Open Access: more than 2,000 articles published in 2022 through transformative agreements

UC published 241 under the b-on agreements, which became operational in August last year

Lorena Caliman
04 september, 2023≈ 4 min read

In 2022, 13,384 scientific articles were published in the national scientific production as counted by members of the Online Knowledge Library (b-on). Of these, 45 per cent were published in the gold open access model (immediate open access, generally with a fee for publication), 33 per cent in closed access, 13 per cent in other types of open access, and 10 per cent in hybrid journals.

These figures, published in the b-on report recently shared with its members, demonstrate the growing relevance that open access has acquired, taking into account Portugal's adherence to Plan S - which establishes that scientific results resulting from public funding must be available publicly and free of charge immediately.

To further encourage the growth of open access publications and improve the negotiating conditions between authors and scientific publishers, since last year b-on has had a series of contracts with transformative agreements: in other words, agreements that transform the subscription value paid to publishers to include open access publication aspects for authors affiliated with b-on member institutions, without the need to pay extra publication fees.

The agreements came into force in August 2022 and were negotiated for the three-year period up to 2024. Already in this first phase, the total number of articles published under the agreements has surpassed the mark of 2,000. The transformative agreements essentially cover articles in hybrid journals, and the agreements with publishers Elsevier and SAGE include discounts for publishing in gold-access journals.

The report also lists the 10 institutions with the highest absolute number of open access publications under the agreements. The University of Coimbra appears in third place on the list, with a total of 227 articles published in hybrid journals, and 14 articles in gold journals, totalling 241 articles published under the transformative agreements.

With regard to the licences used in publications, there was a greater use of more restrictive licences, with 63% of authors opting for the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence, versus 32% opting for the less restrictive CC-BY 4.0 licence. The most open licence recommended by Plan S is the CC-BY licence. The b-on report stresses that the choice of licences is individual and free on the part of authors, and that it is important to continue investing in disseminating information about the types of licences available to authors, monitoring with publishers how the different options are presented.

Plan S

Plan S was drawn up by Coalition S, made up of a group of international funders, and establishes that the scientific results resulting from funding by these providers must be made publicly and freely available immediately.

In January 2022, FCT updated the forecast of the Plan S implementation process until 1 July 2022, informing that it had set in motion a process leading to the implementation of transformative agreements, through the negotiation of contracts with the majority of b-on publishers for the three-year period 2022-2024.

According to the b-on report, the fulfilment of Plan S can be achieved through three different channels:

  • Publication in open access journals or platforms (gold model when a publication fee is paid, or diamond model when no payment is made by the author);
  • Publication in closed-access journals, with immediate availability of the accepted manuscript in an open access repository;
  • Open access publication in hybrid journals under a transformative agreement, i.e. without payment of a publication fee by the author or their institution.

Find out more about Open Access policies in Portugal: