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

By: Jovial Toh, Fri Dec 15 2023
Jovial Toh

Author: Jovial Toh

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 discuss the positive impact of this pioneering agreement, as well as the advantages of OA publishing for Japan’s academic research.

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.

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

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.

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

Expanded reach

The third key finding 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.

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.

Information and resources

If you belong to a university that is part of the Japan pilot TA, our approval manager hub page provides valuable information and resources to assist you in promoting the agreement to researchers with your institution. For librarians seeking more insight into OA agreements, we are here to help—explore the various ways we can offer support.

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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.