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Landmark Transformative Agreement reached between Springer Nature and University of California

First transformative agreement in North America for Springer Nature will also be the largest in the United States

London | New York 16 June 2020

Springer Nature, the largest open access (OA) publisher, and the University of California (UC) have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a transformative agreement (TA). The agreement, which is the largest transformative open access agreement in North America to date, and the first for Springer Nature in the U.S., signals increasing global momentum and support for the open access movement.

The agreement will accelerate OA research in the US and make US-funded research more visible, usable, reusable and reproducible around the world more quickly.  It will enable all UC researchers to publish OA in Springer Nature’s portfolio of over 2200 hybrid journals as well as in over 500 Springer Nature fully OA journals, including those in the BMC portfolio.  It also provides reading access to all journals in the Springer portfolio which represents over 1000 additional new titles, delivering benefits to librarians and researchers.

It is a significant first step in UC and Springer Nature’s OA partnership.  The MOU also commits both parties to the following important partnerships with the Nature Research portfolio:

  • Expanding support for the fully OA portfolio to include the Nature Research fully OA titles including Nature Communications and Scientific Reports in a next phase as funding allows.
  • Launching a joint pilot project with Nature Research to explore the impact and scope of open science content which will provide insight and learnings that can be exported elsewhere in the US, and beyond.
  • Developing a transformative path for the Nature Research subscription journals includingNature, to be fully operational in the third year of the agreement. 

Transformative agreements are complex and no two customers are the same. Springer Nature’s  investment in purpose built OA-led technological solutions has enabled the company to offer a flexible framework to its TA partners based on their needs and objectives. Under this specific arrangement Springer Nature will provide a multi-payer workflow which will allow both library and research funds to contribute to the APC cost. Given the complex and evolving OA funding landscape, it is expected that this workflow will be beneficial in enabling others who wish to embark on the transition to OA within the US and beyond. 

Commenting Frank Vrancken Peeters, Chief Executive of Springer Nature, said:

This agreement represents a significant milestone in the global transition to gold OA.  I am delighted that we have been able to establish such an important partnership with the University of California which has been possible because of our shared commitment to opening up research.  It demonstrates that gold OA is possible even when funding is complex and puts the US firmly on the path to OA.  Furthermore, it shows that the transition to OA can be compatible with protecting library budgets while supporting research output growth.  

Commenting Charlotte Liu, Chief Commercial Officer of Springer Nature, said:

“Our experience, which comes from having the most national transformative deals of any publisher and now deals across North America, Asia and Europe, shows that there is no one size fits all model for these agreements.  This is why we have invested to ensure that we have the technical flexibility to be responsive to individual funding partners’ objectives and requirements and, as demonstrated here, able to take into account different regions' funding landscapes.” 

Springer Nature signed its first TA in 2014 with the Netherlands and now has eleven national agreements in place including the world’s largest by article volume with Projekt DEAL in Germany. This represents a significant milestone in the global open access journey and puts the US on the path to full OA; evidence shows that countries with these agreements see between 70% - 90% of their authors publishing OA.

Commenting Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, said: 

“During my years leading the University of California, I have fervently supported expanding knowledge through various avenues, including access to research. Now, more than ever, as we seek to better understand and combat COVID-19, it is abundantly clear why researchers need immediate, unfettered access to each other’s work to spur new discoveries and make timely advancements in health care.”

Commenting Ivy Anderson, associate executive director of the California Digital Library, who co-chairs UC’s publisher negotiation team with Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian and economics professor at UC Berkeley, said:

 “Springer Nature has shown real leadership in embracing the move toward open access. We are delighted at the prospect of working together to advance the free exchange of ideas and knowledge that will better the world.” 

Key elements of the MoU:

  • The final contract will run from 2020 to 2023.  During 2020, after signature of the contract and before the multi-payer mechanism is implemented, UC authors will be able to publish their articles with OA as the default option in Springer hybrid journals at no additional cost.
  • From 2021, all UC corresponding authors will be able to publish their articles with OA as the default within the Springer Nature Hybrid Portfolio as well as in the Fully OA BMC and SpringerOpen journals, with financial support from the UC libraries.
  • Springer Nature will offer a 15% discount on the list price article processing charges for OA publishing in BMC and SpringerOpen titles; the 2020 list price will be used in 2021, and price increases of article processing charges in subsequent years will not exceed 3.5% per journal title. For the hybrid portfolio, the list price for 2021 is set at the 2019 APC level with a 2% increase in the last year of the agreement (2023). 
  • From 2021, the OA agreement will include the multi-payer model approach that will see UC cover the first US$1,000 of each APC for applicable titles. The remainder due on each APC will be covered either by the authors themselves (utilizing research funds available to them), or by UC when such funds are unavailable. Authors publishing in hybrid journals will be able to opt out of OA publishing if they so choose.
  • An open science pilot study for the Nature branded subscription journals will be jointly undertaken in 2021, to be accompanied by planning for a transformative agreement for Nature and the Nature-branded journals to be available at the beginning of 2022.  Nature Research fully OA journals will also be addressed in a later phase. 
  • UC will have complimentary backfile access to issues of included journals during the contract period back to 1997. 
  • Going forward, the agreement grants UC with permanent reading access to over 2,200 journals in the Springer, Palgrave, Adis and Macmillan portfolios.

About Springer Nature

For over 175 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies. 

As a research publisher, Springer Nature is home to trusted brands including Springer, Nature Research, BMC, Palgrave Macmillan and Scientific American. For more information, please visit and @SpringerNature


Susie Winter | External Director of Communications

Rachel Scheer | Head of Communications USA