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UK institutions are in negotiation with Springer Nature to secure a sustainable read & publish agreement for the Nature, Nature research journals and Palgrave journals.


The key points

  • UK Universities are engaged in negotiations to reach a deal that will enable us to not only read these journals, but also publish with open access at no additional cost.
  • The negotiations concern Nature, Nature research journals and Palgrave journals. They also include a renewal of the existing transitional open access (OA) agreement for over 2,000 other Springer journals.   
  • Reaching a transitional agreement is particularly important to make it easier for our authors to comply with UKRI and other funders' policies. The aim is to reach an affordable read and publish deal.
  • In the meantime, Cambridge authors can still publish in Nature, Nature research journals and Palgrave journals, taking alternative steps to ensure their work complies with funder requirements. 


What is a 'transitional agreement'?

The aim of these negotiations with Springer Nature is to achieve a 'transitional agreement' on a read and publish model, in which Springer Nature will receive payment for providing access to their journal portfolio and payment for publishing, bundled into a single contract.This will enable corresponding authors at the University of Cambridge to publish reviews and primary research articles open access in Nature, Nature research journals and Palgrave journals with no article processing charge (APC), as this fee will be met centrally.

This outcome will need to be sustainable and affordable for the whole UK Universities sector. It will enable the University of Cambridge to support the wide dissemination of its research and scholarship - with the further benefit that the process of publishing open access in these journals will be simpler for Cambridge authors.


Why is an OA agreement necessary?

Open access is the best way to ensure that everyone around the world can read and apply your work. Many researchers and funders have been asking for all publications to be open to maximise their reach and impact. UKRI and other funders have specific policies requiring immediate open access for all articles they fund. 

In order to comply with most funders, your article can be made open access in the following ways:

  • through the payment of Article Processing Charges (APCs) to publish without a paywall in a journal that can be accessed openly by everyone, everywhere. If the journal is fully open access, or is hybrid and also part of a transitional agreement, it is often possible to request that your funder pays the APCs on your behalf.
  • if the journal does not offer an open access option, or if it is a hybrid journal but there are no funds to cover APCs, you can still publish the manuscript simultaneously in a publicly-accessible repository such as the University of Cambridge's repository, Apollo. Include a rights retention statement when you submit the manuscript to enable you to do this. 

Hybrid journals give authors the choice to pay an APC and make their article open access, or publish for free but have the article behind a paywall. If you publish in a hybrid journal, it is possible that your funder will only pay for open access charges if that journal is part of a transitional agreement. Funders have made this commitment to transitional agreements in order to help transform scholarly publishing towards the Plan S goal of achieving full and immediate open access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications from research funded by public and private grants.

Nature, Nature research journals and Palgrave journals are hybrid journals that have recently been give transformative journal status by Jisc. As such, they are eligible tor APC payments from block grants, as long as other conditions are met

UK Universities are negotiating to reach an affordable, sustainable OA agreement with Springer Nature that will ensure both that authors can comply with their funder requirements AND be eligible for assistance with the payment of APCs. 


What would happen if we can't reach a deal? 

While we are trying to reach a satisfactory deal with Springer Nature, there is a possibility that UK universities may need to walk away without an agreement. You can read about our Plan B for a scenario when we have to suspend subscriptions, which ensures that our researchers still have access to the articles they need to read.


What to do if you want to publish in these journals now

If you want to submit to a hybrid journal and there are no funds to cover open access charges, you can include a rights retention statement when you submit your manuscript, which enables you to make an open access version of the article available on Apollo immediately at the time of publication. This will make the article compliant with UKRI and many other funders' policies, by enabling everyone to read it for free.

Alternatively, Springer Nature have committed to guarantee a compliant route to publication for UKRI-funded corresponding authors. To take advantage of this mechanism, authors need to contact Springer Nature’s author support team.


Like to know more?

Read the initial briefing paper for members of the University (Raven login required).

You can see data about Springer Nature usage and costs in this slide deck

To discover further details about the negotiations, including what happens whilst these negotiations are ongoing, read in this news item from Jisc.