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.

Open access options

Springer Nature facilitates open access in the following ways:



  • Available immediately on publication

  • Usually available after embargo period

  • Final published version of record (VOR), after any copyediting and typesetting
  • Usually accepted manuscript (AM) after peer review but before copyediting and typesetting
Location and discoverability
  • 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 of scientific record

  • VOR 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


  • Open licence allows users to share onwards. Learn more about licensing, copyright and author rights for journal articles
  • Rights/re-use may be limited

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

Springer Nature is committed to the sustainable drive towards open science and research.

We believe Gold OA publication offers the simplest most open and most sustainable route to OA and open science and research. Springer Nature is delighted to offer a gold OA option for primary research in all of our research journals, enabling compliance with all funder requirements for access to research articles. 

We also offer researchers, institutions and their funders OA options for books and sharing research data.

Learn more about complying with funder and institutional OA policies.