Green or Gold routes to open access

Open access (OA) refers to free, unrestricted online access to research outputs such as journal articles and books. OA content is open to all, with no access fees.

There are two main routes to making research outputs openly accessible. One involves publishing articles or books via the OA route on a publisher’s platform (often referred to as gold open access). The other involves archiving a version of the manuscript in an OA repository (often described as green open access). Content published via the gold OA route is accessible immediately on publication, while manuscripts deposited via the green OA route may, in many cases, be made accessible only once a self-archiving embargo period has elapsed. The terms for onward sharing and re-use of OA content will depend on the licence under which it has been made available.

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Open access options

Springer Nature facilitates open access in the following ways:


  • Article freely available and easily discoverable on publisher’s platform, alongside other relevant content

  • Article made available somewhere other than publisher’s website, e.g. repository, or author’s homepage – less discoverable

Integrity and scientific record 
  • Version of record is up-to-date and linked to any post-publication corrections, ensuring clear and accurate scientific record
  • Incomplete and multiple versions, not citable or fully connected to other papers, may not be updated with corrections and risks polluting the scientific record
  • Usually associated with an article processing charge (APC) or book processing charge (BPC)
  • No open access fee for authors
  • Open licence (e.g. CC BY) allows users to build on, adapt, and share onwards

  • Rights/re-use may be limited


  • Available immediately on publication
  • Usually available after embargo period

Path to open science

  • Can be bi-directionally linked to open data sets and protocols, as well as included in open metrics, and complying with open standards
  • Not easily integrated into the open research ecosystem due to multiplicity of versions
Viability of full OA transition
  • Publishing infrastructure funded via APCs/ transformative agreements – transition to full OA is possible

  • Reliant on existence of subscriptions to fund publishing infrastructure – transition to fully OA system not possible

Open access policies

Learn more about our policies for journals, books and data.

Questions? Please contact us.

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