Open Access Publishing: Transformative Agreement & Journal Selection

Along with the recent signature of transformative agreements between the HKU Libraries and two publishers, the Libraries is endeavoring to offer the best options for our authors to publish scholarly works in Open Access (OA). In this post, we would like to briefly introduce the new offers in scholarly publishing we brought to our authors and highlight a few areas that authors should be aware of when choosing journals for open access publishing.

Transformative Agreements (TA)

This type of agreement resulted from negotiations between libraries and publishers to enable inclusion of Article Processing Charge (APC) for open access publishing in the journal subscription fee, which means the subscription fee already paid by academic libraries will now cover the APC costs for researchers publishing in open access.

TAs are frequently referred as read-and-publish (R&P) or publish-and-read (P&R) agreements. Wise and Estelle (2019) also suggested a few more different models that may suit the term in their discussion paper. In R&P/P&R agreements, the original database reading subscription fee turned into an amount of aggregated fee, covering both access to subscription content and costs for OA publishing. It is a mechanism to make scholarly outputs OA if the corresponding author is affiliated with the subscribing institution (Farley et. al, 2021).

In our latest deals (R&P/P&R agreements) made with the Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Karger, HKU-affiliated corresponding authors can now enjoy full Article Processing Charge waivers for publishing articles in eligible open access and hybrid journals published by these two publishers. Articles will be published Gold Open Access with APC fully waived. The agreement period is from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2023. Please find more details on the agreement terms at our guide.

You could enjoy all benefits from OA publishing at no cost:

Source: JISC

Here comes to our first publication written by HKU-affiliated corresponding author published under the CUP TA agreement, in full Open Access with APC fully waived:

Lee, T. K. (2022). Spiaking Singlish: The politics of ludic English in Singapore. Language in Society, 1-21.

As of 07 April 2022, there are already 5 accepted papers written by HKU scholars got published under the CUP TA agreement. They are all published in full Open Access with APC fully waived for the corresponding authors.

Green Open Access v.s. Gold Open Access

The Gold Open Access option is always the most recommended option as it ensures your work in the final published version can be freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. You are advised to consider and decide which route you would like to go at the early stage of publishing. Comparisons are listed in the below table:

Green Open AccessGold Open Access
TimelinessEmbargoed for a periodImmediate
Fee and ChargesNo chargesAPC charged
VersionFinal author version (peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript)Final publisher’s version
LocationInstitutional Repository (IR) or disciplinary repositoryPublisher’s website

Choosing the right journal

Once authors decide to publish their work Open Access, the next challenge will be choosing a suitable journal for publication. When you encountered a journal or publisher that you have never heard before or barely knew, you may take a few steps in checking its legitimacy:

Spotting the predatory publishers

Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices (Grudniewicz et al., 2019).

Before submitting papers for publication, it is important for authors to ensure the publishers/journals are trustworthy. The below listed a few selected suggestions made by an American librarian Jeffrey Beall (2015) on how to spot predatory publishers:

  • The publisher engages in excessive use of spam email to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships.
  • The publisher falsely claims one or more of its journals have actual impact factors, or advertises impact factors assigned by fake “impact factor” services, or it uses some made up measure (e.g. view factor), feigning/claiming an exaggerated international standing.
  • The publisher does not use standard identifiers such as ISSNs or DOIs or uses them improperly.
  • The journal does not identify a formal editorial / review board.
  • Demonstrates a lack of transparency in publishing operations.
  • The publisher falsely claims to have its content indexed in legitimate abstracting and indexing services or claims that its content is indexed in resources that are not abstracting and indexing services.
  • Provides insufficient information or hides information about author fees.

In addition to the above recommendations, when assessing OA publishers and journals, you may also check the qualities of the articles, members of the editorial board, publisher’s rejection rates, and the reputations of the journals/publishers. You may consider contacting the declared editorial board member for checking the legitimacy of his/her affiliation if in doubt.

More tactics in identifying predatory publishers and evaluating OA journals are available at:
Think.Check.Submit (
Indiana University Library Research Guides (

For questions, please get in touch with us at


Beall, J. (2015). Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers.
Farley, A., Langham-Putrow, A., Shook, E., Sterman, L. B., & Wacha, M. (2021). Transformative agreements: Six myths, busted. College & Research Libraries News, 82(7), 298-301.
Wise, A. & Estelle, L. (2019): Towards transition strategies and business models for Society Publishers who wish to accelerate Open Access and Plan S. Wellcome Trust. Online resource.