Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Open access is thriving at Nature Publishing Group

Guest post by Amy Bourke-Waite, Senior Communications Manager, Springer Nature

This week is global Open Access Week, with events around the globe. We’re pleased to say that open access is thriving at Nature Publishing Group (NPG).

Amy Bourke-Waite, Senior Communications Manager

Amy Bourke-Waite, Senior Communications Manager

Sixty three per cent of original research articles published on nature.com so far in 2015 are open access, which amounts to nearly 10,000 papers. It was ten years ago that NPG introduced its first fully open access journal. Today, NPG publishes over 80 journals with an open access option, from Nature Communications to Scientific Reports, Scientific Data and our Nature Partner Journals series (to name just a few.)

This year has seen several changes to our growing portfolio. Starting in January 2015, NPG introduced Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as the default open access license option on its 20+ fully owned open access journals. The percentage of authors choosing CC BY across all of NPG’s open access journals has risen dramatically – from 26% in 2014 to 96% in September 2015. Other licenses are still available on demand.

Open Access Week also marks one year since we announced that Nature Communications would become our flagship open access journal, and it has gone from strength to strength in the last year.

Sam Burridge, Managing Director, Open Research at Springer Nature said: “We believe we’re the first of the longstanding science publishers to reach the landmark of over 60% open access content. By switching Nature Communications to full open access one year ago, we demonstrated our willingness to take a bold step and innovate in the open research space, creating a home for the highest quality open research. And we’re encouraging our authors to choose more permissive licenses too.

“By combining our portfolio with BioMed Central, Springer Open and Springer Plus, Springer Nature is the largest publisher of open access articles. But we want to lead on offering outstanding service in open access to authors, not just on scale. We also want to lead the research community in innovation, which is why we are prioritising ‘open research’ – including open data. Our goal is to release the enormous positive power that open approaches can have in facilitating collaborative and interdisciplinary research to solve today’s global challenges.”

Nature Communications is now the leading open access journal in the multidisciplinary science field,* and number three in its Journals Citation Report category after Nature and Science. Research has also shown that open access articles published in Nature Communications are more highly viewed and cited**. Submissions to Nature Communications have increased from 1600 per month in 2014 to 2000 per month in 2015

As the latest step in Nature Communications’ transition, NPG will be making all the legacy subscription content in the journal free to access from January 2016. This includes archives and backfiles. All new content published in Nature Communications in 2016 will be open access, with CC BY as the default license.

Furthermore, yesterday in China, NPG announced npj Pollution Control, a new open access journal in partnership with Tongji University, Shanghai. The journal aims to publish original, high quality research results and breakthroughs in a broad area of environmental science and engineering with relevance to prevention, control, monitoring and mitigation of environmental pollution, to address this global challenge spanning a number of disciplines.

Perceptions of open access are gradually changing for the better. A survey we published earlier this year (available CC BY on figshare) found that in 2014, 40% of scientists who had not published open access in the last three years said “I am concerned about perceptions of the quality of OA publications.” But this year, only 27% said they were concerned. In the humanities, business and social sciences (HSS), the drop was similar; from 54% in 2014 to 41% in 2015. Nonetheless, concerns about perceptions of the quality of OA publications is still the leading factor in authors choosing not to publish OA. Dan Penny, Head of Insights at Nature Publishing Group has said that he believes perceptions are likely to change over time as more open access publications establish strong reputations, funders mandate open access, and authors publish their best research in OA journals.

NPG is involved in a number of events across the globe for Open Access Week, from the USA to UK, China and Australia, involving authors, librarians and early career researchers. You can find out more here.



*Journal Citation Report 2014, Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2015)

** Research published in the journal Scientometrics found Nature Communications articles published open access received higher citations than non-open access content. It also found that open access papers not only have higher total downloads, but experience a more sustained number of downloads over a longer period, where non-open access articles have a shorter period of attention. This supports a study carried out by the Research Information Network of articles published in Nature Communications which found that open access articles are viewed three times more than non-open access content.



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