Timeline of open research at Springer Nature

OR Timeline 2020 © Springer Nature 2020

Springer Nature and Germany's Projekt DEAL signed the largest transformative open access (OA) agreement to date. It provides OA publishing services and full reading access to Springer Nature journals to scholars and students from across the German research landscape.  A large step forward in the OA transition, it enabled greater visibility, impact, efficiency, transparency and sustainability in the dissemination of German research, for global researchers.

Springer Nature reached a major milestone in open access (OA) publishing with the release of its 1000th open access book. With over 100 million chapters downloaded across the portfolio, Springer Nature continues to advance discovery by offering an OA option for scholarly books so they can be immediately and freely accessed by readers worldwide.

Springer Nature and the University of California (UC) agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the largest transformative OA agreement in North America to date, and the first for Springer Nature in the U.S. The agreement signaled an increasing momentum for OA in the US and enabled the acceleration of OA research by making US-funded research more visible, usable, reusable and reproducible around the world more quickly.

Springer Nature now holds the largest number of transformative OA agreements globally.

Springer Nature continued to drive forwards the transition to OA by pioneering a new model of publishing with Transformative Journals (TJs). TJs proposed in May 2019 by Springer Nature as a new way to accelerate a transition to OA, were adopted by cOAlition S in 2020. TJs proactively promote the benefits of OA to increase uptake, while supporting any author who wishes to publish in the journal, regardless of their funding situation.OR Timeline 2019 © Springer Nature 2020

Springer Nature published over 100,000 OA articles in 2019, making it the largest OA publisher of primary research. 30% of all content published by Springer Nature is OA, with Springer Nature’s OA article output now accounting for 1 in 3 OA articles globally. The publisher now has around 600 fully OA journals and 2,200+ journals with an OA option available.

OR Timeline 2018 © Springer Nature 2020

In Review, the innovative service which integrates early sharing and increased transparency in peer review with the journal submission and peer review process, launched, making it easier for authors to share work earlier and get real time updates on their manuscripts progress.

Springer Nature’s OA books programme achieved a number of milestones, including the release of its 500th book and reaching 30 million chapter downloads.

OR Timeline 2017 © Springer Nature 2020

In April 2017, Research Data Support was launched to assist researchers who have datasets they want to make easier to cite, share and find. The service provides a secure portal for data upload, and data and metadata are curated and improved by professional research data editors. Any author who is submitting their manuscript to a Springer Nature journal, or who has already published their research with Springer Nature or another publisher can use this service.

Springer Nature also announced that it had become the largest academic publisher to open up reference lists to advance data discovery and reuse. Working closely with Crossref, Springer Nature makes the metadata for reference lists available across all academic books and owned journals (and as an option for society partners). The references are available through the Crossref Metadata APIs and Metadata Search including the ‘link references’ tool for matching references to DOIs.    

Nature Research also expanded its portfolio of open access titles to include a family of three new, high quality, selective, open access multidisciplinary journals: Communications Biology, Communications Chemistry and Communications Physics. The appetite for high quality open access options is at an all-time high and projected to continue growing. In a recent survey of almost 8,000 Springer Nature authors, 67% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that open access is the future of academic and scientific publishing.

OR Timeline 2016 © Springer Nature 2020

A broad drive across the research, funding and publishing communities is under way to make the availability of research data more transparent. Following trials across Springer Nature, standardised policies on data sharing were introduced. The new policies reduce the complexity of data availability requirements to four simple types. These have already been rolled out to over 1,400 journals, and have attracted interest from funders, community standards groups and other publishing groups. The policy text was released under a Creative Commons licence to improve community standards and, with the Research Data Alliance, a working group has been established to explore industry-wide data policy standardisation and implementation.

OR Timeline 2014 © Springer Nature 2020

In a bold move, Nature Communications announced that it would become the first Nature-branded fully open access (OA) journal. The title was launched in 2010 as a born-digital hybrid journal, publishing both open access and subscription content, but this move made it the most highly-cited open access journal in the world. An independent statistical analysis of the articles published in Nature Communications, carried out by the Research Information Network (RIN) found that open access (OA) articles were viewed three times more often than articles that are only available to subscribers. RIN also found that OA articles were cited more than subscription articles.

It was also a significant year for new launches: Scientific Data was announced, offering researchers a publication outlet for descriptions of data that are citeable and grow the visibility and re-usability of datasets from research. Nature Partner Journals were also launched as a new series of high impact journals published in association with world-leading institutions and partners.To support the transition to Gold OA, a new funding support service was launched. Free of cost, the service enables authors to find out what funding is available to them and to gain support in applying for funding.Continuing to support the changing policy landscape and recognising a growing interest in OA books, both Springer and Palgrave Macmillan announced the availability of publishing book chapters. The first OA Palgrave Pivot was also published.OR Timeline 2012 © Springer Nature 2020Due to high demand, open access books were added to the SpringerOpen portfolio. Palgrave Macmillan follow in 2013, publishing the first monograph to be funded by the Wellcome Trust the same year.

During this period, we continued to strengthen our policies to support open research: in January 2012, Springer brought its hybrid open access option, Open Choice, into line with the fully open access journals published by SpringerOpen and BMC, offering CC BY as the standard licence. Palgrave Macmillan also began to offer CC BY across journal articles, Palgrave Pivots and monographs.OR Timeline 2010 © Springer Nature 2020

SpringerOpen launched in 2010, offering a portfolio of fully open access journals for its authors. Nature Communications was also launched, a significant move as the first Nature-branded journal to offer optional open access. Shortly afterwards, in 2011, Scientific Reports was launched. OA options were also introduced for Palgrave Macmillan journals. 

OR Timeline 2005 © Springer Nature 2020

Always embracing innovation in research, Nature Publishing Group (now Nature Research) launched its first full open access title, Molecular Systems Biology, in 2005. Between 2006 and 2007, Nature Research continued to develop open policies, launching a self-archiving policy with 6 month embargo in 2007, and introducing Creative Commons licences in 2007.

OR Timeline 2004 © Springer Nature 2020In early 2004, at the height of the debate on open access and STM publishing, Springer began looking into a system that would accommodate those that wished to publish open access in a subscription journal. In the spirit of experimentation that is part of our culture, Springer Open Choice was launched. Today, more than 1,900 journals across Springer Nature offer optional open access.OR Timeline 1998 © Springer Nature 2020During the infancy of open access, BioMed Central (BMC) was founded as the first commercial open access publisher in August of 1998. The first BMC article published on July 19th, 2000.

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