Berlin’s Springer Nature: Open Access Up 40 Percent in Transformative Journals

In News by Porter Anderson1 Comment

Six transformative journals achieved 75-percent open-access uptake in 2021, according to Springer Nature this month.

Staff lab coats at a Swedish research facility. December 23, 2021, Stockholm. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Andrew Farnsworth

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

Subscription Articles Grew Only 8.4 Percent, Same Titles
In media messaging this month, the German-British Springer Nature Group based in Berlin has announced that in 2021, its “transformative journals” published 40-percent more gold open access research articles than they published in 2020.

A “transformative journal” is a scholarly journal that previously was entirely subscription based but which has been evolved to offer an open-access model. Normally, the intent is to for such journals to become fully open-access over time.

Of Springer Nature’s journals, the company said that 730 also met the “Plan S” initiative’s targets for transformative journals as laid out by the Coalition S. initiative (that name being frequently written with the “o” and “a” in coalition upper-cased “o” and “a” as a play on open access).

More data points:

  • Open-access articles were used, on average, 2.8 times more than subscription articles in the same journals
  • Springer Nature transformative journals saw open-access research article volume growth of 40 percent compared to growth of 8.4 percent for subscription research articles in the same titles
  • Twenty-four journals in the Nature portfolio, all newly on their path to open access, also met the targets. Nature portfolio transformative journals overall also saw an 8-percentage-point growth in the proportion of open-access research articles published in 2021
  • Six transformative journals achieved 75-percent open-access uptake in 2021 and will become fully OA titles in 2023, in addition to four titles that have already committed to flip to OA in 2023
Inchcoombe: ‘Supporting the Transition

Springer Nature’s journals that didn’t meet the required transformative-journal metrics in 2021 have been given a 12-month extension. All of the company’s transformative journals then remain eligible for transformative-journal “article publishing charges” funding from Plan S funders, if available.

Steven inchcoombe

In a prepared comment, Steven Inchcoombe, Springer Nature’s chief publishing officer, is quoted, saying, “In 2020 we made a bold commitment and signed up the overwhelming majority of our hybrid journals to be recognized by Coalition S as transformative journals.

“I’m delighted that the data shows we were right to do so and am very proud of the progress these journals are making in supporting the transition to a fully open-access world.

“This success has in part been made possible by our focus on securing new transformative agreements [in many parts of] the world, and by us putting the benefits of publishing immediate gold open-access front and center in our journal workflow and author communications.

“We’ve also supported the open-access transition through research for authors that shows the impact publishing that open access has on the reach of their work, and for funders that shows the value researchers place in having the final version of record immediately available.

“We are however not complacent,” Inchcoombe says, and working together with Coalition S and non-Coalition S funders, we believe we can build on this in 2022 by collectively make the case for gold  open access.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on academic and scholarly publishing is here, more 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 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.

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