Springer Nature Partners with Germany’s EMBO Journals

In News by Porter Anderson

A ‘society publisher,’ the European Molecular Biology Organization, announces an open-access agreement with Springer Nature.

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

EMBO Is the European Molecular Biology Organization
The Heidelberg-based EMBO Press—which produces the European Molecular Biology Organization‘s (EMBO) journals—announces today (March 30) that it has chosen Springer Nature as the publisher of its journals, beginning in 2024. One of the benefits to research authors, the announcement reveals, will be an ability to transfer manuscripts between EMBO Press journals and the Springer Nature portfolios.

The long drive to open access and open-science approaches in academic and scholarly publishing is, of course, the underlying motivation in this newly announced partnership.

The European Molecular Biology Organization reports that its membership comprises at least 1,900 researchers, the organization being intent, its messaging says, on “promoting excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond.” The organization says that it “helps young scientists to advance their research, promote their international reputations, and ensure their mobility. Courses, workshops, lectures, and EMBO Press publications disseminate the latest research and offer training in techniques to maintain high standards of excellence in research practice.

“EMBO helps to shape science policy by seeking input and feedback from our communities and by closely following the trends in science.”

Those familiar with this element of the field will recognize this as a “society publisher,” one of the most easily misunderstood terms in the business. This is not a publisher focused on parties and fashionable personalities—although we’re sure that every member is a dashing and alluring creature, of course. This is a publisher of material produced by members of an association themed on a given discipline of study, in this case molecular biology.

EMBO Press‘ media messaging talks of a “recent decision that to advance global discoverability, transparency, and availability of published research outcomes, all papers will be published with full gold open access, starting next year, and curated source data will be posted with fully reproducible methods.”

And, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, Springer Nature’s industry press announcements have been centered primarily on open access for years. As in the rest of the scholarly journals industry, the  focus has swung from one transformative agreement announcement to the next, as major publishers in the academic space jockey for these arrangements, vying for content partners in research.

Fiona Watt

The European Molecular Biology Organization’s director, the British cell biologist Fiona Watt, today is quoted, saying, “We review our publishing partnerships on a regular basis. Out of the many expressions of interest that we received last year from both nonprofit and for-profit publishers, we chose Springer Nature because it best meets our needs at a time when science publishing is in considerable flux.

“EMBO Press has been consistently innovative since its inception, and we’ve chosen a publisher that will not only help us grow but also facilitate widespread adoption of the open-science activities that we have piloted successfully.”

Bernd Pulverer

And Bernd Pulverer, the organization’s head of scientific publishing, says for today’s news, “We support selective quality-focused publishing and open science equally, in order to develop synergistic approaches for the efficient dissemination of reproducible science.

“Through our partnership with Springer Nature, we can expand our approach of one review/one revision publishing with consultative transfers to and from a larger network of journals.

“Full open access benefits readers everywhere, while we will ensure that equitable financial models also preserve access to all authors of quality research.”

Harsh Jegadeesan

Harsh Jegadeesan, Springer Nature’s chief publishing officer, says that he looks forward “to working together to advance equitable and market-leading open science and open access policies.

“This common goal, along with our shared focus on improving the research publishing experience, will accelerate our efforts to help address the world’s urgent challenges.”

Alison Labbate

Alison Labbate, Springer Nature’s vice-president for “society” and partner management, says, “This new partnership with EMBO Press reflects our strong commitment to partnering with scientific societies and institutions—to not only meet researchers’ needs but also to advocate for global research equity and inclusion.

“Springer Nature is committed to the same ideals as EMBO Press; we believe we can reach our goals sooner if we collaborate on policies, resources, and product development. We’re looking forward to the synergies and new opportunities this partnership affords our community.”

The Long March to Open Access

To those not involved in the voluminous and lucrative research-journal sector of the international publishing industry, these news articles become almost invisible, blurred behind a gathering open-access mist which—probably unavoidably—has all but eclipsed the specific work of writing researchers and their teams.

The business news from the great houses of science-based journals is rarely about a discovery, an advance, a setback, or a loss newly reported in a major coup for one journal or another. Instead, it’s about the latest agreements in open-access. If anything, this accentuates the breadth of the gap between the world’s more popularly visible trade book publishing sector and the scientific research-literature sector.

To “Team Trade,” the story from “Team Academia” rarely changes from an unrelieved chant of open access. The science being reported in these journals, of course, may be boldly energetic and punctuated with profound insights and advances. Certainly, the speed with which mRNA vaccines in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 were developed was astonishing and life-saving. But the industry news from the houses producing such news is, inevitably these days, about open-access agreements and more open-access agreements.

Springer Nature likes to point out that it has “around 600 fully open-access journals” and more than 1,700 journals it classifies as hybrid. Those include Nature and the Nature research journals.


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