How the Japan pilot transformative agreement is helping researchers achieve greater impact

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Wed Oct 18 2023

Author: Guest contributor

The Japan pilot transformative agreement (TA) officially came into effect on 01 January 2023. Within the framework of this agreement, we anticipated the publication of nearly 900 open access (OA) articles in its first year by researchers in Japan. So how has this agreement fared thus far? In this blog post, we will discuss the positive impact of this pioneering agreement, as well as the advantages of OA publishing for authors.

What has been the impact of the Japan pilot transformative agreement thus far?

After a six-month duration, the pilot agreement has unveiled three significant findings that hold relevance for researchers like yourself.

Increased equity

The Japan pilot TA plays a pivotal role in advancing equitable OA, both by making articles available immediately on publication, and by dismantling institutional barriers, such as discipline-specific funding, to make OA publishing accessible to more eligible researchers, regardless of their discipline, funding availability, or career stage.

Since the implementation of this agreement, we observed a broadened spectrum of subject areas, including Energy, Statistics, Law, and Linguistics, where articles authored by individuals affiliated with a participating institution were published OA.

Increased downloads

OA papers published under the pilot TA earned an increased number of downloads. 

So far, they have received 6.4 times more downloads than non-OA papers published during the same timeframe. To provide precise figures: OA papers published under the Japan pilot agreement attained an average of 719 downloads per article, in contrast to non-OA articles, which achieved only an average of 112 downloads.

Expanded reach

The third key finding following the pilot’s first six months relates to these OA articles’ increased reach. 

OA articles accessed by users whose IP addresses are not registered on the journal platform, SpringerLink, accounts for about two thirds of all accesses.

In all academic fields, including the Humanities and Social Sciences, OA articles are widely used to promote awareness of research results, not only among researchers, but also among diverse communities, including corporate R&D, the media, and policy makers.

P_Kenji SUETSUGU © Springer Nature 2023

Prof. Kenji Suetsugu, Evolutionary biologist of Graduate School of Kobe University

By publishing research through open access, there is a notable impact on the visibility and influence of research outcomes. The accessibility of research results to a broader audience, including not only researchers but also students, and the public. My article on the discovery of a new orchid species has reached a significant milestone with more than 81,000 downloads. Additionally, it has achieved an Altmetric Score of 1,953, reflecting mentions and engagement across social networking sites and other platforms. This is an impressive figure, yet it's worth recognizing that the widespread visibility and impact of the paper can be attributed to its open access availability. Without open access, the paper would not have been accessed and acknowledged by such a vast and diverse audience.

The findings above are in line with a study conducted in 2021, where we commissioned an analysis of 60,567 articles published in 1,262 hybrid journals and found a clear advantage in reach and impact for articles published OA in hybrid journals compared to non-OA articles in the same journals. For Springer Nature authors who have selected the full gold OA publishing option, there is clear evidence that their work has benefited from increased attention and reach, including 1.6 times more citations, 6.0 times more downloads and 4.9 times more altmetric attention.

Gold open access © Springernature 2022

Going for gold: exploring the reach and impact of gold open access articles in hybrid journals

How do transformative agreements work?

TAs enable participating institutions to combine journal subscription access along with OA publication costs. This means that if you’re an author at an institution covered by a TA, you may be able to publish your article OA with part or all of the fees covered, in Springer Nature journals that are included in the agreement. These agreements not only help researchers with OA publication fees but also streamline the administrative aspects of the publishing process:

Step 1: Article accepted

Article is accepted for publication in a hybrid or fully OA journal. The corresponding author receives an email invitation to complete the publication process for their article.

Step 2: Article identification 

Authors identify themselves by one of three data elements:

  • Selected institution
  • Institutional email
  • Location

Step 3: Selecting OA

For articles that have been identified as eligible to be covered by an OA agreement, the corresponding author will be presented with confirmation that they can publish OA with their fees covered.

Step 4: License

The author is asked to agree to an OA creative commons license on behalf of all co-authors. We use a CC BY license for all our gold OA publications. This is a public copyright license, which enables maximum reuse of your content whilst ensuring you gain credit. You retain copyright, whilst allowing others to use, distribute and build upon your research.

Step 5: Publication

We ask all institutions to approve articles within 3 days to ensure rapid publication for our authors. Once approved, the article is published immediately OA. The OA article is freely available for anyone in the world to read, share and re-use.

P_Kensuke IKENAKA © Springer Nature 2023

Assistant professor Kensuke Ikenaka, Department of Neurology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine

I selected OA as the publishing route for our paper with the anticipation of it receiving widespread readership and numerous citations. Our research team is particularly interested in the potential increase in citations that OA can facilitate. For our work published in Acta Neuropathologica recently, we are fortunate as the publication fees are covered under the Japan pilot transformative agreement with Springer Nature, as Osaka University is a participating institution. The workflow was seamless—once the accepted paper has been approved by my institution, the article is published immediately OA.

Publishing OA under the Japan pilot transformative agreement

You can check your eligibility for OA publication fees coverage and download a list of journals included in the agreement on this dedicated page for Japan. We’re working diligently to expand this agreement, so that researchers from more institutions across Japan could benefit, so even if you’re not covered right now, it’s worth checking back regularly. Meanwhile, should you require assistance in locating funding for your next OA article, don't hesitate to reach out to your library.


Author: Guest contributor

Guest Contributors include Springer Nature staff and authors, industry experts, society partners, and many others. If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor, please contact us via email:

Related Tags: