Nature to publish open-access papers from January 2021

Deal with Max Planck institutes puts cost of publishing article in prestigious journal at £8,600

October 20, 2020
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Source: istock

Academics will be able to publish open-access papers in the prestigious Nature and Nature-branded journals from January, the titles’ owner has said.

Springer Nature confirmed the shift as it announced a four-year deal allowing researchers affiliated with Germany’s Max Planck institutes to publish their research in open-access format and at no extra cost in all of the company’s titles from the start of 2021. Under the “read and publish” deal, which will now be offered to other German institutions, subscribers will also get reading access to all Springer Nature periodicals, including Nature.

This marks the first time that Nature and its accompanying portfolio of titles have been included in any open-access agreement.

Springer Nature said that it was “developing further [open access] options for Nature and the Nature-branded research journals”, allowing authors from elsewhere in the world wishing to publish in open-access format to do so “for papers submitted from January 2021”. “Information on this will be announced later in the year,” Springer Nature said.

The Max Planck agreement builds on a deal signed between Springer Nature and Project Deal, the German national negotiating consortium, last year. Reading fees from Max Planck’s existing subscription deal will be reallocated into support for open-access publishing based on a cost of €9,500 (£8,600) per article.

That high figure reflected the highly selective and resource-intensive cost model of Nature-branded journals, said Frank Vrancken Peeters, Springer Nature’s chief executive, who described the latest agreement as a “ground-breaking moment”.

“Publishing far fewer articles compared with the number of submissions they evaluate, with hundreds of dedicated in-house professional editors personally guiding authors through the peer-review process, and providing news, information and context on the major scientific stories of the day, Nature and the Nature-branded research journals are unlike any other journals,” he explained.

“Finding such a realistic transitional model with the Max Planck Society Library marks an exciting development in the history of our flagship journal,” he added, saying the agreement will “enable hundreds of authors across Germany to publish their research in Nature knowing that it will be open and accessible to all from the moment of publication.

Klaus Blaum, vice-president of the Max Planck Society’s scientific council for chemistry, physics and technology, said: “Having the opportunity to publish original research articles openly in such a highly selective and reputable journal as Nature will be an enormous opportunity for scientists in Germany, but an even greater benefit for researchers everywhere who will be able to learn from and build on their findings, accelerating the very process of the advancement of science.” 

Ralf Schimmer, head of information at the Max Planck Digital Library, said he was “extremely proud of having reached agreement on a realistic approach for transitioning high-profile journals like Nature to open access”.

“By restructuring the financial streams around scholarly publishing, we can liberate journals from subscription-based paywalls for the benefit of science and society,” he said.

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