In June 2020, the University of California (UC) and Springer Nature announced a groundbreaking transformative open access agreement, Springer Nature’s first such agreement in the United States, and the largest transformative open access agreement in North America up to that point. 

The agreement enables UC authors who publish with Springer Nature to make their research freely available to the world to read. Through the agreement, the UC libraries provide funding to cover open access publishing fees for UC authors who publish in Springer Nature journals by redirecting funds previously devoted to subscription fees. In addition, the agreement added reading access to more than 1,000 journals in Springer Nature’s portfolio, along with perpetual access rights to all journals for which there is read access. 

As of August 1, 2022, UC corresponding authors publishing in the Nature portfolio of journals will also be able to publish their articles as open access with financial support from the UC libraries.

The goal of the agreement is to support UC’s mission as a public university and advance the global shift toward sustainable open access publishing by making more UC-authored research articles open to the world, while containing the university’s journal-related expenditures.

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Agreement Basics

What are the basic terms of the agreement?

The Springer Nature agreement runs from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024. The contract period for Nature-branded journals is August 1, 2022 to through December 31, 2024. 

The agreement includes all ten UC campuses. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are not currently included.

This agreement provides financial support from the UC libraries to UC authors who publish open access in Springer Nature’s portfolio of journals, including Adis, Biomed Central, Nature, Palgrave Macmillan, Springer, and Springer Open.

How does the agreement work?

The Springer Nature portfolio includes multiple imprints, and the agreement works differently depending on the portfolio.

For Springer imprints including Adis, Biomed Central, Palgrave Macmillan, Springer, Springer Open, and hybrid Academic journals on Nature.com: 

Beginning January 1, 2021, for UC corresponding authors who publish open access in all eligible subscription and fully open access titles in the Springer portion of the Springer Nature portfolio, the UC libraries will automatically pay the first $1,000 of the open access fee, or article processing charge (APC). Authors who do not have research funds to pay the remainder of the APCcan request full funding of the APC from the UC libraries, ensuring that lack of research funds does not present a barrier for UC authors who wish to publish open access in these journals. For details, see below under “Article Payment Process.” 

The portfolios included in this portion of the agreement include:

  • Academic journals on Nature.com (hybrid journals only; see below for details on fully open access Academic journals on nature.com)
  • Adis (does not include Adis OA titles or Adis Rapid+ journals)
  • Biomed Central
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Springer
  • Springer Open

For Nature titles, including Nature Research journals, Nature fully OA journals, e.g. Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, Nature partner journals, and fully OA Academic journals on Nature.com:

Beginning August 1, 2022, for UC corresponding authors who publish open access in the Nature-branded portfolio, the UC libraries will pay the first $1,000 of the APC for articles in hybrid and open access journals covered by the agreement. For Nature titles, authors will be responsible for paying the remainder due on each APC utilizing research funds available to them. Authors without research funds to pay the APC may publish their articles with Nature on a subscription basis. 

The portfolios included in this portion of the agreement include:

  • Nature Research journals 
  • Nature fully OA journals, e.g., Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, and Nature partner journals, and fully open access Academic journals on Nature.com (See previous section for details on hybrid Academic journals on Nature.com.) 
  • Does not include Nature Reviews

For more information on which Springer Nature titles are covered by the agreement and what open access publishing options are available to UC authors, please see below, “What Springer Nature journals are included in the agreement?

UC has shifted its investment from paying to read Springer Nature journals to paying based on UC authors publishing in Springer Nature journals. Based on careful modeling of UC publication rates, baseline fees have been established, with these amounts paid in bulk by UC. The exact amounts paid will be determined by UC corresponding author choices to publish open access, and how many authors pay the discounted APC using their research funds. 

Impact for Authors

Am I included in this agreement?

Yes, if you are (1) a UC affiliate (faculty, lecturer, staff, graduate student), AND 2) you are the article’s corresponding author, AND (3) you choose to publish your article open access in Springer Nature’s portfolio of journals (see below “What Springer Nature journals are included in the agreement?” for more information on eligible titles). Authors affiliated with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are not included in the publishing aspects of the agreement; it is possible they may be included in future years.

Who is considered a corresponding author?

The corresponding author is defined by Springer Nature as the person who handles the manuscript and correspondence during the publication process – from manuscript correction and proofreading, to handling the revisions and re-submission of revised manuscripts, up to the acceptance of the manuscripts. The corresponding author acts as the main contact for Springer Nature correspondence after editorial acceptance.

The corresponding author has the authority to act on behalf of all co-authors in all matters pertaining to publication of the manuscript, including supplementary material. They are also responsible for obtaining such agreements and for informing the co-authors of the manuscript’s status throughout the submission, review and publication processes.

In addition, the corresponding author of the article who is affiliated with an eligible institution completes the author identification process and acts as the point of contact for any inquiries after the paper is published.

Why am I being asked to use grant money?

The UC libraries are committed to paying a share of the article processing charge for all UC authors who wish to publish open access. However, the libraries’ budget alone cannot cover the full cost of open access publishing for every UC author while also continuing to pay for subscription access where needed.In general, publication costs can be charged to federal grants in the U.S. By contributing grant funds, particularly from federal agencies, UC authors demonstrate their commitment to making their publicly-funded research accessible to the public. Such payment is compliant with federal public access policies (although other routes to compliance, such as open access repository deposit, are also available to authors). Additionally, participating in this way ensures the pool of available funds for UC authors who do not have grant funding will be available to support their open access publishing.

What if I don't have grant money but I want to publish open access with Springer Nature?

For the Springer portion of the Springer Nature portfolio, if you do not have grant money, or your grant funds are insufficient to cover the remainder of the article processing charge beyond the libraries’ standard contribution, the UC libraries will pay your full article processing charge.

For most Nature-branded content in the Springer Nature portfolio, if you do not have available funds to pay the APC remainder, you may elect to publish on a subscription basis.

See below under “What Springer Nature journals are included in the agreement?” for more information on what open access funding options are available to you.

What types of publications are covered by this agreement?

All research articles and review articles are covered by this agreement, including the following article types:

  • Original Papers (reporting on original research) 
  • Review Papers (interpreting previously published results) 
  • Brief Communications (short articles submitted for rapid publication) 
  • Continuing Education  (articles that form an integral part of further education)

Other article types (e.g., editorial material, book reviews) are not covered.

What Springer Nature journals are included in the agreement?

As of January 1, 2021, UC authors publishing in the Springer Nature imprints below automatically receive a $1,000 subvention and have the option to request full funding of the APC from the UC libraries:

  • Academic journals on Nature.com (does not include fully open access titles)
  • Adis (does not include Adis open access titles or Adis Rapid+ journals)
  • Biomed Central
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Springer
  • Springer Open

For more information on the above titles, see Springer Nature’s title list of eligible journals, which is also available through Springer Nature’s webpage about UC’s agreement.

Beginning August 1, 2022, UC authors publishing in the Nature portfolio of journals are eligible for a $1,000 subvention from the UC libraries, but not the option to request full funding:

  • Nature Research journals
  • Nature full open access journals, e.g., Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, and Nature partner journals, and fully open access Academic journals on Nature.com 
  • Does not include Nature Reviews

Descriptions of the different Springer Nature portfolios be found on Springer Nature’s journals page and its About Nature Portfolio Journals page.

If you cannot determine whether a title is covered, please do not hesitate to contact your campus library for assistance.

What if I don't want to publish open access? Can I still publish with Springer Nature?

Yes. While the UC Academic Senate strongly recommends choosing the open access option, where and how you publish is your decision. The agreement with Springer Nature does not mandate open access publishing nor does it dictate your journal selection. Rather, it makes open access publishing a more affordable option, and you can opt out.

Article Payment Process

If I choose to publish open access, how do payments work?

If you are a UC corresponding author of an article accepted in an eligible Springer Nature journal, after you indicate your UC affiliation in the author submission portal, you will be given the option to publish your article as open access and will be notified of the APC funding options available to you under the agreement. The $1,000 contribution from the UC libraries will be automatically applied to the APC cost summary displayed to you.

Then, follow the instructions below for the portfolio in which you are publishing.  

For Springer imprints including Adis, Biomed Central, Palgrave Macmillan, Springer, Springer Open, and Academic journals on Nature.com: 

  • If you have the research funds to pay the remainder of the APC, select “I am able to pay the remainder of the APC.” 
    • You will then be asked to enter billing details, after which Springer Nature will send you an invoice for the APC remainder.
  • If you do NOT have research funds to pay the remainder of the APC, select “I request the full APC to be covered by my institution.” 
    • You do not need to contact your campus’s library to receive funding. Your request will be reviewed within one business day and if approved, your charge will be paid in full by the libraries.
    • You will also be asked to identify the reason that full funding is needed, choosing from a menu of options (e.g., the research is not grant-funded and you have no other sources of funding available; the grant budget did not include money for publishing; etc.)
    • You will not be sent an invoice for the APC remainder.

For Nature titles, including Nature Research journals, Nature full open access journals, e.g. Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, and Nature partner journals:

  • If you have the research funds to pay the remainder of the APC, select “I am able to pay the remainder of the APC.” 
    • You will then be asked to enter billing details, after which Springer Nature will send you an invoice for the APC remainder.
  • If you do NOT have research funds to pay the remainder of the APC, you may elect to publish your article on a subscription basis. Authors without research funds for open access publishing who are interested in publishing in Nature fully open access journals should consider that only the first $1000 of the APC is covered by the agreement, with authors responsible for the remainder.

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