ESAC Reference Guide to Transformative Agreements: Preparation

In this section, we introduce the core elements involved in preparing for transformative agreement negotiations and share some strategic considerations for institutions and consortia.


Derive key insights based on data

In order to prepare and conduct negotiations that result in agreements that effectively and successfully fulfill their transformative potential, you will need to have a clear picture of your current position and the capacity to model potential outcomes—in terms of both projected costs and open access publishing services secured. To achieve these, there are key data points that you can collect and analyze and from which you can derive key insights to inform your approach.

Gather your publication data

Gather your expenditure data

Extract key insights from the data

Key references


Engage stakeholders and plan communications

Just as transformative agreements bring together the two sides of scholarly publishing (reading and publishing), they are also an opportunity for libraries to bring together and align the different stakeholders involved: faculty and university leadership. Sharing the insights gained in the publication and expenditure data analysis with people from outside the library or consortium offices can help in building strong coalitions within with your communities and garnering support for your negotiation strategy. After all, the open access publishing rights secured through your transformative or open access agreements help your institution fulfill its mission, increasing the visibility and impact of the research of your scholars and scientists.

By working together with a broad set of stakeholders in the early stages of developing your approach, it is easier to arrive at a framework for negotiations that is embraced across the institution, and it empowers you with greater leverage, knowing that you represent your entire community in your negotiations.

Build coalitions and alignment

Engage stakeholders in negotiations

Plan for communications

Key references


Understand your negotiation counterparts and the current environment

Gathering, analyzing and discussing data relative to your institution with stakeholders will form the basis of your strategy, but there is another side to the coin in terms of preparing for negotiations. Meeting the publishers at eye-level means familiarizing yourself with the scholarly communication environment and their position in it. In this way, you can anticipate the position of your counterparts, of what they might want to obtain from the negotiations, and it will help you to better position yourself at the negotiating table.

Understand the scholarly publishing market in transition

Gain strategic insight on the publisher’s market position

Learn from the experience and benchmarks of your peers

Key references


Defining your approach to transformative agreement negotiations

Ideally, your approach to transformative agreement negotiations will synthesize the lessons learned by analyzing your own data, gathering an understanding of the scholarly communications landscape, and collecting perspectives from stakeholders. Your current level of subscription spending, the relative volume of the publications of your researchers, and your institution’s core values and commitment to open access to research will all contribute to formulating your negotiation approach, establishing criteria for evaluating proposals, and, essentially, defining what you consider to be a successful outcome in terms of both service and cost.

Some may opt for a consolidated approach, seeking transformative agreements with all relevant publishers as each subscription agreement comes up for renewal and, potentially, taking advantage of variance in their spending/publishing with different publishers to balance their overall strategy. Others may begin by piloting negotiations with just one or two publishers, in order to gain experience and build up capacity for the open access transition. Ultimately, transformative agreements are not just an instrument to drive publishers to transition their journals to open access. They are, equally, a framework for libraries, institutions and national research communities to reorganize their subscription-based processes and financial investments, so that the money currently locked-up in pre-paid subscription agreements is disaggregated and can follow authors where they wish to openly disseminate their papers.

Defining your negotiation principles

Modeling costs for the open access transition

Planning for the reorganization of financial streams

Key references


Also on this Reference Guide: Negotiation | Implementation