Go back

Building a service to support cOAlition S’s Price & Service Transparency Frameworks: an Invitation to Tender



The European Science Foundation (ESF), on behalf of the cOAlition S members, is seeking to contract with a supplier to build a secure, authentication-managed web-based service which will enable:

  • academic publishers to upload data, in accord with one of the approved cOAlition S Price and Service Transparency Frameworks;
  • approved users to be able to login to this service and for a given journal, determine what services are provided and at what price;
  • approved users to be able to select several journals and compare the services offered and prices charged by the different journals selected;
  • the Journal Checker Tool (JCT) – via an API call – to determine whether a journal has (or has not) provided data in line with one of the approved Price and Service Transparency Frameworks.

Given that some of the data that will be made accessible through this service is considered sensitive, it is imperative that suppliers can build a secure service such that data uploaded by a publisher, and intended by them for approved users only, cannot be accessed by any other publisher.

This service must be functional – in terms of allowing publishers to upload their “Framework Reports” by 1st of December 2021.  The service must be accessible to all approved users – including the JCT – by the 1st June 2022.

Proposals should be sent by Monday 7th June 2021 at 09.00 CEST. If a suitable supplier is identified, we envisage that a 3-year contract will be awarded by ESF.



The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S specifies that:

“where Plan S requirements apply, no later than 1 January 2020, cOAlition S, in partnership with publisher representatives and other stakeholders, will define the various services (e.g., triaging, peer review, editorial work, copy editing) publishers will be asked to price. This price transparency requirement will apply to all articles funded through transformative arrangements as well as those levied by Open Access journals and platforms”.

To address this ambition cOAlition S commissioned Information Power to develop a price transparency framework.  A pilot study in early 2020 (which included participants from 10 publishers) validated that the information sought could be provided and would be useful to the research community.

As such, the Information Power framework has been endorsed by the cOAlition S leadership. It consists of a data collection spreadsheet and an implementation guide.

Independent of this work, the Fair Open Access Alliance (FOAA) developed a Publication Services and Fees framework which, to date, has been implemented by Frontiers, MIT Press, Copernicus and MDPI.

Both frameworks – the one developed by Information Power and the one developed by Fair Open Access Alliance – have been endorsed by cOAlition S. Publishers can use either framework when providing price and service data to cOAlition S.

cOAlition S believes that the information we seek from publishers will help approved users better understand if the fees they pay are commensurate with the open publication services delivered, and to better understand the elements of those services, for example, peer review, editorial work, and publishing infrastructure. Institutions will be able to use these data to inform discussions with researchers, for example, to offer advice to them about their publishing options.

Providing this information is also an opportunity for publishers to demonstrate their commitment to open business models and business cultures, to build awareness of their services and value, to build trust with approved users, and to be more responsive to their needs.


Responding to the Invitation to Tender (ITT)

Detailed in the Invitation to Tender are the requirements that the service must deliver.

Suppliers (individual providers or consortia) interested in responding to this invitation should apply, using the template, set out in Annex A: Response form.

The completed form, along with the completed price template, should be sent (by email) to info@coalition-s.org, no later than Monday 7th June 2021 at 09.00 CEST.

The criteria by which responses will be judged is set out in Annex B.

We will be hosting a webinar on the 13th May 2021 at 17.00 CEST to answer any questions you may have about this procurement. If you wish to take part in the webinar, please register here.

The Q&As of the webinar are published here

ESF reserves the right not to award a contract if no suitable supplier(s) is identified.



Activity  Date 
Price and Service Transparency Service: Invitation to Tender issued Monday 26th April 2021
Webinar/Q&A with potential suppliers – register here Read the Q&As of the webinar Thursday 13th May 2021 at 17.00 CEST
Responses returned to cOAlition S by email Monday 7th June 2021 at 09.00 CEST
Supplier interviews (video conference) w/c 14th June 2021
Preferred supplier identified – Intent to contract letter sent Monday 28th June 2021
Contract for services signed No later than 30th July 2021
Publisher portal (and related services) live w/c 6th December 2021
Full product launch 1st June 2022

If you have any questions about the tender process, you may contact us at info@coalition-s.org.