Hybrid OA and Transformative Journals

Kyle Brady
Tuesday 23 August 2022

“The University of St Andrews will continue to implement a ‘no hybrid’ approach”

Springer Nature (SN) and Jisc recently announced the successful application for Jisc-approved Transformative Journal (TJ) status for Nature Research and Palgrave titles, meaning that UKRI and other funders can now technically accept open access Article Processing Charges (APC) for SN hybrid journals such as Nature that are covered by this TJ status. This is in addition to the option of a compliant ‘green’ route available to UKRI-funded authors in these titles. However, the University of St Andrews will continue to implement a ‘no hybrid APC’ approach. This policy has always been in place for the Institutional Open Access Fund, has been in place for UKRI OA Block Grant since 2017, and theno-hybrid’ approach now extends to Transformative Journals’. Although these may differ from hybrid journals in that they usually must meet certain criteria set by research funders (see Plan S or Jisc guidance for instance) TJs are still Hybrid, and therefore fall into the existing hybrid APC approach.

This ‘no-hybrid’ approach is consistent with the institutional preference for Green open access where possible, and the sustainable use of funds. In support of this we recently introduced updated guidance on Rights Retention – to better enable our researchers to meet institutional and funder OA requirements. We are also in the process of drafting a revised OA Policy to extend this commitment to Green OA.

Note this ‘no-hybrid’ approach applies to individual APC claims for TJs, not publishing costs in hybrid journals covered by a Transformative Agreement. These agreements are negotiated nationally and aim to constrain costs by combining subscriptions with open access publishing.


Here is a bit of background on the topic of transformative journals and where they fit in the OA landscape:

The Open Access landscape has historically been characterised by the ‘Green’ / ‘Gold’ split.

  • Green: open access achieved by depositing the article (usually the accepted manuscript) in a repository.
  • Gold: open access via the publisher (and repository), usually involving a fee, although ‘Diamond OA’ journals where no fees are payable are becoming increasingly common.

Journals that offer Gold open access are split into ‘Hybrid’ and ‘Fully Open Access’ journals.

  • Fully open access: journals that exclusively publish open access content, and therefore no subscriptions apply.
  • Hybrid: journals that charge for ad hoc open access articles, as well as subscriptions to paywalled content.

Many research funders now explicitly refuse to pay hybrid OA charges, see Plan S principle #8. However UKRI and other funders have also made concessions for what are known as ‘transformative journals’.

Institutional discretion in how to best use open access funding is still allowed and alignment with institutional best practice and values is encouraged, therefore the decision was made to continue to decline Hybrid APCs and to include TJs in this approach for consistency and clarity.


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