The journals will charge authors up to €9,500 to make research papers free to read, in a long-awaited alternative to subscription-only publishing.
Publisher Springer Nature has announced how scientists can make their papers in its most selective titles free to read as soon as they are published — part of a long-awaited move to offer open-access publishing in the Nature family of journals.
Given the cost of an institutional subscription, we are not sure this constitutes a Rolls Royce price. A reasonable question is, will this break the model? People want to publish in Nature so they can say they published in Nature. A member of the AHRECS team has had 5 Nature papers as a co-author and the relevant university thought it was so special they gave their research fund a significant internal boost each time. In that case, they did not take the funds as a personal reward as some did. But truly, was the Nature paper any better than any other paper that year? Probably not. The problem is, our focus on publication in high-profile journals is distorting research in counterproductive ways.
OA advocates are pleased that the publisher has found ways to offer open access to all authors, which it first committed to in April. But they are concerned about the price. The development is a “very significant” moment in the movement to make scientific articles free for all to read, but “it looks very expensive”, says Stephen Curry, a structural biologist at Imperial College London.
The change was spurred by the ‘Plan S’ movement, in which funders are mandating that their grant recipients must make their work OA as soon as it is published; the funders will generally cover researchers’ costs for this in journals that meet their requirements. Last month, Springer Nature signed a deal that allowed some German scientists to publish openly in Nature-branded journals for free, with a €9,500-per-article price baked into their institutions’ subscription fees. But today’s announcement reveals the options for any author who wants to publish OA. (Nature is editorially independent of its publisher.)