A researcher’s guide to open access agreements

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu Jul 27 2023

Author: Guest contributor

Open access agreements make publishing your research easier and more accessible. But do you know how they work and whether you qualify to publish your research openly with fees covered under one of them? This guide brings together everything you need to know to help you get the most from Springer Nature’s open access agreements.

Publishing your research open access (OA) can bring a range of advantages both to you and to readers, from increased downloads and citations to making the research more accessible to marginalised communities. But publishing OA comes with a number of challenges too, such as finding funding for the article processing charges (APCs) and identifying an OA journal that’s a good fit for your research.

As part of our ongoing drive to advance OA publishing, we pioneered the use of transformative agreements (TAs), which help to address the challenges faced by researchers and remove barriers to publishing OA. 

As we mark the addition of Nature, Nature Research and Palgrave journals to our OA agreement with Jisc in the UK, we’ve put together a guide to these agreements to help you understand what they are and how they can help you more easily publish your research OA.

What are transformative agreements?

Transformative agreements enable participating institutions to combine journal subscription access along with OA publication costs. This means that if you’re an author at an institution covered by a TA you may be able to publish your article OA with fees covered, in Springer Nature journals that are included in the agreement.

Many of our TAs are country-wide agreements. There are details of all the countries covered on our OA agreements page. Not only do they help researchers with publication fees, but they also make the administrative process of publishing more straightforward.

What are the benefits of publishing open access under a transformative agreement?

For authors, publishing OA brings many benefits, from increasing the reach of research to broadening collaboration opportunities and complying with funder mandates (there’s more on benefits of OA here).

“By making our work more freely available to other researchers, including those from low-income countries, as well as journalists and interested readers, we are making the research process more inclusive,” explained Oliver Hauser, an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Exeter Business School in the UK, who spoke to us as part of Open Access Week last year. “It also enables reproducibility and encourages discussion with a wider, more diverse audience that can dive into, learn from, and constructively critique our research.”

Not only does publishing under a TA bring all the benefits of OA, it also helps to reduce administration time and covers some or all of the APCs for researchers. This helps to make OA more accessible, even in disciplines such as Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), where funding for OA publishing can be difficult to come by. Recent data shows that over 90% of HSS OA content in Springer Nature’s hybrid journals is now published via a TA, having grown at a faster rate than OA HSS content not published via a TA.

Are transformative agreements having an impact?

The short answer is yes. In countries where we’ve launched TAs, OA publishing has increased significantly. 

It was found that, under the UK Jisc agreement, the annual publication of OA articles in eligible Springer Nature journals increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% year on year between 2016 and 2021, from 3,088 to 5,360 articles. Notably, this significant growth rate doesn’t even include the dramatic increase following the introduction of the agreement in 2016 (read more about the impact of UK Jisc agreement in our white paper).

Meanwhile, countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland have seen 90%, 94% and 95% respectively of Springer Nature content now being published gold OA since the introduction of their TAs.

Which journals are covered by transformative agreements?

Each TA is unique and therefore different journals are covered by the different agreements. You can download a list of journals covered by each agreement on this page.

How do I publish under a transformative agreement?

You will need to be the corresponding author of the article and affiliated with a participating institution. During the author identification process, you’ll need to show your institution affiliation (you’ll be asked to do this once your article has been accepted for publication). The institution selected during this process should be your primary affiliation, as this institution will be asked to verify your eligibility.

You’ll also need to explicitly state your primary affiliation in the published manuscript, which is the institution at which the bulk of the research for the article was conducted.

Again, because each TA is different, the best thing to do is to check if you are eligible to publish under an agreement (and find out how to do it if you are) on our OA agreements page for authors.

And remember, we’re working diligently to establish new agreements all the time, so that more researchers could benefit, so even if you’re not covered by one right now, it’s worth checking back regularly. In the meantime, if you need help finding funding for APCs, we offer a free OA funding support service to help authors discover and apply for OA funding.

Find out more about Springer Nature’s transformative agreements and other open initiatives.  


Author: Guest contributor

Guest Contributors include Springer Nature staff and authors, industry experts, society partners, and many others. If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor, please contact us via email: thesource@springernature.com.

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