The UK universities sector is negotiating a read & publish deal with publisher Springer Nature. Reaching a transitional agreement is particularly important to make it easier for our authors to publish their work open access, as well as continuing to read all of Springer Nature’s content. The deal needs to be affordable for our sector, which is already under financial strain.
The Jisc negotiating team and the University of Cambridge are committed to finding a deal that works well for us, that is our plan A. But we are aware that some previous negotiations between universities and publishers could not find enough mutual ground (for example UCLA and German universities). If a contract can’t be signed, what would that mean for our researchers?
What would we keep access to?
Our current deal with Springer Nature includes perpetual access to some of their catalogue. We would retain access to 69% of content we currently subscribe to, even if we have to walk away from negotiations without a deal. When clicking on these articles, you will be given automatic access if you are connected to a Cambridge network or VPN, or you would be able to gain access from elsewhere with your Raven credentials.
Of course, we would only retain access to historic materials, not new publications. This means that the percentage of articles we have access to will slowly decline over time. The areas most impacted by the loss of access would be Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine. But we have other plans to help people get access to the articles they require.
How would we access other articles?
If the University does not subscribe to an article you need to access, you would still be able to get hold of it, but the process is a little longer. The best thing to do is to install the Lean Library plugin on your device. Lean Library will look for open access content and allow you to access anything to which we retain post-cancellation access.
If you can’t get access through Lean Library, Cambridge University Libraries will help you get the article through an inter-library loan or other routes. The exact process will depend on ongoing work, so look out for further communications about the details.
How would we publish in Springer Nature journals?
Open access publishing is a great way to ensure that everyone in the world can read and apply your work for free. Many funders now require open access as a condition for their funding. As an additional complication, funders including the UK research councils will not pay for open access in hybrid journals, which charge for both subscriptions and open access (what we sometimes call ‘double-dipping’), unless there are transitional read & publish deals in place, or the journal is a transformative journal.
A read & publish deal would mean that the cost of open access publishing is covered by the libraries upstream, and researchers can publish at no additional cost. However, if a deal cannot be reached, many Springer Nature journals would remain hybrid journals. This means that many researchers would be required to publish open access, but have no access to central funds for this.
The solution is the Rights Retention strategy. By signing a pilot agreement with the University and including a rights retention statement in their manuscript, authors will retain their rights to make the manuscript openly available immediately on our repository, Apollo. This way, they will fulfil their funder requirement without having to pay a penny.
It should also be noted that some journals, such as Nature, have put into place specific provisions for researchers whose funders mandate open access.
How will we find out more?
The current contract runs until the end of December 2022 and we are assured of a grace period stretching to February 2023, during which access will continue if negotiations are ongoing.
We will continue to update our website as more information becomes available. An announcement will be made by email across the University once the outcome of the negotiations is known. Please email email@example.com or speak to your librarian if you have any questions.