On this page you can find out about Springer Nature’s open access (OA) policies for journal articles published via the immediate (gold) OA and subscription routes.
Our publication policies help our authors achieve a high level of openness with their research and support them in meeting the open access (OA) requirements of their research funders and institutions.
For information about meeting the OA policies of funders and institutions when publishing with Springer Nature, visit our OA funding support service.
If you're looking for information about our OA policies for books and chapters, you can find them here.
OA licensing and copyright
Open access licensing
Open access (OA) articles in Springer Nature journals are published under Creative Commons licences. These provide an industry-standard framework to support easy re-use of open access material.
Our preferred licence is the Creative Commons Attribution v4.0 International licence (CC BY), and all Springer Nature-owned journals with open access options offer the CC BY licence. The CC BY licence is the most open licence available and considered the industry 'gold standard' for open access; it is also preferred by many funders. This licence allows readers to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to alter, transform, or build upon the material, including for commercial use, providing the original author is credited.
CC BY is used for all articles in the BMC and SpringerOpen journals, in Nature Communications, the Communications journals, Scientific Reports, Scientific Data, Palgrave Communications, and for OA articles in the majority of Springer hybrid and Transformative Journals. It is also the licence used for all other Springer Nature-owned fully open access journals and for OA content in all hybrid/Transformative Journals in the Palgrave Macmillan portfolio and in the academic titles on the nature.com platform.
A very small number of journals, including those published under the Adis imprint, continue to use the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC) as their default licence. Where there is a funder requirement, Springer Nature will accept requests to publish under the Creative Commons Attribution v4.0 International licence (CC BY) licence.
Authors are advised to check their funder's open access requirements, to ensure compliance. See here to find out more about how authors can discover funders’ OA policies and meet their requirements.
All Springer Nature journals with an open access option offer intergovernmental organisation (IGO) versions of Creative Commons licences on request, where required by the author’s employer.
Retrospective licence changes
Authors who have published via the immediate open access route in a Springer Nature journal may change the Creative Commons licence associated with their article after publication. Authors may only request to change from a more restrictive licence to CC BY (the least restrictive licence) and may only request to change to a standard licence offered by the journal, unless the licence is a necessary requirement of your funder. See our ‘Open access licensing’ policy above for more information about open access licences.
Authors wishing to change the licence of their article retrospectively should contact the Open Research Support Team at ORSupport@springernature.com with your Article’s title, DOI and Journal name.
Copyright of OA articles
Authors retain copyright of all open access articles published by Springer Nature.
Self-archiving, manuscript deposition, and digital preservation
Self-archiving of papers published open access
Authors publishing via the gold open access route are encouraged to deposit the final published PDF in their institutional repository or any suitable subject repository on publication.
Authors should provide a link from the deposited version to the URL of the published article on the journal's website; in all cases, the requirement to link to the journal’s website is designed to protect the integrity and authenticity of the scientific record, with the online published version on the journal’s website clearly identified as the definitive version of record.
Authors are advised to check their funders' deposition requirements to ensure compliance. Read our policy compliance FAQs to learn about how authors can ensure they meet funder self-archiving requirements.
Publisher deposition of papers published open access
Springer Nature automatically deposits open access articles in PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central (EPMC) on publication, if the article meets the PMC deposition guidelines.
- Articles in fully OA journals with full PMC deposition agreement
For authors publishing in our fully OA journals, where the journal has a full PMC deposition agreement we will automatically deposit all articles to PubMed Central. Find the agreement type by journal here. If the journal does not yet have an agreement, or is out of subject scope, we will deposit articles that acknowledge funding from a PMC partner or EPMC funder, or a funder approved by PubMed Central for deposit in compliance with a public or open access policy.
- Articles in hybrid and Transformative Journals
For authors publishing open access articles in our hybrid and Transformative Journals, as of January 2019 PubMed Central has updated their deposition guidelines. Open access articles are eligible to be deposited in PubMed Central if the journal of publication is currently indexed in MEDLINE and is part of a Selective Deposit agreement (as used by many of our hybrid/Transformative Journals); OR the article acknowledges funding from a PMC partner or EPMC funder, or a funder approved by PubMed Central for deposit in compliance with a public or open access policy. Find the PMC agreement type by journal here, and a list of MEDLINE journals here.
- Timeline and funder compliance
Please note that there may be an interval of a few weeks between publication and the appearance of an article in PubMed Central and Europe PubMed Central, depending on the time required for PubMed Central to process the deposit and for PMC articles to be mirrored to Europe PubMed Central. Where a journal publishes content online ahead of publication in a print issue (known as advanced online publication, or AOP), open access articles will be deposited to PubMed Central at the point of issue publication, as PubMed Central requires that articles are deposited in their final format.
Authors are advised to check their funders' deposition requirements to ensure compliance. Read our policy compliance FAQs to learn about how authors can ensure they meet all their funders’ self-archiving requirements. If you believe your open access article is eligible to be deposited to PubMed Central but has not been, please contact us, or you can submit an open access article directly to PubMed Central or Europe PubMed Central through their submission systems: PubMed Central and Europe PubMed Central.
Recently launched journals take time to be accepted for indexing in PubMed Central. All in-scope journals will apply for indexing as soon they meet the criteria for content volume that PubMed Central requires, and once a journal is accepted by PubMed Central all past published articles will be indexed retrospectively. During the time before the journal is accepted, however, authors may need to self-archive their open access articles in PubMed Central /Europe PubMed Central in order to meet their funders’ requirements.
Self-archiving of papers published via the subscription route
Springer Nature supports gold OA as the simplest, most open, and most sustainable route to OA and to open science and research. Unlike green OA self-archiving of accepted manuscripts (AM), gold OA provides immediate access to the trusted, enhanced, and publisher-maintained version of record (VOR), and is not reliant on the continued existence of journal subscriptions.
Where articles are published via the subscription route, Springer Nature permits authors to self-archive the accepted manuscript (AM), on their own personal website and/or in their funder or institutional repositories, for public release after an embargo period (see the table below). The accepted manuscript is the version post-peer review, but prior to copy-editing and typesetting, and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections.
Authors should provide the following acknowledgement, and link from the accepted manuscript version to the URL of the published article on the journal's website
Authors are able to publish via the gold OA publication route, which means that the published version of record will be immediately available on publication and can be shared under a CC BY licence.
- Embargoes and restrictions on self-archiving of the AM
For information about self-archiving of papers published via the subscription route (green open access), including embargo periods, please consult our table below:
Embargo length (articles)
Deposition of AM permitted in institutional or funder repository after embargo, and author's own personally maintained website*?
* Authors publishing in the Springer and Palgrave Macmillan portfolios may share the AM to their personally maintained website immediately on acceptance, with no embargo. Springer Nature authors publishing across all of our imprints are also able to immediately share their research articles peer-to-peer via our SharedIt initiative. SharedIt allows authors and subscribers to provide read-only access for non-subscribers through shareable links. For further information, please visit our webpage here.
Self-archiving of papers containing Rights Retention language
Springer Nature only ever assesses manuscripts on their editorial merit, therefore manuscripts which contain Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) language will not be rejected on that ground and we will not remove that text before publication if it is included in a section that is a normal part of the published article.
However authors who opt to publish via the subscription route will be required to sign our standard licences which allow the AM to be shared only after an embargo period. The standard licensing terms will supersede any other terms that the author or any third party may assert apply to any version of the manuscript.
Authors who wish their research to be immediately openly accessible or whose research is supported by a funder that requires immediate open access (e.g. according to Plan S principles) should select to publish via the gold OA route.
Publisher deposition of papers published via the subscription route
For authors not choosing open access publication when publishing in a Transformative Journal or hybrid open access journal, Springer Nature currently offers authors a manuscript deposition service to help authors publishing via the subscription route fulfil a number of funder and institutional mandates. Information about the journals and types of articles for which the service is provided can be found in the following links:
Springer Nature ensures that publications are preserved and available for future scholars, researchers, and students. Find out more about archiving agreements with Digital Preservation organisations here.
Article processing charges
What is an APC and what are authors paying for?
As costs are involved in every stage of the publication process, from administrating peer review to copy-editing and hosting the final article on dedicated servers, authors are asked to pay an article processing charge (APC) in order for their article to be published open access under a Creative Commons licence.
APC waivers for financial need
Springer Nature offers APC waivers and discounts for papers published in our fully open access journals whose corresponding authors are based in the world’s lowest income countries as defined by the World Bank. See here for further information.
Requests from other authors for APC waivers and discounts will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and may be granted in cases of financial need. All applications for discretionary APC waivers should be made prior to or at the point of manuscript submission; requests made during the review process or after acceptance are unable to be considered.
To request a waiver:
- BMC & SpringerOpen journals. Please start your submission and request a waiver as part of the submission process. Contact us if you have any questions.
- OA journals on nature.com. Please contact us at the point of submission stating the journal to which you wish to make an application
We are unable to grant requests to waive APCs just on the basis of the research topic explored (for example COVID-19 or SARS) where there is no evidence of a financial need. If, however, you are in financial need and unable to support the costs of the APC, we would be happy to assess your eligibility for a waiver or discount under our standard policies for fully OA journals, described above.
APC waivers are not offered for open access publication in hybrid and transformative titles, as authors without the funds to publish open access in these journals can publish via the subscription route.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently making all content related to COVID-19 immediately freely accessible and discoverable via our dedicated COVID-19 landing page and via the PubMed Central COVID-19 initiative. This applies regardless of whether authors have opted for the subscription or gold OA publication routes.
APC waivers for substantial critiques of articles published in OA journals
Where authors are submitting a manuscript that represents a substantial critique of an article previously published in the same fully open access journal, they may apply for a waiver of the article processing charge (APC).
In order to apply for an APC waiver on these grounds, please contact the journal editorial team at the point of submission. Requests will not be considered until a manuscript has been submitted, and will be awarded at the discretion of the editor.
APC waivers and refunds for publisher errors
Springer Nature will refund an article processing charge (APC) if an error on our part has resulted in a failure to publish an article under the open access terms selected by the authors. This may include the failure to make an article openly available on the journal platform, or publication of an article under a different Creative Commons licence from that selected by the author(s). A refund will only be offered if these errors have not been corrected within 30 days of publication.
If you become aware of an error in the open access status or licensing of your article, please contact the central Open Research customer support team immediately at this email address.
APCs will not be refunded when articles are retracted as a result of author error or misconduct.
Institutional licence price adjustments for hybrid/Transformative Journals
We annually review our journal lists to ensure our pricing remains fair, transparent, and consistent across our whole journal portfolio. Open access articles are assessed separately from subscription articles and a subscription price only reflects access to subscription articles.
Other OA policies
Retrospective open access for hybrid and Transformative Journals *
Authors who initially opted to publish their paper under the subscription model in a hybrid or Transformative Journal may be able to retrospectively pay an article processing charge (APC) to make their paper open access. To request retrospective open access for an article that has already been published, please complete our retrospective open access order form, by following the link below:
* As gold OA publication remains a very new development for our Nature Research titles, at present, retrospective open access is only available for submissions to these journals from January 2021, while we focus on implementing this new business model and updating our operational workflows. We will keep our position on retrospective OA for these titles under review.
Springer Nature policies and compliance with funders' open access mandates
Authors may need to take specific actions to achieve compliance with funder mandates. These may include self-archiving, opting into our manuscript deposition service, and/or choosing open access publication if publishing in a hybrid or Transformative Journal.
Authors are strongly advised to check their funder's open access requirements, particularly regarding manuscript deposition, embargo periods, and licence mandates. To learn more about meeting funder and institutional open access requirements please use the following resources:
- Links to funder and institutional open access policies
- Policy compliance FAQs
- Plan S compliance for Springer Nature authors
Certain research funders, require that articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) . For further information and guidance on OA funding and policy, please see here.
Authors, funders, and institutions with queries about open access compliance are advised to contact the open access support service at OAFundingPolicy@springernature.com.
Hybrid and Transformative Journals; open access decision process
An author's decision to pay an APC to make their article open access does not influence editors' or reviewers' decisions about an article. Authors publishing in Springer Nature hybrid/Transformative Journals are not asked to confirm whether they would like to publish their article open access until after it has been accepted. All submitted articles go through the same rigorous process of editorial consideration and peer review, thereby ensuring that the high standards the scholarly community has come to expect from Springer Nature journals are maintained.
Availability of research data
Springer Nature helps authors make their research data as open as possible by supporting practices for sharing and archiving data. Find out more about our policies and services here.