Issue 6 October 2010

Open Access in a Nutshell

Open Access is a topic that has widely and even passionately been discussed in the last few years. Closely tied to the emergence of digital content, Open Access scientific literature is largely characterized by being digital, available online, free-of-charge to the end user and free of most copyright restrictions.

Even though the costs of distributing printed information are decreasing gradually, the costs of sustaining quality, organizing peer-review and the platforms publications are disseminated through – are not to be neglected. Therefore, Open Access publishing for the most part is financed upfront by the author or their funding institutions rather than through post-publication charges like traditional subscription models. The last few years of working with Open Access have shown that there is a growing demand for Open Access as an alternative publishing business model.

Springer’s Approach to Open Access

Springer's Open Access Track Record

Among the major STM publishers, Springer is considered to be the most proactive one to embrace the Open Access idea. Our objective is not only to be responsive to new developments, but also to keep authors’ and customers’ needs in mind instead of simply defending the perceived publisher’s stake in the Open Access debate.
There are many new initiatives within the community of scholarly communication that are part of these developments. A very recent example is “The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity”, an agreement signed by five of the United States of America’s best-known universities in which they commit to supporting the Open Access schemes of their faculty. Springer is well-prepared to comply with these initiatives and is looking forward to continue the Open Access journey.

The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity

2004: Springer Open Choice introduced

In 2004, with the introduction of our own hybrid Open Access model called Springer Open Choice, we laid down the foundations for a viable Open Access strategy that incorporated author, publisher and customer interests alike. About 1,300 of Springer’s 1,700 STM journals are hybrid journals, allowing authors to choose whether they would like to publish their article within the context of a subscription or make them openly accessible to everybody for a fee upfront.

2007: Pioneering Institutional Experiments

Another groundbreaking development in the last couple of years has been Springer’s special Licensing meets Open Access experiments with renowned institutions like the Max Planck Society in Germany or the California Digital Library.
The deals not only cover access to journal content but also Author Processing Charges (APC) for Open Choice by researchers affiliated with these institutions.

2008: Reacting to the NIH debate

Publishing agreement compliant with NIH Public Access Policy.

2008: Springer acquires BioMed Central and becomes the largest open access publisher

The next step by Springer towards an integrated Open Access approach was taken in late 2008 with the acquisition of BioMed Central, the largest commercial Open Access publisher worldwide.
There is a lot to learn from each other, be it author relations or long-standing STM experience. Derk Haank, Springer’s Chief Executive Officer is of the opinion that the acquisition of BioMed Central reinforced “… the fact that we see Open Access publishing as a sustainable part of STM publishing, and not an ideological crusade. We have gained considerable positive experience since starting Springer Open Choice in 2004, and BioMed Central’s activities are complementary to what we are doing.”

2009: Driving collaboration in open access

Engagement in publicly funded SOAP and PEER projects.

2010: Springer launches SpringerOpen

Open access for authors in all disciplines.

SpringerOpen is a forthcoming series of open access journals. The SpringerOpen journals will complement Springer's existing titles and BioMed Central’s growing portfolio of 200+ open access journals in medicine and life science.
The first journals, such as Journal of Mathematics in Industry and The Journal of Mathematical Neuroscience have opened to receive submissions and start publishing in early 2011.

For more information please visit:

Springer Open Choice – An Interview with Wim van der Stelt

Wim van der Stelt is Executive Vice President of Business Development and heads all Springer Open Choice operations at Springer

Springer’s Open Access model, Springer Open Choice, is a hybrid model. What are the advantages for the author, precisely?

Our hybrid model “Open Choice” gives the author the freedom to choose how the article is published and this choice applies to almost all Springer journals. This means you can stick to your favorite Springer title and still choose Open Access. Publishing the article with Open Access makes it immediately freely available to everyone everywhere. The author can also retain the copyright, and make the article immediately available at his/her funder’s repository.

Can you talk us through the special “hybrid bundle” experiments that Springer has negotiated with the Max Planck Society, the Californian Digital Library and other institutions?

In these experimental arrangements between Springer and certain libraries, the costs for publishing all articles of the faculty members with Open Access, are covered by the agreement. The author can choose Open Access with all its advantages and will not be invoiced individually. These experiments give the library the chance to test and evaluate the uptake of Open Access by their scholars and have once more proven Springer’s constructive approach towards Open Access.

Is there a direct correlation to be found between openly accessible articles and their online usage? Are they downloaded or cited more often than their traditional subscription/licensing-based counterparts?

We are seeing increased downloads for Open Access articles, but we are not yet seeing an effect for citations, so it probably is too early to tell.

Can you tell us a little about the current discussions or trends related to Open Access within the scholarly community?

The most impressive development is that more and more institutions, libraries and funders are developing open access policies. Furthermore, they also realize that publisher added-value must be paid for and they are thus making so-called “Gold Open Access Funds” available. Scientists can use this funding to cover the publication fee of Open Access articles.

Open Access – A Glossary

“Gold” Open Access

Publication of an article by Open Access publishers or in typically peer-reviewed Open Access journals and financed either upfront through publishing fees or through public or private funds.

“Green” Open Access

The concept of researchers self-archiving their work in online repositories (personal, institutional or subject-specific). Refers to mostly un-refereed work ( pre-prints) or manuscripts (post-prints) rather than final, published articles.

Open Choice

Open Choice is Springer’s hybrid Open Access publishing model. Most of Springer’s journals allow authors to choose whether they would like to publish their article the traditional way (as a toll access article) or as an Open Access article incurring a publishing fee of USD 3000/EUR 2000.

Hybrid journals

Refers to those journals that publish Open Access as well as subscription-based (toll-access) articles. Most of Springer’s journals are hybrid journals, i.e. subscription journals also allowing Open Access articles. It is important to emphasize that in-depth peer review is carried out for all articles that does not distinguish between open and toll access.

Toll access articles

Toll access articles are all those articles published the traditional way and that are paid for through subscriptions typically paid by libraries.

Sponsored Open Access

Authors that have decided to make their work openly accessible need to bear the costs of publication. Very often they are funded through the institution, library or company they are affiliated with and receive sponsorship of their Open Access article. Occasionally, the institution or society related to a journal decides to pay the fees for all authors.

For more information please visit:

BioMed Central’s Approach to Open Access

An Alternative Business Model to Traditional Publishing

  • BioMed Central’s portfolio includes some 200 “Gold” Open Access journals, many with citation tracking and impressive Impact Factors
  • All original research articles published by BioMed Central are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication
  • Instead of charging page and color figure charges or institutional subscriptions, BioMed Central works with Article Processing Charges (APC) to cover the publication costs
  • The author’s needs are the main focus of BioMed Central’s Open Access approach: Ensuring free access to all users, high visibility, speed of publication, indexing in PubMed Central, copyright retention, peer review, quality of content and much more
  • Manuscript submissions to BioMed Central journals have soared over the past 10 years

For more information please visit:

BioMed Central