What’s needed to drive open science in 2022?

Research Publishing
By: Frank Vrancken Peeters, Tue Jan 18 2022

Author: Frank Vrancken Peeters

Chief Executive Officer

This time last year I set out Springer Nature’s ambition to drive forward open access and open science. Even then, early in the pandemic, it was clear the important role ‘open’ was playing in speeding up research into the virus and potential treatments. The subsequent year has shown how crucial the adoption of open science methods and principles is going forward, not only to map, monitor, better understand this virus and those which may follow, but as we look to find solutions to the other big societal challenges facing us.  

By opening up all outputs of research, the prize waiting for us is a faster and more effective research system, delivering benefits like vaccines and solutions to global challenges for the whole world.  As well as the preprint and the final version of record being open, so should the data, code, protocols and methods which underpin the research and its findings. I was incredibly proud that last year we reached the milestone of having published one million articles OA, the first publisher to do so, and to have committed to be 50% OA by 2024. But our work does not stop here.

And because the prize is so great this needs to happen faster. 

I believe, going into 2022, there are four simple things - ‘Four Ps’ - the publishing community can do to speed up the adoption of open science. 

  1. Make full use of our publishing capabilities to drive the transition 
  2. Develop and implement policies which promote open science and transparency 
  3. Have the right processes and products in place to make implementing open science methods as easy as possible for authors, and
  4. Create partnerships with others in the research community to drive forward industry-wide solutions on key areas of interest

What do I mean by this? Well, for example at Springer Nature we have created a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) publishing programme which has seen us publish around 390,000 SDG-relevant research articles and book chapters since the UN’s goals were launched in 2015, as well as 17 dedicated content hubs - one for each of the Goals.  We have adopted policies which promote open science and transparency such as encouraging authors to post their work as preprints and requiring them to complete reproducibility checklists - essential when responding to a fast-moving crisis like COVID. We are ensuring we have processes in place to enable authors to publish OA across our entire portfolio and are launching new OA multidisciplinary journals to further aid discovery. And we are creating partnerships with the likes of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Dutch university association VSNU with whom we, along with Digital Science, evidenced the impact of open science on research connected to the SDGs.

By deploying these Four Ps we believe we have the right framework in place to support researchers, librarians and governments as we all accelerate the transition to open science.

But this is not all.  Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to achieving this mission. Therefore ‘open’ needs to be about more than access to research. This is why we champion DEI both internally at Springer Nature and also within the wider research community. We have set targets for representation in leadership and created focused cross-business working groups and employee networks that have helped us identify the areas where we must do more. Inclusive science is better science and we will work to make that a reality. 

Springer Nature has always been passionate about the new: new discoveries that shed light on human existence and the world around us; new ways of working that bring these research findings, across all disciplines, to light. Open science is fundamental to this. In 2022 we will continue to put our full weight behind the transition to OA, create the tools and services needed for the adoption of open science, and further deploy our cross disciplinary strength to support the thinking needed to tackle global challenges such as climate change.  Working with our communities, this is how we can make open science a reality for all.   


Author: Frank Vrancken Peeters

Chief Executive Officer

Frank Vrancken Peeters joined Springer Nature in 2017 as Chief Commercial Officer and became CEO in September 2019. He has spent more than 25 years in the media and publishing sectors, with leadership roles across a range of strategic and delivery business functions in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer contexts. Frank has previously had senior positions at: Wolters Kluwer, where he was Regional Managing Director, Legal and Regulatory, Western Europe; at Infinitas Learning, where he was Chief Operating Officer; and Elsevier Science, where he served as MD Government and Academic Markets, MD ScienceDirect and MD Global Sales, in each case building and growing significant-scale, complex international businesses. Frank holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the Erasmus University Rotterdam.