Why is Open Science and Open Access central to who we are at Springer Nature?

Research Publishing
By: Harsh Jegadeesan, Wed Oct 25 2023

It is no secret that our company is committed to the drive towards sustainable open science. Enabling open research practices in all its manifestations - such as open access, open data, open code - to support researchers in the development and communication of their research and increase its usage and re-use.  It is part of our DNA and has been for over 20 years.

We have supported over 2.5 million authors in publishing OA;  launched In Review to help with integrated early sharing; Springer was the first publisher to offer authors an OA choice on its subscription journals; BMC led the way as the first commercial OA publisher;  introduced data policies that have become industry standards and continue to be the leading publisher of protocols; as well as publishing the most downloaded OA journal globally in Scientific Reports. We have a proud and longstanding heritage in publishing OA, with our journals and imprints playing a key role in developing industry standards and policies for OA and research.

But why?

First and foremost, having easy and open access to all parts of research is essential to the development of a fully open world. Open science not only creates a more inclusive and sustainable open research environment as Carrie Webster recently discussed at the STM conference, but is essential to the role we as a community can play in tackling the world's most challenging emerging and current issues.  By ensuring that the cutting-edge research in these fields of inquiry is accessible, can be used, re-used and authors connected to work together on further development - we can make sure that our regional policy makers and wider public have the latest information to hand to help accurately inform the action that needs to be taken.

But publishing gold OA also has a myriad of benefits for the community in the outreach of their work:

  • For researchers: Publishing OA increases visibility and usage of authors work supporting interdisciplinary knowledge exchange, research development and career progression
  • For librarians and institutions: OA articles and book have higher downloads than non-OA content driving and supporting usage for librarians and institutions

And last month, in our second annual OA report, we were able to share the latest data with our community, providing the latest data on the impact that publishing OA with us has had for our authors.

Where are we in advancing the transition to OA?

Data from the report showed that:

  • More than 38% of our primary research articles were published OA in 2022, keeping us on track to meet our goal of publishing half of our content OA by the end of 2024. 
  • Our new content related to the sustainable development goals – grew strongly, to more than 93,000 articles and books and we became the publisher of the largest number of OA books on SDG-related topics, reinforcing its OA leadership in books.
  • Benefits for authors - data also showed that those authors publishing in our fully OA portfolio benefit from the highest usage (for the second year running) with their fully OA articles achieving the highest cumulated citations (nearly 4 million) in 2022.
  • This impact was also seen for authors’ publishing in our hybrid OA titles, where they benefited from higher usage than that of other publishers - data shows authors benefit from the highest total citations and highest average citation rate, 6.6.
  • The number of people downloading our authors’ OA content is also increasing year on year with data showing a 15% (hybrid) and 10% (fully OA) increase between 2021 and 2022.

As Frank has said before me, one of the key vehicles we as a sector have in the transition to OA is the transformative agreement (TA). And the data continues to show the clear role that TAs can and are playing in moving the transition to OA on, for all researchers, across all continents. Data showed that our TAs are delivering 3x more OA articles in Springer hybrid titles than author choice in 2022. Alongside data released earlier this year looking at the impact they can have on enabling all researchers to publish OA and supporting discipline equity - over 90% of HSS OA content in our hybrid journals is now published via a TA - their role in delivering on the goal of a fully OA landscape is clear.

We are incredibly proud of the impact of our OA portfolio; the value it offers to all authors and researchers and the initiatives we have in place to support all researchers in benefiting from OA. But we also know there is still a way to go.  

OA continues to evolve, and we need to be nimble to its changes, and the demands of our community. As such the past 18 months has also seen us continue to invest in and explore the best way to support the research community such as most recently with our acquisition of OA journal Cureus or through the introduction and ethical use of AI tools, such as this weeks’ announcement on Slimmer AI,  to better support author workflows when publishing OA.

Harsh Jegadeesan

Author: Harsh Jegadeesan

Chief Publishing Officer

Harsh Jegadeesan joined Springer Nature in 2022 as Chief Solutions Officer and was appointed Chief Publishing Officer in March 2023.  Harsh is responsible for the continued growth of our journal and book publishing businesses and for driving our leadership of open access.

Harsh has over 20 years of experience leading diverse global teams to innovate, incubate and scale new digital products and platforms to drive significant business growth. Previously, Harsh was the Vice President of Products and Strategy at SAP SE. 

Harsh trained as an engineer and holds a PhD in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani India and has completed the Accelerated Development Program at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.