University of Kent and Springer Nature

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The “read and publish” agreement between academic publisher Springer Nature and UK Universities was due for renewal by the end of 2022. Discussions were ongoing throughout the year but a new agreement was not reached by 31st December 2022. We are now in a grace period of access which has been extended to March 2023 while negotiations continue.

What does this mean for Kent?

The University of Kent’s subscription to Springer Nature (SN) enabled the University to read Springer Nature journals and also publish open access articles with costs covered in more than 2,000 Springer hybrid journals. A new agreement must seek to encompass the whole Springer Nature Portfolio (Springer Compact, Nature journals, Palgrave journals), and their fully open access journals. This would allow continued read access to SN online and our authors to publish open access in SN journals at no extra cost.

For Kent, the publishing aspect of the Springer agreement enabled a good volume of Kent research to be made available world-wide open access; it represented value for money and provided an easy process for our academics. (In 2022, 41 Kent articles were made OA under the agreement costing Kent £40,000. Outside of the agreement it would have cost £90,000 to make each of these articles OA, so Kent saved £50,000 by having this agreement in place). We also pay Springer for additional subscriptions to individual Nature titles in addition to the titles covered by the current agreement . This costs Kent an additional £97,000. This means the current proposal would make Springer one of our most expensive suppliers and the APC charge to publish open access in Springer Nature Research journals is also one of the highest.

Negotiating criteria

University of Kent supports Jisc’s criteria for negotiations. A new agreement must:

  • Reduce costs
  • Be transitional and temporary
  • Permit compliance with funder mandates
  • Be transparent
  • Make open access content discoverable
  • Must support improvements in service and workflow for authors and administrators.

How we work with JISC

Our Working with JISC webpage provides more detail about how JISC negotiate and how we liaise with JISC on behalf of Kent academics.

What happens if an agreement is not reached?

We will keep you updated and have an action plan ready should negotiations fail, and the sector walks away. 

Read Access: We have substantial online backfiles to which we would retain access. These would continue to be accessible via LibrarySearch or Browzine for you to discover and read. We would not have access to new content from within the current SN package and in these instances where we do not have a subscription we will help you get the article via Document Delivery or other routes. We would retain access to the Nature Research titles where we have individual subscriptions.

We are also making it easier to find and use open access material. LeanLibrary is a service we are currently trialling. LeanLibrary is a browser extension that provides direct and easy access to open access articles. This means that you are able to view open access articles from within LibrarySearch or search engines. 

Publishing: You would need to publish Open Access in Springer Nature titles through the free Green route by making your Author Accepted Manuscript available in KAR upon publication with a CC BY licence. This is a requirement for articles acknowledging UKRI or Wellcome funding. If you use our REF Assisted Deposit Service we can do this for you.

We strongly recommend that authors include the rights retention statement below in any submissions to Springer Nature journals (including Nature titles).

For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising

You will not be able to use the UKRI block grant to pay for APCs separately in any of the Springer Nature journals (including Nature titles). This is because UKRI and other funders are no longer willing to pay for open access in hybrid journals, which charge for subscriptions and APCs, unless there is a read and publish (transformative) agreement in place or the journal is a transformative journal.  The aim is to constrain and manage payments to publishers by preventing “double dipping”.

You can search for alternative journal titles to publish in using our Read and Publish journal search.

The library can help you navigate all these alternative options for read and publish.

Do you have an opinion?

We are keen to hear what you think and ensure that our response to the negotiations represents the views and needs of our researchers across all disciplines. JISC request that academic colleagues do not engage directly with Springer on this issue. Please contact with any queries.

You can read about the negotiations from Jisc


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