Transfer FAQ

What is in the Transfer Code of Practice?

The Transfer Code is a NISO recommended practice to ensure continuing access to journals when titles transfer from one publisher to another. Publishers who sign on to endorse and follow the recommended practice are considered Transfer compliant. The Code includes:

  • Transferring publisher responsibilities
  • Receiving publisher responsibilities
  • Details on how to communicate and transfer:
  • Digital assets
  • Access rights (such as subscriber lists)
  • Usage data
  • URLs
  • Perpetual access arrangements
  • ISSN/DOI information

The Code was created and is continuously improved by representatives from key stakeholders involved in journal transfers, and is a practical and concise set of instructions for publishers. It prefers clear responsibilities and communications over being prescriptive.

Who should read the Code?

While publishers are asked to endorse and follow the Code, librarians, owning societies, and other third-parties are strongly encouraged to read it. This enables an understanding of what they can/should expect to hold publishers to account for over a transition; and they may also potentially want to include a reference to compliance with the Code in their publisher agreements.

How does it assist in the 'transfer' process?

By covering best practice guidelines for publishers to follow, the Code helps them to ensure that key activities are addressed effectively and consistently. This helps both smaller publishers – which may have few transfer scenarios – and larger publishers which require regular processes to set-up at scale. For publishers of any size, having a clear description of roles and responsibilities between the transferring and receiving party is key. For librarians this should mean a smoother transfer process with continuing access to digital resources. For societies it provides reassurance that practical considerations over a transfer can be handled effectively.

How do publishers benefit?

Compliance makes it clear that a publisher takes their responsibilities to customers and readers seriously, that they understand the challenges involved in ensuring these are addressed effectively over a transfer, and that they are ready and willing to follow best practice processes relating to this. In a transfer between two compliant publishers, there is the reassurance that both parties share these goals and have a framework of responsibilities, required actions, and timelines to work within.

How can a publisher endorse Transfer?

It is straightforward to endorse Transfer – publishers simply need to commit to abide by the principles and practice of the Transfer Code wherever possible when transferring or receiving a journal. They then provide a named contact (who can answer queries during a transfer process) to be added to the list of endorsing publishers, and are set-up with access to post on the Transfer Alerting Service. The intention is that this only requires a small investment of staff time.

How do librarians benefit?

Librarians benefit from Transfer because compliant publishers will protect your perpetual access rights. They will also publish transfer information on the Transfer Alerting Service, such as the receiving publisher details and the new URL.

Librarians can ask publishers if they are Transfer compliant and request acknowledgment of this in contracts. If a librarian discovers a publisher is not aware of the Code, they can direct them to the NISO site, the Transfer Alerting Service site, or alert a member of the Standing Committee. When the Committee approaches a publisher, it is a great help it they have already been informed of the benefits of Transfer by librarians.

How can I receive information about transfers?

We encourage librarians and other stakeholders to sign up to the Transfer Alerting Service. Publishers compliant with the Code are required to register details on transfers using the ISSN Portal, including contact details for each publisher. The searchable database of these changes is hosted by the ISSN International Centre and free to all.

How frequently is the Code revised?

Comments and suggestions are welcomed at any time and can be sent by email to one of the co-Chairs, or any member of the Standing Committee. Following the release of version 4, the Standing Committee has instituted a three-year revision cycle. This allows time for the current version of the Code to have been used in practice, for suggestions to have been received, and for these to have been reviewed and incorporated, if appropriate, into the draft version in progress. The last 6 months leading up to the release of any subsequent version will entail a period of public comment on the proposed changes.

What changes were made in the most recent version of the Code?

Changes were made to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the industry and reflect developments in business models, terminology, and technology complexity. These included:

  • Specifying that open access content should be identified by the transferring publisher and continue to be available as such with the receiving publisher
  • Clarifying clauses relating to communications, to address concerns relating to link resolvers
  • Clarifying points relating to pre-publication content, whether in submission systems or production
  • Updating guidance on links and redirects
  • Adding language regarding differentiation between current and former customers

How are stakeholders represented on the Standing Committee?

The Standing Committee is comprised of a group of publishers, librarians, standards organizations, and other third-parties with a stake in journals transfers. The Standing Committee aims to maintain a good balance across the group, in particular between publishers and librarians. As part of this, the group is co-Chaired by a publisher representative and a librarian representative. The group meets every couple of months focussing on maintaining the Code, discussing any queries/issues raised, and looking for opportunities to promote and present Transfer.

What is the relationship between Transfer and platform changes?

When transfers of journals occur between publishers these normally involve a change of platform, and elements of the Code are applicable to informing service changes such as this. However, platform changes can also occur separately from the transfer of any titles. For example, publishers may change platforms as a development of their publishing services. Platform changes such as this are outside of the scope of Transfer. However, the Standing Committee is following developments towards a recommended practice relating to content platform migrations and considering opportunities for alignment with this.