On this page you can find out about Springer Nature’s open access (OA) policies for journal articles published via the immediate (gold) OA and subscription routes.
Our publication policies help our authors achieve a high level of openness with their research and support them in meeting the open access (OA) requirements of their research funders and institutions.
For information about meeting the OA policies of funders and institutions when publishing with Springer Nature, visit our OA funding support service.
If you're looking for information about our OA policies for books and chapters, you can find them here.
OA licensing and copyright
Open access licensing
Open access (OA) articles in Springer Nature journals are published under Creative Commons licences. These provide an industry-standard framework to support easy re-use of open access material.
Our preferred licence is the Creative Commons Attribution v4.0 International licence (CC BY), and all Springer Nature-owned journals with open access options offer the CC BY licence. The CC BY licence is the most open licence available and considered the industry 'gold standard' for open access; it is also preferred by many funders. This licence allows readers to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to alter, transform, or build upon the material, including for commercial use, providing the original author is credited.
CC BY is used for all articles in the BMC and SpringerOpen journals, in Nature Communications, the Communications journals, Scientific Reports, and Scientific Data and in the majority of Springer hybrid journals. It is also the default licence for all other Springer Nature-owned fully open access journals and for OA content in all journals in the Palgrave Macmillan hybrid portfolio.
A very small number of journals, including those published under the Adis imprint, continue to use the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC) as their default licence. Hybrid academic titles on the nature.com platform offer a choice of licences for OA articles. Please see the individual journals for details of other Creative Commons licences offered.
Where journals offer a range of Creative Commons licences, authors are advised to check their funder's requirements before selecting a licence, to ensure compliance. See here to find out more about how authors can discover funders’ OA policies and meet their requirements.
All Springer Nature journals with an open access option offer intergovernmental organisation (IGO) versions of Creative Commons licences on request, where required by the author’s employer.
Retrospective licence changes
Authors who have published via the immediate open access route in a Springer Nature journal may change the Creative Commons licence associated with their article after publication, but may only change from a more restrictive licence to CC BY (the least restrictive licence). See our ‘Open access licensing’ policy above for more information about open access licences.
Authors wishing to change the licence of their article retrospectively should contact the individual journal editorial office. Some hybrid academic titles on nature.com charge different article processing charges according to the licence chosen, in which case a top-up fee may apply in order to publish under CC BY.
Authors may change the Creative Commons licence of their article at any time after publication.
Copyright of OA articles
Authors retain copyright of all open access articles published by Springer Nature.
Self-archiving, manuscript deposition, and digital preservation
Self-archiving of papers published open access
Authors publishing via the open access route are encouraged to deposit the final published PDF in their institutional repository or any suitable subject repository on publication.
- Authors should provide a link from the deposited version to the URL of the published article on the journal's website; in all cases, the requirement to link to the journal’s website is designed to protect the integrity and authenticity of the scientific record, with the online published version on the journal’s website clearly identified as the definitive version of record.
Authors are advised to check their funders' deposition requirements to ensure compliance. Read our policy compliance FAQs to learn about how authors can ensure they meet funder self-archiving requirements.
Publisher deposition of papers published open access
Springer Nature deposits open access papers published in all hybrid and fully OA journals allied to health subjects in PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central on publication. Please note that there may be an interval of a few weeks between publication and the appearance of an article in PMC and Europe PMC, depending on the time required for PMC to process the deposit and for PMC papers to be mirrored to Europe PMC.
Recently launched journals take time to be accepted for indexing in PMC. All in-scope journals will apply for indexing as soon they meet the criteria for content volume that PMC requires, and once a journal is accepted by PMC all past published articles will be indexed retrospectively. However, during the time before the journal is accepted, authors may need to self-archive their OA article in PMC/Europe PMC in order to meet their funders’ requirements.
Where a journal publishes content online ahead of publication in a print issue (known as advanced online publication, or AOP), OA articles will be deposited to PubMed Central at the point of issue publication, as PMC requires that articles are deposited in their final format.
Authors are advised to check their funders' deposition requirements to ensure compliance. Read our policy compliance FAQs to learn about how authors can ensure they meet all their funders’ self-archiving requirements.
Self-archiving of papers published via the subscription route
Where articles are published via the subscription route, Springer Nature encourages authors to archive the accepted version of their articles on their own personal website and/or in their funder’s or institution’s repository, for public release after an embargo period.
For information about self-archiving of papers published via the subscription route (green open access), including embargo periods, please consult our policies at the links below:
Publisher deposition of papers published via the subscription route
Springer Nature offers authors a manuscript deposition service to help authors publishing via the subscription route fulfil funder and institutional mandates. Information about the journals and types of articles for which the service is provided can be found in the following links:
Springer Nature ensures that publications are preserved and available for future scholars, researchers, and students. Find out more about archiving agreements with Digital Preservation organisations here.
Article processing charges
What is an APC and what are authors paying for?
As costs are involved in every stage of the publication process, from administrating peer review to copy-editing and hosting the final article on dedicated servers, authors are asked to pay an article processing charge (APC) in order for their article to be published open access under a Creative Commons licence.
APC waivers for financial need
Springer Nature offers APC waivers and discounts for papers published in our fully open access journals whose corresponding authors are based in the world’s lowest income countries as defined by the World Bank. See here for further information.
Requests from other authors for APC waivers and discounts will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and may be granted in cases of financial need. All applications for discretionary APC waivers should be made prior to or at the point of manuscript submission; requests made during the review process or after acceptance will not be considered.
To request a waiver:
- BMC & SpringerOpen journals. Please start your submission and request a waiver as part of the submission process. Contact us if you have any questions.
- OA journals on nature.com. Please contact us at the point of submission stating the journal to which you wish to make an application
APC waivers are not offered for open access publication in hybrid titles, as authors without the funds to publish open access in these journals can publish via the subscription route.
APC waivers for substantial critiques of articles published in OA journals
Where authors are submitting a manuscript that represents a substantial critique of an article previously published in the same fully open access journal, they may apply for a waiver of the article processing charge (APC).
In order to apply for an APC waiver on these grounds, please contact the journal editorial team at the point of submission. Requests will not be considered until a manuscript has been submitted, and will be awarded at the discretion of the editor.
APC waivers and refunds for publisher errors
Springer Nature will refund an article processing charge (APC) if an error on our part has resulted in a failure to publish an article under the open access terms selected by the authors. This may include the failure to make an article openly available on the journal platform, or publication of an article under a different Creative Commons licence from that selected by the author(s). A refund will only be offered if these errors have not been corrected within 30 days of publication.
If you become aware of an error in the open access status or licensing of your article, please contact the central Open Research customer support team immediately at the following email addresses:
APCs will not be refunded when articles are retracted as a result of author error or misconduct.
Institutional licence price adjustments for hybrid journals
Springer Nature sets its list prices for institutional licences of hybrid academic journals based solely on subscription content volume. Find out more about how this is achieved for each imprint via the following links:
- Hybrid academic journals published on nature.com and in the Palgrave Macmillan portfolio
- Springer Open Choice hybrid journals
Other OA policies
Retrospective open access
Authors who initially opted to publish their paper under the subscription model in a hybrid journal may be able to retrospectively pay an article processing charge (APC) to make their paper open access. Details of policies for each journal groups can be found in the pages below:
- Hybrid academic journals on nature.com and in the Palgrave Macmillan portfolio
- Springer Open Choice hybrid journals
Springer Nature policies and compliance with funders' open access mandates
Authors publishing in open access and hybrid academic journals published by Springer Nature are able to comply with all funders' open access policies worldwide.
Authors publishing in Springer Nature subscription journals are able to comply with the vast majority of funders’ open access and self-archiving policies. Please see here for exceptions.
Authors may need to take specific actions to achieve compliance with funder mandates. These may include self-archiving, opting into our manuscript deposition service, and/or choosing open access publication if publishing in a hybrid open access journal. Authors are strongly advised to check their funder's open access requirements, particularly regarding manuscript deposition, embargo periods, and licence mandates. To learn more about meeting funder and institutional open access requirements please use the following resources:
Certain research funders, including the Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Wellcome Trust, and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), require that articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) where they have funded the open access article processing charge (APC). For further information and guidance on complying with this requirement, including a list of funders with a CC BY requirement, please see here.
Editorial process for hybrid journals
In order to ensure that an author's decision to pay an APC to make their article open access does not influence editors' or reviewers' decisions about an article, authors publishing in Springer Nature hybrid academic journals are not asked to confirm whether they would like to publish their article open access until after it has been accepted. This means that all submitted articles go through the same rigorous process of editorial consideration and peer review, thereby ensuring that the high standards the scholarly community has come to expect from Springer Nature journals are maintained.
Availability of research data
Springer Nature helps authors make their research data as open as possible by supporting practices for sharing and archiving data. Find out more about our policies and services here.
Open access for genome, standards, and community papers
As a service to the scientific community, some specific paper types may occasionally be published open access under a Creative Commons licence in Nature Research journals which do not otherwise offer a Creative Commons open access option. For more information, please see our full policy.