The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 30/11/2021

Q: What is the Framework for Provider Agreements and why is it important to us?
A: The Framework for Provider Agreements (FPA) is a set of principles to guide the UMass Amherst Libraries when they are working with resource providers (e.g., journal publishers, monograph publishers, data repositories, platforms, infrastructure, etc.).

The FPA also serves as a public declaration relating to the Libraries’ goal of moving towards a more financially sustainable, diverse, accessible, and open system of scholarly communication. We engage in these efforts not only as consumers of intellectual products but also as creators and evaluators.

We also recognize that procedures and expectations can vary among academic disciplines, so the principles are meant to be taken as a guide rather than a rigid set of rules.

Q: Are other research universities engaged in similar efforts?
Several other universities have also established similar frameworks, guidelines, and strategies:

Q: Does the FPA restrict where we can publish?
A: No, the FPA does not require that anyone publish in particular outlets, nor does it restrict publishing in particular outlets. However, it does include by reference the University of Massachusetts Amherst Open Access Policy, whereby faculty members and graduate students grant the university a license to deposit their scholarly articles in the institutional repository, ScholarWorks, to promote dissemination of research. (See also the Open Access Policy FAQ.) This is known as Green Open Access.

Q: Does the FPA mean we get to keep our copyrights?
A: The FPA does not require or ensure that authors retain their copyrights, although that would be ideal. It is the author’s responsibility to negotiate their rights. However, it does include the principle that providers should offer UMass authors’ works under a public license such as Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation License. It also restricts the publisher’s ability to require UMass authors to waive their rights under the UMass Open Access Policy (see Q3).

For more information about publisher contracts and copyright, please contact the Office of Scholarly Communication at

Q: How would this Framework affect my access to the Libraries’ holdings in my research areas?
A: The Libraries make every effort to provide access to journals and resources that are considered essential in a field. In the vast majority of cases the Libraries will continue to subscribe to or purchase these materials, however in certain cases this may not be possible due to financial or other considerations. In such an event, the Libraries will consult with affected faculty about suitable alternatives.

Materials may still be requested via Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery.

Q: Will this Framework change my relationship to the journals on whose editorial or advisory boards I serve?
No, the FPA does not restrict researchers from serving on editorial boards, nor does it change the nature of any existing relationships between faculty and the journals they work with. The FPA relates  to the Libraries’ relationship with resource providers. Should researchers wish to promote these Principles in their roles as editors or reviewers, the Libraries are available as a resource.

Q: If I would like for the Libraries to buy certain books that are relevant to my research and teaching areas, how would this Framework change my ability to make such requests?
A: Singular purchases of digital and physical books and other materials will not generally be affected by the FPA. Rather, the focus of the FPA is with publishers of journals and books and collections of these materials.

Q: Many professional societies rely on journal subscriptions to finance their activities. How will this Framework affect these professional associations?
A: While the FPA is meant to provide consistency in how the Libraries invest in access to scholarly materials, the principles are guidelines and not requirements. The Libraries are cognizant of and sensitive to the financial position of smaller and non-profit publishers. The financial viability of small publishers and professional societies is in the interests of the Libraries and UMass Amherst scholars. The Libraries will work with them towards mutually beneficial relationships.

Q: How can submitters look out for predatory and unethical publishers?
A: There is not one easy answer to the question of which journals and publishers are predatory or unethical and which ones are ethical. Lists of “good” and “bad” publishers are dynamic and subject to debate. Instead, those interested can refer to this guide on predatory publishers or ask their library liaison to help evaluate journals, conferences, or information providers.

Q: How does the Framework affect tenure and promotion processes?
A: Tenure and promotion are the subjects of each departments’ guidelines and personnel committees; they are not directly addressed in the Framework. The Framework does advocate for UMass Amherst researchers to have better access to and use of others’ scholarship and for authors to retain the rights to their works. These rights facilitate research.

Q; I have more questions. Where can I go for additional information?
For more information, please see the Open Scholarship & Scholarly Publishing Library Guide. You can also contact the Scholarly Communications Department, at