2019 - All Press Releases

Springer Nature comment on revised Plan S guidance

Springer Nature issues commentary on the revised Plan S guidance. 

London, 31 May 2019

We are and continue to be committed to the fastest and most effective route to immediate OA for all primary research and we welcome the inclusion by cOAlition S of some of our most recent feedback in their revised guidance.   

We are pleased to see public recognition of the role that transformative deals play in speeding up the transition to Open Access.  We already have nine such deals in place, the four most mature of which are delivering OA take up rates in those markets of over 70%.  

The inclusion of transformative journals, which reflects the concept we proposed earlier in May, is also important and welcome to see as not every publisher and not every library is able to take part in a transformative deal.  Transformative journals therefore ensure there are viable transition routes available for all stakeholders which, coupled with an increased focus on promoting the benefits of OA, could go a long way to delivering the sustainable transition to OA that we all want to see achieved. This approach could also enable us to introduce an OA option on highly selective journals such as Nature. 

Committing to a review, at the end of 2024, of all aspects of the effects of Plan S’s principles is a good and natural action given the scale of changes and remaining uncertainties we all face. However, since the speed at which research funding bodies and institutions fund OA and authors take up OA is simply not in the control of publishers, the inclusion of a deadline which seeks to predict the outcome of the review is, we believe, unrealistic and potentially counterproductive.    

That is why our transformative publisher proposal focused on delivering a clearly defined set of actions, which in turn if applied successfully will mean publishers can be 100% OA for primary research as soon as the market and our global customers are ready.  With 90% of funders currently not signed up, publishers cannot be expected to supply a rapid increase in the OA pipeline by flipping their journals without matching demand from authors, institutions and funders.  Our proposal has generated useful feedback from a number of other publishers (who, according to Clarivate, last year collectively published over 50% of the Journal Citations Report‘s articles). We would still welcome input from other publishers, especially small and medium sized publishers as well as learned societies as we are keen to discuss this concept further with cOAlition S members and others and work with them all to develop a framework that benefits everyone. 

However, the approach proposed for Green OA requiring a zero embargo and a CCBY licence on the authors accepted manuscript (AAM) is of particular concern as this could have serious unintended consequences.

While the ability to use CCBY-ND licences in instances of special circumstances is welcomed as this was a particular requirement for our HSS authors, the requirement for a zero embargo coupled with a CCBY license as a default on the author accepted manuscript (AAM)  remains a serious concern.  We are fully supportive of CCBY licences and have applied these to the version of record (VoR) for our Gold OA articles for over 10 years. But with a significant amount of a publishers’ investment, expertise and time taken in each individual article happening between submission and acceptance, the AAM represents a significant investment. Being able to earn revenue from this is what enables us to keep improving the publishing process to deal with things like reproducibility and research integrity and ultimately support Green OA where it is the preferred approach of our customers.

We look forward to continuing our discussions, particularly on transformative arrangements and Green OA, and working together with cOAlition S and many others to deliver the transition to OA so the wider goal of open science can also be achieved, and researchers can, by using open data, open protocols, open code, open standards, and greater interoperability of systems, build on the work of yesterday and today to advance discovery in the future.  

About Springer Nature Group

Springer Nature is a leading research, educational and professional publisher, providing quality content to our communities through a range of innovative platforms, products and services. Every day, around the globe, our imprints, books, journals and resources reach millions of people – helping researchers, students, teachers and professionals to discover, learn and achieve more. 


Susie Winter

Director of External Communications

Springer Nature