Holtzbrinck’s Springer Nature and University of California Renew Open Access Deal

In News by Porter Anderson

The agreement Springer Nature is touting with the University of California is an extension of its 2020 arrangement for research articles.

Some of the journals in the Springer Nature portfolio. Image: Springer Nature (PDF)

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

‘A Tripling of Open-Access Articles’
At the beginning of this month, a new agreement between Holtzbrinck’s Springer Nature and the University of California went into effect, giving the university’s scholarly authors the option to publish their research open-access in journals that lie under the Springer Nature umbrella.

This program is an extension of a 2020 agreement between the German- and British-based company and the American university, and the university’s researchers can be the recipients of financial support thanks to the program, aimed at helping to cover open-access publishing costs when they’re bringing their content to the Nature portfolio of journals. And this is additional support to titles covered in the 2020 arrangement.

In 2021, Springer Nature reports, this shared-funding approach resulted in a three-fold increase in University of California open-access articles in Springer Nature’s group of more than 2,200 hybrid journals and more than 500 Springer Nature fully open-access journals.

The university’s researchers, the publisher says, published more than 1,300 open-access articles in Springer Nature journals in 2021, more than three times their 400 articles of 2020.

The University of California, Springer Nature’s media messaging says, is now on track for an even greater number of open access articles to be published in 2022.

This new extension opened on August 1 and is scheduled to be in force through December 31, 2024. The scope of the agreement includes Nature, the Nature research journals, Nature Communications, and Scientific Reports.

The agreement between Springer Nature and the University of California is structured with a shared-funding model that allows both library and research funds to contribute toward the well-known “article processing charge (APC) cost.

As with the original agreement, the university’s libraries will automatically pay US$1,000 toward the article processing charge for all articles by University of California corresponding authors who are accepted for publication in the Nature portfolio hybrid and open-access journals covered by the agreement. Authors then need to contribute the remainder of the article processing charge from their research funds.

Comments From Springer Nature and the University

Some of Springer Nature’s ‘Nature Reviews’ journals. Image: Springer Nature (PDF)

Carolyn Honour

In prepared comments on the renewed agreement, Springer Nature’s chief commercial officer, Carolyn J. Honour, is quoted, saying, “Springer Nature’s partnership with the University of California has been such a success to date,” arguing for the extension of “our collaboration in the form of this first publishing agreement in the United States for the Nature research journals.

“After already seeing a tripling of open-access articles published by the University of California since our landmark 2020 agreement, it has been clear that together we’re supporting the transition to gold open-access and all that is the future of open science.”

Jeffrey MacKie-Mason

And Jeff MacKie-Mason, the economics professor who is also the chief digital scholarship officer for the University of California at Berkeley and co-chair of the university’s publisher negotiation team, is quoted, saying that the renewed agreement maintains the university’s status as a leader “in the open-access movement on behalf of researchers and people” in many parts of the world.

“This deal will open up critical knowledge,” he says, “in some of the world’s most respected scientific journals, helping advance solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time.”

Our Publishing Perspectives readership will recall that, in fact, Elsevier also has had significant open-access transformative-agreement dealings with the University of California. If you’d like to know more about this, there’s a “call to action” document available on negotiating journal agreements at the school, and you can see it here.

And with such frequent news of open-access agreements from major scholarly publishers–along with frequent claims for those agreements as the biggest and best, and so on–it might help to have a bit of the quantifying detail offered by Springer Nature with this announcement. The company says that it has 17 national agreements now. Those agreements coupled with its institutional deals (this one is institutional, tied to the university) support what Springer says is open-access publishing by a pool of researchers from more than 2,650 affiliated institutions.

These agreements, the company says, enable what is expected to be at least 41,400 open-access articles to be published per year. And Springer Nature says that this is 10 percent “more than any other publisher.”

You’ll recall that last year, as we reported, the publisher announced that it was the first to “immediately publish 1 million gold open-access primary research and review articles, supporting nearly 2.5 million authors in making their research open access.” And, also as we reported, the company said in June that in 2021, its transformative journals had published 40-percent more gold open-access articles than in 2020.

More journals in the Springer Nature portfolio. Image: Springer Nature (PDF)

More on Springer Nature is here, more on open access is here, and more on scholarly and academic publishing 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 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 (Fellow, 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.