Springer Nature and the University of California join together to better understand author attitudes to open research

New pilot to examine author awareness of open research principles and their benefits, and potential barriers to implementation

Springer Nature and the University of California (UC) today launched a new initiative to gain greater understanding of researcher attitudes to and motivations towards open research practices (including open access articles, data, and code; transparent peer review; and preprints). As part of the partnership, participating UC authors will also have the option to trial Guided Open Access (GOA) for some flagship Nature titles.

With immediate open access to the final published research article a key element of enabling open research, the pilot will start with UC researchers in neuroscience being invited to have their work considered by Nature or Nature Neuroscience using Springer Nature’s Guided Open Access (GOA) process, currently offered as a pilot on selected flagship Nature Portfolio titles.   As part of GOA, all authors in the pilot will receive an Editorial Assessment Report (EAR), a key feature of which is a focused and detailed recommendation on how to increase the rigor and reproducibility of their research and align with open research best practice.  

Building on this, participating authors will be encouraged to engage proactively with several further open research initiatives supported by Springer Nature and UC, including:

  • Depositing associated data in relevant repositories so that it can be effectively reviewed and publication of data descriptors if appropriate to support sharing of large datasets (see for example https://www.nature.com/sdata/policies/repositories#general)
  • Depositing protocols associated with the paper where applicable 
  • Releasing code for peer review and deposition to facilitate reproducibility 
  • Posting the submitted manuscript as a preprint through In Review or other preprint platforms to encourage early sharing and community commentary
  • Releasing the EAR or reviewer reports to enhance peer review transparency

Participants will be interviewed during the process on what incentivises and motivates them to follow the open research practices offered above and how these motivations might be increased and barriers reduced. The results will be explored in a white paper with early insights and recommendations provided as to the potential role open research methods could play in the research ecosystem. 

This pilot forms part of the landmark Transformative Agreement reached between Springer Nature and University of California agreed last summer which saw the two parties commit to exploring the impact and scope of open science content.

Ritu Dhand, VP Editorial Nature Journals at Springer Nature, said:  

“We are delighted to be partnering with the University of California on such an exciting pilot.  Springer Nature is a strong supporter of Open Research and is committed to making the research process as open as possible, knowing this to be the best way to advance scientific discovery.  This pilot will explore what happens when authors are able to make more facets of their research open, and importantly consider what this entails from the researcher’s perspective”.

Samuel Pleasure, Professor of Neurology at UCSF and Director of UCSF Neuroscience Graduate Program, said:

“Open science — the free and open sharing of not just articles, but also datasets, code, and research protocols — is key to accelerating scientific discovery. For many of us at the University of California, a great public university, that way of thinking is embedded in our DNA. By illuminating what motivates researchers to share their work freely and openly, and uncovering barriers they may perceive, this pilot will help the university make even greater strides toward achieving broad public access to the research we produce.”