May 25, 2022

cOAlition S Endorses Support For Transformative Journals, Revised Criteria Released

From cOAlition S:

cOAlition S endorses several strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to full and immediate Open Access (OA), with a business model where fees are levied for providing publishing services rather than subscription fees for reading. Under this model all published research articles can be freely accessed, read and built upon.

Referred to as “Transformative Arrangements” these approaches include Transformative Agreements (typically Read & Publish or Publish & Read agreements), Transformative Model Agreements and Transformative Journals. In this framework, cOAlition S defines a Transformative Journal as “a subscription/hybrid journal that is committed to transitioning to a fully (OA) journal. In addition, a Transformative Journal must gradually increase the share of Open Access content and offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments)”.

Following a review of the responses to a public consultation, and cognisant of the ambition to provide researchers funded by a member of cOAlition S with the opportunity to continue publishing results in a wide variety of journals, whilst ensuring that the version of record is fully Open Access, we have made several changes and simplifications to the way we define a Transformative Journal. Specifically, we have:

  • changed the threshold when a journal must flip to full Open Access from 50% of to 75% and removed the commitment to flip by December 2024. In making these changes, however, we have stressed that publishers must explicitly state their commitment to transition to full Open Access and that our support for this model (in terms of paying for publishing services in subscription journals) will cease at the end of 2024;
  • reduced the annual growth target for the proportion of content which must be published in Open Access from 8% to at least 5% in absolute terms and at least 15% in relative terms, year-on-year;
  • simplified the guidance and removed all the “recommended additional criteria”. As such, the guidance is now expressed in just six paragraphs.

Other criteria which a Transformative Journal must adhere to include:

  • implementing transparent pricing for the OA content published under this model and ensure that institutions purchasing a subscription to a TJ will pay only for remaining subscription content and
  • agreeing to provide an annual public report to cOAlition S, reporting on progress and demonstrating compliance with the requirements for TJs. This report must provide information on the usage – including downloads, citations, altmetric data – of OA articles compared with the subscription content.

Prof. John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and co-chair of the cOAlition S Implementation Task Force commented: “We believe Transformative Journals, along with other Transformative Arrangements, provide a means by which subscription publishers can develop Open Access models which adhere to the requirements of Plan S, in a cost-neutral, sustainable way. We hope that subscription publishers will consider using this model”.

Publishers who wish to develop a Plan S compliant Transformative Journal should complete the form at



Revised ‘Transformative Journal’ Criteria From cOAlition S are “Challenging” but Springer Nature Commits to Transition Majority of Journals, including Nature (April 8. 2020)

See Also: In an Open Letter, Springer Nature Requests Coalition S Not “Lose the Opportunity Transformative Journals Offer (12/2019)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.