Why article-level metadata is important to monitor agreements





Transformative agreements, Open access, Monitoring open access


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The Knowledge Exchange (KE) Monitoring Open Access (OA) task and finish group has undertaken research on agreements with OA elements (e.g. agreements with APC discounts, offsetting agreements, read and publish agreements) set between consortia from KE countries and major publishers between 2016 and early 2019. It assessed agreements with OA elements to investigate what OA article-level metadata consortia request from publishers and what metadata publishers deliver to consortia.

With more academic publishing agreements including OA elements, publishers must account for the articles published OA. For example, article processing charges may be paid directly by authors, institutions or research funders and the paying entity has the right to know what research it has funded. Another example includes agreements with a cap on the number of articles that can be published OA. In these cases, consortia and institutions must monitor how many articles are being published OA and they can only do so if publishers deliver OA article-level metadata reports on a regular basis.

With Plan S research funders requiring a full transition to OA by 2021, the delivery of OA metadata becomes critical to monitor publishers’ compliance with Plan S requirements for transformative arrangements.

In its research, the KE Monitoring OA group used recommendations issued by KE and the Efficiency and Standards for Article Charges (ESAC) initiative to develop a list of OA article-level metadata to evaluate if consortia requested OA metadata and if publishers delivered it. The research findings showed that not all consortia agreements requested the OA metadata as recommended by KE and ESAC. Most importantly, none of the publishers provided all the metadata that the consortia requested. Publishers also did not deliver exactly the same OA metadata across countries and this may be due lack of consistency in their practices.

The research findings can be used as a benchmark to monitor how major publishers were performing in KE countries until early 2019 and prior to Plan S comes into effect in 2021. To assist in the process OA metadata collection, the KE Monitoring OA task and finish group created a template based on the KE and ESAC recommendations that consortia can use as a guideline for what OA metadata to request from publishers and that publishers can use as a reporting tool.

Author Biographies

Mafalda Marques, Jisc

Research Analyst

Anna Mette Morthorst, Aarhus University

Librarian, Open Access coordinator

Frank Manista, Jisc

European open science manager


Stern, Niels (2017) Knowledge Exchange consensus on monitoring Open Access publications and cost data. Report from workshop held in Copenhagen 29-30 November 2016. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.480852

Geschuhn, Kai, and Graham Stone. 2017. “It’s the Workflows, Stupid! What Is Required to Make ‘offsetting’ Work for the Open Access Transition”. Insights 30 (3): 103–14. https://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.391

“The Plan S Principles,” cOALition S, accessed 14 August 2019, https://www.coalition-s.org/principles-and-implementation/