Springer Nature charts rapid growth in open access articles by UK authors

A new report outlines how Springer Nature has been able to deliver rapid growth in gold open access (OA) articles in the UK. In the five years since the Finch report was produced in 2012, Springer Nature has published nearly 28,000 gold OA articles with a UK corresponding author, according to the report Gold open access in the UK: Springer Nature’s transition.

In 2017, 77% of all Springer Nature publications with UK corresponding authors were published via gold OA, representing a 174% increase in gold OA articles from 2013 to 2017 for this group.

The rapid growth in UK articles published via the gold OA route has been driven by a number of factors:

  1. A strong uptake of both fully OA and hybrid OA journals at Springer Nature. As of 2017, 53% of gold OA articles with UK corresponding authors were published in fully OA journals, while 47% were published via the gold OA route in hybrid journals. Hybrid journals have played a key role in this transition and demonstrate the impact that the UK Springer Compact agreement has had on bringing about a transition to OA for hybrid authors.
  1. The Springer Compact agreement which has made gold OA publication a simple option for UK authors in disciplines where gold OA publication has traditionally been more challenging. In 2013, UK corresponding authors publishing in Springer Nature’s mathematics, humanities, and social sciences journals were making between 8% and 11% of their articles accessible via gold OA. From 2016, these disciplines saw a large jump in gold OA, rising to between 57% and 62% of articles with UK corresponding authors publishing gold OA.
  1. A collaborative environment in the UK, which sees support from government and institutions for OA, funders who have developed policies in support of OA and provided the funds necessary for article processing charges (APCs), authors who are willing to publish via OA, and a publisher providing authors with a range of publishing options and effective workflows.

Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer at Springer Nature, says: “While the UK was already a leader in OA before the Finch report in 2012, this report shows the importance of having partnerships across the research community to make a successful transition to OA.  When we change the system with all participants adapting – governments, funding bodies, institutions, authors, and publishers – we see real progress in advancing open research.”

The report concludes that further transition to OA in the UK will require the UK government and research funders to make a long-term commitment to gold OA. It notes that while countries like the UK are leading the way in transitioning to OA, globally the picture is mixed and thus a range of publishing options are likely to continue to be necessary in the longer term.