Springer Nature CEO Vrancken Peeters: Case for Gold Open Access

In News by Porter Anderson

In his address to the APE conference, the Springer Nature CEO makes a determined case for gold over green open access and for the partnerships that can lead to trusting business relationships.

Frank Vrancken Peeters

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Duty of Care to the Scientific Record’
As Berlin’s 2021 Academic Publishing in Europe conference has opened today, the CEO of Springer Nature, Frank Vrancken Peeters, has made a keynote address focused on “openness and transparency” as the keys to the two-day event’s theme, “The New Face of Trust.”

Generally referred to as the APE conference, this 13th iteration of the program is being conducted digitally, so Vrancken Peeters finds himself speaking to the assembly from The Hague.

Peeters’ commentary has been billed as an exploration of “how partnerships can work in practice and help advance open science, publishing , and the research system as a whole.”

His message encourages partnership within publishing—something reflected in our report from Monday (January 11) on Knowledge Unlatched and the Pluto Journals—and Vrancken Peeters is holding up successful collaborative open-access efforts during the 2020 coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic year’s publication of pertinent research.

Gaining Trust

“Openness and transparency are necessary to gain trust,” Vrancken Peeters says in his address.

“Trust is the basis for every partnership,” he says, “and open science is the prize for us all, as it will lead to an accelerated and more effective research system, delivering benefits, like vaccines and Sustainable Development Goal solutions for the whole world. Open science is the way forward for research.”

Springer Nature has shared with Publishing Perspectives images from Vrancken Peeters’ keynote, and you’ll see a reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in the slide below, in which he asserts that open-access content relative to the SDGs gets more downloads and has more impact.

Image: Provided to Publishing Perspectives by Springer Nature

Gold Open Access Over Green

In communicating with the news media today about Vrancken Peeters’ points, the company extols the value of partnerships on these points:

  • Delivering increased publishing options to researchers and enabling the transition to open access at scale by transformative agreements with such partners as Projekt DEAL and the University of California
  • Improving access and discoverability of research through partnerships such as that with ResearchGate for content syndication, and being founding members of cross-publisher initiatives like Crossref and Get FTR
  • Enhancing understanding of the societal impact of open research by working with data specialists like Digital Science and institutions and consortia such as VSNU and UKB in the Netherlands

Building on his theme of partnerships’ importance, Vrancken Peeters has put a lot of emphasis on gold open access over green open access, and his key points are captured in this slide.

Image: Provided to Publishing Perspectives by Springer Nature

In his speech, he stresses, “We are very concerned that systematic sharing of accepted manuscripts without embargo and under CC-BY will offer an easy way out for funders and authors: This model takes away the  incentive to fund gold open access, but at the same time relies on subscriptions to fund the substantial  publisher investment required to create accepted manuscripts. For Springer Nature, we estimate that over 50 percent of the per article costs are incurred by this stage.  

“We must work together to prevent us going down the green open access blind alley … and instead get on the gold open access highway to open science.”Frank Vrancken Peeters

“As a publisher of primary research,” he says, “we also have a duty of care to the scientific record.

“The  accepted manuscript is not the final article, it’s less discoverable, doesn’t link to relevant open protocols, open data and open code, isn’t updated for corrections, and may differ in content, risking uncertainty, inefficiency, and in some cases avoidable inaccuracies for the readers.”

The Viral Example

As international figures soar on the winter assault by COVID-19, one of Vrancken Peeters’ most compelling demonstrations of the overall value of open science’s potential has to do with a single month of activity in coronavirus research:

Image: Provided to Publishing Perspectives by Springer Nature

He concludes his APE conference comments, Vrancken Peeters says, “As a publisher of primary research, we have a duty of care to the scientific record.  Only the version of record, dynamically updated in perpetuity can act as an integrated hub for all the elements necessary for open science such as data and code.

“As publishers, we must work together to prevent us going down the green open access blind alley-which doesn’t deliver open research, depends on the continuation of subscriptions, and offers no sustainable funding model-and instead get on the gold open access highway to open science.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on academic and scholarly publishing is here, more from us on open access is here, and more on Springer Nature is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.