Empowering librarians to promote open access

By: Jovial Toh, Mon Dec 4 2023
Jovial Toh

Author: Jovial Toh

Open Access Week (23-29 October 2023) was a great opportunity to consider what open access (OA) means, how the transition is going, and what’s next. Since its introduction, publishing OA has proven to have demonstrable impacts on usage, accessibility, and engagement with research. Publishing OA guarantees that key knowledge – such as that around the UN Sustainable Development Goals – can be accessed and used by all, some even influencing policy change. Ensuring that all researchers, regardless of discipline or location, can publish OA, is one of our key priorities at Springer Nature. 

Librarians are leading the transition to OA. As OA champions, you are best placed to promote and facilitate OA publishing among the researchers you interact with, by explaining the benefits of OA, making resources and information on OA publishing available, and engaging with your audience on this important topic.  

Springer Nature aims to support you in this important role and below you will find helpful information, such as resources that you can share with researchers about the benefits of publishing OA.

Librarians are instrumental in the transition of scholarly publishing to OA, and well-positioned to advocate for OA publishing and educate researchers and others about the benefits of OA. As librarians, you can advise researchers about OA agreements that could cover their publishing fees, and support them in finding reputable OA journals or repositories to publish their work. You could also curate and create OA resources that can support researchers in publishing OA. This can include assembling guides, maintaining institutional repositories, and helping researchers navigate OA databases. 

Below we have assembled pertinent information that can further support you in advocating for OA publishing as a librarian.

Benefits of publishing OA

As a librarian, you are uniquely positioned to advocate OA publishing to researchers. Publishing gold OA means that research can reach a wider audience as it becomes immediately accessible to all. The faster dissemination of research can facilitate collaboration and innovation, with researchers worldwide building upon each other’s work more efficiently. The increased impact and visibility of scholarly publications via OA means that published papers are more likely to be cited, shared, and discussed. It also contributes to community access and engagement. 

How much does the visibility of research increase when it's published OA? Analyses have shown that publications in Springer Nature’s hybrid journals achieve up to 4 times more downloads, 1.6 times more citations, and 2.4 times more altmetric attention. And data from the 2022 report on our fully OA portfolio has shown that when publishing in fully OA journals you can expect an even higher impact. These articles are downloaded up to 5 times more and receive higher citation rates than those published in other publishers’ fully OA journals.

For many authors, an important aspect of publishing OA is impact. Many Springer Nature authors have seen the direct influence of their research on policies, and attribute this to having published their work OA. Dr. D. Susan Willis Chan from the University of Guelph shared the importance she sees in her work on insecticides having an impact “not only in the scientific community but in the pesticide regulatory community and in the farming community in general”. She hoped that the pesticide regulatory body would read her article and “then make good decisions about pesticide use. That is exactly what happened… [Publishing OA] is the best way to have impact”. Dr. Dan G. O’Neill from the Royal Veterinary College concluded that publishing OA is “by far and away the most effective way for science to change the world that we live in. Dissemination is key”.

What are we doing to make OA publishing possible for more researchers?

In the transition to OA, ensuring that all researchers, regardless of discipline or location, can publish OA, is one of our key priorities at Springer Nature. What does this commitment look like in practice, and what essential information do you require to effectively extend this support to researchers you work with?

Open access agreements make it easy to choose OA

Springer Nature has been leading the transition to OA and offers different types of agreements that cover the publishing fees for authors from participating institutions. Such agreements include publishing-only agreements for fully OA journals, as well as transformative agreements (TAs) for hybrid journals which combine journal subscription access with OA publication costs. At Springer Nature, TAs are the main reason for the increase in gold OA content in hybrid journals. 

In 2022, our TAs published 3 times more gold OA articles in Springer hybrid titles than via authors choosing OA but not being part of a TA. Notably, TAs make OA publishing more accessible to authors in disciplines such as Humanities and Social Sciences, where funding for OA publishing is more difficult to secure.

OA agreements empower librarians to be OA champions. Springer Nature’s OA agreements make it easier for librarians to promote OA, with optimal workflows and efficient processes as well as support for their efforts.

Supporting the community

We firmly believe that all researchers regardless of discipline or location should be able to publish and benefit from OA. To that effect we have many different partnerships and policies to support researchers in doing this. Where relevant, you can promote these options to your researchers:

  • Granting waivers or discounts of article processing charges for corresponding authors based in low- and middle income-countries.
  • Offering free online access to all Springer Nature journals for researchers affiliated with institutions in low- and middle income-countries through Research4Life.
  • Nature fund supports primary research by authors from over 70 low- and middle income-countries to be published gold OA at no cost to them in Nature and Nature research journals. 

Supporting authors

Springer Nature supports authors throughout their OA publication journey, via author guides, OA book publishing resources, and early sharing of research. You can advise your researchers on these opportunities and the potential benefits they hold for their research and publications.

  • Springer Nature’s author guides on publishing an OA book: Valuable resources for authors considering this option, providing detailed information on every step of the OA publication process.
  • OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit: Co-founded by Springer Nature, OAPEN is a free online resource for authors of any discipline who want to find out more about OA book publishing. 
  • SharedIt: Springer Nature’s content-sharing initiative allows researchers to share their work by providing authors with links to view-only, full-text subscription research articles that can be posted anywhere.
  • In Review: Makes it easy for authors to share a preprint of their manuscript on the Research Square platform and provides real time updates on a manuscript’s progress through peer review.   

For us, creating pathways to more equitable knowledge sharing is an everyday commitment. With your support as a librarian promoting OA, we are paving the way for a more inclusive and open future for all. We welcome further conversations with you to see how we can together bolster our efforts to promote OA.

Learn more about the types of OA agreements and the advantages of OA agreements for librarians here

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Jovial Toh

Author: Jovial Toh

OA publishing

Jovial Toh, Senior Marketing Manager in Singapore, supports global organisations in navigating OA publishing trends. With a passion for baking, she infuses creativity into her work, offering researchers practical tools for their OA journey. Don't miss her blog post, "Transitioning to Open Access: Reflections from Three US Organizations", for invaluable insights.