The “read and publish” agreement between academic publisher Springer Nature and UK Universities was due for renewal by the end of 2022. Discussions were ongoing throughout the year but a new agreement was not reached by 31st December 2022. We are now in a grace period of access into February 2023 while negotiations continue.
What is being negotiated and why is it important?
Newcastle University’s 2022 subscription to Springer Nature content enabled University members to read Springer Nature (SN) journals online and also publish open access articles with costs covered in more than 2,000 Springer hybrid journals. A new agreement must seek to encompass the whole Springer Nature Portfolio – Springer Compact, Nature journals, Palgrave journals, and their fully open access journals – enabling continued read access to SN online and allowing UK authors to publish open access in SN journals at no extra cost to themselves.
The HE sector has noted that subscription and Article Processing Charge (APC) expenditure with SN accounts for an increasing proportion of library subscription and publishing costs. Total expenditure by UK universities now exceeds £30 million. These costs are unsustainable.
Newcastle University supports Jisc’s criteria for negotiations. A new agreement must:
- Reduce and constrain costs
- Provide full and immediate open access publishing
- Aid compliance with funder open access requirements
- Be transparent, fair, and reasonable
- Deliver improvements in service, workflows, and discovery
What happens if an agreement cannot be reached?
We are hopeful that an acceptable agreement can be reached but if either side walks away from the negotiations we have plans in place to allow continued access to SN content online and open access publishing.
Read Access: We have substantial online backfiles to which we would retain access. These would continue to be accessible via LibrarySearch for you to discover and read. We would not have access to new content from SN, and in these instances where we do not have a subscription we will help you get the article through an inter-library loan or other routes. The exact process will depend on ongoing work, so look out for further communications about the details.
Publishing: We encourage open access publishing to allow wider discovery, access and re-use of research. It is also a requirement of many funders that outputs are published open access if acknowledging their grants. UKRI and Wellcome Trust have provided grants to institutions to cover the costs of APCs but they are no longer willing to pay for open access in hybrid journals, which charge for subscriptions and APCs, unless there is a read and publish (transformative) agreement in place or the journal is a transformative journal.
It is therefore the case that to continue publishing in SN journals and publish open access you should apply the University’s Research Publications and Copyright Policy. By including the rights retention statement in your article you can publish the author-accepted manuscript in the institutional repository ePrints and repository staff will make it available upon publication in the journal. This means you can continue publishing open access and comply with your funder if required, at no cost. During the grace period we would strongly recommend that authors include the rights retention statement in any submissions to SN journals (including Nature titles). If you have any questions about applying the Research Publications and Copyright Policy please contact the Open Access team.
What should authors do?
We are in a grace period until the end of February 2023. During this time we continue to have access to SN online content and our authors are able to publish open access via our 2022 agreement. As mentioned previously we recommend authors include a rights retention statement regardless of the grace conditions as this secures your right to publish open access if a deal is not agreed. We will continue to keep you informed of developments via this blog. You can also read about the negotiations from Jisc https://www.jisc.ac.uk/springer-nature-negotiations.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact us.