Advocacy Research project

Monitoring agreements with Open Access elements: why article-level metadata are important

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. On 26 November 2019 an article was published in Insights which details the research undertaken by the Monitoring OA task and finish group. Below is a summary of the research undertaken.

The number of publishers’ agreements with Open Access (OA) elements has been increasing in the last few years. Studies are showing the importance of collecting article-level metadata from publishers. Consortia and academic institutions need to collect article-level metadata to monitor the number of OA publications, their costs and the value of agreements with OA elements. Research funders are requesting publishers to account for the increasing number of OA articles they fund.

The Knowledge Exchange (KE) Monitoring OA group analysed twelve major publishers’ agreements in the six KE countries to assess 1) what article-level metadata consortia and academic institutions request from publishers and 2) what metadata publishers provide to them. The group used the Knowledge Exchange (KE) and the Efficiency and Standards for Article Charges (ESAC) initiative recommendations as a check-list to assess what metadata is requested from publishers and what metadata they provide in practice (Figure 1).

Figure 1: OA article-level metadata criteria by theme

The study showed that none of the consortia agreements requested all the metadata recommended by KE and ESAC. It also showed that overall, consortia asked for more metadata than publishers provided (Figure 2). Importantly, none of the publishers provided all the metadata requested by consortia (nor recommended by KE and ESAC). Publishers also did not deliver exactly the same metadata across countries.

Figure 2: OA article-level metadata criteria results

To promote the consistent delivery of article-level metadata by publishers, the KE Monitoring OA group repurposed the article-level metadata check-list as a template for publishers to use as a reporting tool. The template informs consortia and academic institutions about what metadata to request from publishers. It also enables them to monitor publishers’ compliance with the terms of consortia licensing agreements, to monitor publication numbers, costs, and compliance with funders’ OA policies. Article-level metadata collected by consortia and academic institutions enables them to benchmark how publishers are performing across countries as well as to promote cross-country data analysis and storage of article-level metadata in international databases.

Download the article-level metadata template from

Download the peer-reviewed article from

Members of the KE Monitoring OA task & finish group:

Mafalda Marques, Jisc (lead expert)
Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer, Leiden University Libraries
Arja Tuuliniemi, National Library of Finland
Dr Hildergard Schaeffler, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Anette Schneider, Technical University of Denmark
Jean-François Lutz, University of Lorraine
Frank Manista, Jisc
Anna Mette Morthorst, DAFSHE / Knowledge Exchange lead
Josefine Nordling, CSC – IT Center for Science / Knowledge Exchange co-lead

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