortium community, together with other partners in the scholarly communication ecosystem, continues to share experiences and promote good practice around the key workflow touch points that determine the success of a transformative or central open access publishing agreement: author identification, eligibility, verification, reporting, payment, monitoring and quality control.

Contact ESAC if you would like to get involved and to share your questions and suggestions.


Monitoring and assessment

The key drivers of transformation presented in the How Transformative Is it framework can help shape your approach to monitoring and assessment of your agreement; and, naturally, how you measure the progress and outcomes of your agreement will depend on the specific principles and objectives you define for your negotiations. Here are just a few aspects you might consider when developing metrics or KPIs to assess your agreements and their impact:

  • Author take-up of the open access publishing opportunity secured through the agreement
  • Proportion of the institution or consortium’s output with the publisher that is published openly
  • Comparison of agreement costs with previous expenditure to determine the entity of cost avoidance of APCs in the wild
  • Usage and altmetrics
  • Administrative efforts

You may take inspiration from a variety of reports and updates publicly shared by many libraries and library consortia, and appropriately formatted for the relevant stakeholder audience. For example, here is a brief executive summary assessment by the German Rectors’ Conference of the first year of the DEAL-Wiley agreement. A series of annual reports from the Bibsam Consortium in Sweden and from Jisc in the UK provide an assessment of their first “offset” agreement with Springer Nature. Here are examples of some highly-visual, web-based national-level open access monitoring reports in the Netherlands and Finland. This Science Europe Briefing Paper on Open Access Monitoring provides some insightful recommendations on the key questions that research organizations should answer in order to develop a plan and criteria for monitoring their progress in the open access transition, generally.

Again, contact ESAC if you would like to get involved and to share your questions and suggestions.


Also on this Reference Guide: Preparation | Negotiation