Libraries leading the transition to open access

By: Una Farr, Mon Aug 28 2023
Una Farr

Author: Una Farr

Librarians have a proud and storied history of helping drive transformation in scholarly communications and publishing. Even when a publisher proposes a new way of doing things—for example, when Springer introduced its eBook packages—that was in response to librarian feedback.

This is also the case with the transformative agreements (TAs) that are helping make the transition to widespread open access (OA) publishing real.

How librarians help

By organising these agreements, librarians help provide more opportunities for researchers to publish their work OA. Not that they tell researchers where to publish—any more than curating subscriptions tells researchers what to cite—but they are helping vet venues for them. This can help protect unsuspecting researchers from submitting work to predatory publishers, or to other inappropriate venues.

Additionally, by establishing these agreements where OA publishing funds are centralised, librarians are helping researchers in disciplines such as Humanities and Social Sciences, where OA funding may be less readily available to also benefit from the reach and impact of OA. 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.

Going for gold: exploring the reach and impact of gold open access articles in hybrid journals © Springer Nature 2023

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

Institutions in more regions are being covered than ever before

The TAs that librarians have negotiated with Springer Nature now cover more than 3,500 institutions around the world. Some of our most recently signed agreements include:

  • Our first TA in Southern Africa with SANLiC (South African National Library and Information Consortium). It includes all 28 member institutions as well as the Universities of Botswana and Namibia;
  • Further agreements across North America including all 68 members of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), Carnegie Mellon University and Northeastern University;
  • TAs in Mexico with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Cinvestav;
  • New agreements in Europe with with the FCCN / b-on consortium in Portugal, the NTK: Czech National Library of Technology in Czechia, the CTK consortium in Slovenia, the CVTI Consortium in Slovakia, the Cyprus Libraries Consortium and the Royal Danish Library in Denmark;
  • Our first TA in Japan with 10 institutions participating in an innovative pilot;
  • Our second TA in Australia with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • Our fifth TA for the highly prestigious Nature and Nature research journals with swiss universities and a renewal of its wider agreement
  • The addition of Nature, Nature Research and Palgrave journals to our agreement with Jisc in the UK

The next steps

The increase in the number of agreements Springer Nature reached has led to OA content published in its hybrid portfolio growing by nearly 40% since 2017. Last year, OA research published in Springer Nature’s hybrid journals by authors affiliated with a TA institution grew 3 times faster than OA research published in these titles by authors whose institution was not part of a TA.

These agreements bring librarians together with Springer Nature to help drive OA forward—which better serves researchers. As Carrie Webster, Springer Nature’s VP of OA put it,

“We are delighted to have been able to agree these new deals with our global partners due to our clear alignment on goals for researchers. Building on our longstanding history and experience in developing sustainable models to drive the OA transition globally, our transformative agreements now cover 6 continents and a diverse variety of countries—from the UK to Greece, Germany to the US, Canada to Colombia, Australia to Japan and Egypt.”

If you are a librarian who’d like to learn more, feel free to reach out to start the conversation about what an agreement that could be right for your institution might look like. If your institution has an existing agreement with us, visit our approval managers hub to learn more about the support we offer to help you administer and promote your agreement to authors at your institution.

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Una Farr

Author: Una Farr

Una Farr, a tech-curious Senior Content Marketing Manager based in London, delves into AI and research management on her blog, "The Continuing Rise of Collaboration". With a passion for empowering research administrators, librarians, and information professionals, she explores new trends and insights to foster knowledge sharing in the research community.