Analyzing the Projekt DEAL and Wiley Transformative Agreement

In January 2019, publisher John Wiley & Sons and the German university consortium Projekt DEAL announced a three-year agreement that provides all Projekt DEAL institutions with access to read Wiley’s academic journals back to the year 1997 as well as allows researchers at Projekt DEAL institutions to publish open access articles in Wiley’s journals. A Projekt DEAL representative said, “it is revolutionary that we are taking this path to an open access publication practice together with Wiley.”

Christopher Kenneally led a deep dive into this transformative agreement during an October 17, 2019 panel at Frankfurt Book Fair. Speakers included:

  • Deirdre Silver, Associate General Counsel (Global), VP of Legal, Research for John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Dr. Ralf Schimmer, Head of Information and Deputy Director, Max Planck Digital Library

Prefer to stream? Listen to this episode of Beyond the Book.

View the full transcript here.


SCHIMMER: Community building is important when you want to organize something that has consequence. And what can have more consequence when you reorganize the flow of money from one mode of operating to a new mode of operating? So to talk about this is easy, to get it done is quite difficult. In that, the historic landmark project was SCOAP3. SCOAP3 took many years to get started, and it got started officially in 2014, but SCOAP3 helped to create networks in all countries that have research in the world. We are libraries, funders, research learned societies, maybe government agencies, work together to reorganize the flow from what was previously spent through subscriptions onto a logic of paying for publications.

SCOAP3 set the precedent, and that was taken up as an idea with the question, how can this be deployed on a larger scale? And the OA2020 is just the next step in that development to exploit on those communities, on those networks to bring them together, but just with a larger focus, and to go through negotiations and provide open access coming from subscription, redirecting that money, and have more open access as a consequence.

KENNEALLY: But it’s not just a community of like-minded people. DEAL, itself, is a legal entity, and that’s a critical difference, too, right?

SCHIMMER: Well, DEAL – the name DEAL, the concept DEAL is not a legal entity. DEAL is a self-organized bottom-up initiative of the alliance of research organizations in Germany. It is not a government mandate or something behind, it’s really self-organized. The question was if we want to find a solution with larger publishers, what do we have to do? And the answer was we have consortia in the country, but we need an approach that is higher than consortia. We need to find an all-in way of making negotiations, and that, in the end, had also the consequence that a separate legal entity had to be founded. This legal entity is MPDL Services GmbH, but DEAL is the umbrella name. It’s the concept and the alliance behind MPDL Servics. It’s just the operating entity and the legal entity to do the contracting and organize all the operations.

SILVER: When you’re doing an agreement, you obviously need a counterpart to work with in terms of ensuring that there’s control over the funding. But also there are so many changes in workflow that need to happen in order to make a transformative agreement work. So you need to know that you have a partner that is able to work through all those complicated details to ensure that all of the researchers that should be covered by the agreement are properly identified and included in the process. So you need to have someone on the other side to work with closely, and MPDL has been an amazing partner in that.

KENNEALLY: To the extent that you can talk about negotiations, which is always difficult, this session that we are having today at Frankfurt Book Fair is meant as a way for others who may find themselves in similar negotiations to pick up some learning and to maybe take home some tips as far as how they should prepare. Can you talk about the work that was involved before you even really sat down to come to terms? There’s a lot that needs to be looked at here, because it’s financial, it’s your relationship with researchers and the authors – it’s quite a daunting task, I imagine.

SILVER: Yeah, of course it is in everyone’s interest to have a sustainable system for the dissemination of sound research. In order to have that, you, of course, have to look at the financial aspects of any arrangement you’re entering into, both with respect to the market that you’re looking at here in Germany during the term but also after the term – what it will mean after the term, as well as what are the impacts on other markets? As I already alluded to, you also have to think through all of the changes in workflow, both changes that you need to make internally, but also connections with partners and member institutions for how the operation of the deal will operate because there’s a constant work hand in hand that goes on to make sure that all of those changes in workflow are smoothly done so researchers have a positive experience.

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Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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