Open Access publishing in Nature

German institutions to benefit from first transformative agreement for Nature starting in 2021

October 20, 2020

Landmark agreement between Springer Nature and Max Planck Digital Library creates a route to open access for prestigious Nature research journals.

Springer Nature and the Max Planck Digital Library (MPDL) have agreed an approach that will deliver the first ever transformative agreement (TA) for Nature and Nature-branded journals. Building on the nationwide Projekt DEAL agreement concluded last January for Springer Nature journals, the commercial framework agreed with MPDL will now be offered to German institutions, in time for a January 2021 start.

The transformative agreement, which will run for four years, enables authors affiliated with participating institutions to publish their research articles accepted for publication in Nature and Nature-branded research journals immediately open access at no cost to them. Participating institutions will also gain read access to the complete Nature portfolio, including Nature Review titles and all forthcoming Nature-branded journals.

The parties, who have collaborated since the first iterations of transformative agreements (Springer Compact) on ever more impactful agreements to transition, have agreed this framework in the joint knowledge that TAs are the fastest pathway to transition to open access. With the vast majority of authors taking advantage of the open publication services secured for them with TA, Springer Nature’s existing transformative agreements, with author take up reaching over 90%, play a crucial role in supporting countries in making the research they have funded immediately and openly accessible to all.

The Springer Nature - DEAL agreement signed last January was the world’s largest by volume to date and is expected to enable open publication of around 13,000 German research articles a year.  The volume of OA articles achieved with transformative agreements, combined with the fact that OA articles are downloaded on average four times more than non-OA articles and cited 1.6 times more, means even greater reach and impact for German researchers and German-funded research.

The Nature framework is based on a tiered price structure; in line with current subscription expenditure levels and taking into account the vastly different holdings and equally different publishing outputs of each participating institution. The terms provide for:

  • Open access publishing of all research articles accepted for publication in Nature and Nature research journals by affiliated authors
  • Comprehensive reading access to all Nature subscription titles, including Nature Review titles
  • Reading access to all new future Nature titles and OA publishing in new launches
  • Reallocation of the vast proportion of reading fees into support for open access publishing based on a cost of €9,500 per article

Frank Vrancken Peeters, Chief Executive of Springer Nature, said: “We are delighted that, following our agreement earlier this year with Projekt DEAL, we have been able to reach such a groundbreaking moment with the Max Planck Digital Library, a valued partner in our transition to open access. This transformative agreement will enable hundreds of authors across Germany to publish their research in Nature knowing that it will be open and accessible to all from the moment of publication. 

“Publishing far fewer articles compared with the number of submissions they evaluate, with hundreds of dedicated in-house professional editors personally guiding authors through the peer review process, and providing news, information and context on the major scientific stories of the day, Nature and the Nature-branded research journals are unlike any other journals.  Finding such a realistic transitional model with MPDL marks an exciting development in the history of our flagship journal.”

Prof. Klaus Blaum, Vice President of the Max Planck Society’s Scientific Council for Chemistry, Physics and Technology, commented: “Having the opportunity to publish original research articles openly in such a highly selective and reputable journal as Nature will be an enormous opportunity for scientists in Germany, but an even greater benefit for researchers everywhere who will be able to learn from and build on their findings, accelerating the very process of the advancement of science.” 

Ralf Schimmer, Head of Information at the Max Planck Digital Library, commented: “We are extremely proud of having reached agreement on a realistic approach for transitioning high profile journals like Nature to open access that confirms the founding principle of the Open Access 2020 Initiative. By restructuring the financial streams around scholarly publishing, we can liberate journals from subscription-based paywalls for the benefit of science and society.”

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