This month, we are celebrating the publication of our 1000th open access book at Springer Nature. It’s a proud moment for us, especially as open access books help to achieve our mission of advancing discovery through open research. It seems a good time to take stock of the progress we’ve made so far, and consider what the future of open access books might be.
Written by Ros Pyne, Director, Open Access Books and Books Policies
We were one of the first major academic publishers to offer authors an open access option for books. Back in 2011, Springer’s leading Lecture Notes in Computer Science series published Future Internet Assembly 2011, and in 2013, Palgrave Macmillan partnered with the Wellcome Trust for their first open access book. When the two companies merged in 2015, becoming part of Springer Nature, it was natural that we would continue to build on this shared foundation.
Since then, each year we’ve published more open access books than the last - always with a focus on immediate, rather than delayed or retroactive, open access, and always backed up by a rigorous peer review process. We aim to maximise reach and discoverability for our open access books, and our default licence is CC BY. Publishing an open access book with us can lead to seven times more downloads and 50% more citations on average compared to non-open access books*. Indeed, the impact of our open access books portfolio is wide-reaching, having achieved 84 million chapter downloads so far.
Our English- and German-language open access books portfolio spans a wide range of scholarly book types, covers disciplines from science, technology and medicine to the humanities and social sciences, and also includes prestigious imprints such as Apress and Birkhauser. Some of our notable titles include: Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals, Reality Lost: Markets of Attention, Misinformation and Manipulation, Digital Kenya and Ray Tracing Gems.
We have also formed distinguished partnerships for open access book series, notably with UNESCO and the IMISCOE institute. Each year we aim to expand our open access book publishing options and make open access a possibility for more book authors.
Given the benefits we know open access brings to our scholarly books, I’m especially delighted that our 1000th open access book is on a critical topic for our time. Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility: Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health is the first book to include a wide range of cross-disciplinary views on the health impacts of climate change. Edited by Wael Al-Delaimy, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the volume brings together health care professionals, climate scientists,
As one of the pioneers of open access for books, we’ve long seen it as part of our mission to increase both understanding of the impact open access has on the books, and awareness of open access amongst book authors. We’ve run research projects to investigate how open access affects usage and citations of books*, and to explore book authors’ views about open access**. Our team of experienced commissioning editors around the world play a hugely important role in talking to researchers about open access. There’s more to come: we have some really exciting new research coming out later this year exploring how open access affects geographical usage of books, and we are proud to contribute to projects such as the Mellon-funded Exploring Open Access Ebook Usage project.
While a few funders have long championed open access for books - not least the Wellcome Trust, the ERC, and national funders in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland - we are now starting to see more sustained attention from major European funders, and we expect announcements from cOAlition S as to how Plan S applies to monographs. For the humanities and social sciences - for which the monograph is still the preeminent means of developing and communicating research - this is especially important, giving these scholars the chance to make their work as widely accessible as possible.
There is still much to be done. We know that the majority of book authors think that scholarly books should be open access.** But to enable the expansion of open access for books we will need sustained engagement and financial support from funders. We will need better solutions to achieve a more equitable form of open access that works for authors around the world. And we will need to keep our collaborative spirit and continue to celebrate the important role that monographs play in scholarly communication.
About Ros Pyne