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The 2020 Jisc-Wiley transitional agreement – has it achieved its aims over the first year?

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

In this post, we take a look at the key findings from the 2021 collaborative white paper from Jisc and Wiley on the open access publishing transition for the Jisc-Wiley Read and Publish agreement in its first year:

Anna Vernon, Amy Devenney, Natasha White, Thomas Gaston, and Lou Peck, (2021)

The Jisc-Wiley Read and Publish agreement, signed in February 2020 and launched in March 2020, enables researchers from participating UK institutions to publish open access articles, with no embargo periods, in over 1,400 hybrid open access journals and over 230 fully open access journals. The agreement also means the same institutions have complete access to all content published in over 1,480 subscription journals.

This agreement was designed to reduce both cost and administration time for institutions and their researchers. In addition to these benefits, the agreement also helps institutions to ensure they are meeting existing funder requirements around open access.

This white paper presents an analysis of the first year’s data of the Jisc-Wiley four-year Read and Publish agreement. It looks at whether the agreement has been successful in achieving the three core aims in 2020 with key highlights. Our CEO, Lou Peck was a co-author of this white paper with Jisc and Wiley colleagues to bring in an external industry viewpoint.

It is worth noting, as the white paper states, that:

...the COVID-19 pandemic initiated a substantial increase in submissions and publications by academics worldwide. UK submissions with Wiley were up 26% and publication was increased by 13%. This resulted in a proportion of articles by authors from subscribing institutions that fell outside the available publishing pot. Therefore, institutions either declined to fund open access publishing for these articles or had to draw on their own reserves (either credit accounts or pre-pay accounts) to fund the publication of 430 open access articles during 2020 (392 articles were processed through credit accounts and 38 articles through pre-pay accounts).

What are the core aims of the agreement?

The Jisc-Wiley Read and Publish agreement has three core aims:

  1. To contain the costs of publication and subscription access for institutions

  2. To reduce cost and administration barriers to hybrid open access publishing and support compliance with UK funder policies

  3. To increase the number of open access articles

What are the key findings from the first year of this Read and Publish agreement?

Four red ticks on a blue background

The report declares that the Jisc-Wiley agreement has achieved each of the three core aims over the course of the first year and acknowledges accelerating the open access UK research output.

Let's explore how these aims have been achieved.

1. To contain the costs of publication and subscription access for institutions

  • By having a fixed fee and moving spend on subscription titles to instead fund publishing activity, overall subscription costs have decreased.

  • The overall consortium cost per download has decreased by 34% from 2019 (cost per download (CPD) £0.71) to 2020 (CPD £0.47).

  • It is projected that there are further savings through more licensed content becoming available, therefore reducing the number of interlibrary loans needed, but there are no confirmed methods to demonstrate this yet.

  • Over this first year participating UK institutions published open access articles to the value of £15,091,990 but were not charged above the initial £5,419,216 paid for publishing, avoiding costs of £9,672,744.

2. To reduce cost and administration barriers to hybrid open access publishing and support compliance with UK funder policies

  • By creating a central publishing fund, made up of previous article publication charge (APC) expenditure and subscription expenditure, the agreement has made hybrid publishing more affordable.

  • 153 UK institutions were part of the Jisc-Wiley agreement in 2020. 114 institutions are now publishing open access with Wiley compared to 2019 with nine institutions who approved open access for the very first time in 2020.

  • 84% of Jisc institutions increased their published open access output in 2020 compared to 2019.

  • 82% of articles were chosen to be open access.

  • The author’s open access opt-out rate was 18%.

  • Over three quarters (79%) of authors chose CC BY with the second choice CC BY-NC-ND being selected by only 10% of authors.

  • In previous years, the majority of citations have been to subscription articles, because the majority of articles have been subscription articles. However, with the growth in open access articles, the gap is closing.

  • There were 24,435,883 accesses to full text HTML and PDF across participating institutions in 2020.

3. To increase the number of open access articles

  • 6,623 articles were accepted for publication in 2020 (215 further articles were under review in fully open access journals thus increasing the number to 6,838 approved for APC payment in 2020).

  • Prior to this Read and Publish agreement, Jisc institutions were already publishing around 24% (3,180) of articles as open access with the previous Jisc-Wiley Open Access Offset agreement.

  • The number of published open access articles increased by 68% (2,121) from 2019 to 2020, rising from 3,099 to 5,220.

  • Nearly double the number of articles were published as open access (hybrid and fully open access) in 2020 with the average year on year increase across 2018, 2019 and 2020 for open access articles at 33%.


This collaborative white paper between Jisc, Wiley, and ourselves acting as an external viewpoint, clearly demonstrates the success the agreement has had in meeting their three core aims over the first year. However, with the effects of the "COVID-19 bump" hard to quantify, it will be interesting to discover how this agreement continues in future years with a more even playing field.

This Read and Publish agreement has brought significant benefits to the institutions and researchers involved by making hybrid and open access publishing both more affordable and more efficient, helping save valuable resources. By working together, Jisc and Wiley are able to develop and refine processes and adapt these agreements to real-life scenarios making them truly transitional. The agreement continues to be monitored and we look forward to seeing how it progresses especially with future developments in the research landscape.

Did you find this white paper summary useful? If you have any questions or comments, do please let us know in the comments section and share online.

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