A consortium of more than 700 research institutions and libraries in Germany has reached an open-access agreement with the publisher Springer Nature, it announced yesterday (August 22), as Science reports. According to the contract, researchers at members of the consortium, called Project DEAL, will be able to publish their articles open-access, meaning that the papers will be free for anyone to read, in exchange for a per-article fee paid by the author. Member institutions will also have full access to the journals’ online content, rather than having to pay subscription fees. The deal excludes Nature and other Nature brand journals, however.
The agreement and others like it function to shift the costs of scientific publishing away from journal readers and toward paper authors and their institutions. Because the cost is per article published, rather than per journal subscription, institutions that publish more will pay more, Gerard Meijer, a member of Project DEAL’s negotiating team, tells Times Higher Ed. “It was wrong in the past that the smaller universities that hardly did any research . . . need[ed] to have a library budget to read what others did,” he says.
The Spring Nature agreement follows a similar one that Project DEAL reached with the publisher Wiley earlier this year. The Wiley deal covered an anticipated 9,500 published articles per year, while the Springer Nature deal is expected to cover 13,500 papers, making it the largest open-access contract to date, according to Science.
Project DEAL, which formed in 2014, has been negotiating with Wiley, Springer Nature, and Elsevier for years. As the consortium failed to reach an agreement with Elsevier, hundreds of Project DEAL institutions have let their Elsevier subscriptions lapse.
According to the agreement, researchers at Project DEAL institutions will be able to publish in about 1,900 Springer Nature journals for €2,750 (or about $3,050) per paper, Science reports. The consortium and the publisher are expected to sign a final contract in the coming months, which will last from 2020 through 2022, with an option to extend one year before new negotiations.
Now that Elsevier is the only one of the big three scientific publishers not to have struck a deal with the German consortium, “It will be very difficult for other publishers, Elsevier in particular, to neglect that,” Project DEAL negotiator Meijer tells Times Higher Ed.
Ashley P. Taylor is a New York–based freelance reporter. Follow her on Twitter @crenshawseeds and read her work at ashleyptaylor.com.