UC system announces open access agreement with Springer Nature

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The UC system announced an open access, or OA, agreement Tuesday with publishing company Springer Nature, which will give UC campuses access to more than 1,000 new scientific journals.

Springer Nature is the world’s second-largest academic publisher. Under part of the agreement, the UC system will gain unlimited reading access to many scientific journals to which it does not currently subscribe to.

The contract will not only provide additional resources to the UC faculty, students and researchers, but also help with cost reduction, according to Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, UC Berkeley’s university librarian and co-chair of the UC system’s publisher negotiation team.

“We agreed to this deal with Springer Nature because it meets our key goals (open access publishing and cost reduction),” MacKie-Mason said in an email.

The UC system will see an immediate reduction in spending and can save money that can be invested in other scholarly resources and communications efforts, according to MacKie-Mason.

Though many scientific articles are already distributed remotely, the contract will also result in more than 1,500 research articles by UC faculty, students and other researchers being published with OA. OA articles are free for anyone in the world to read, which MacKie-Mason said he sees as the most important outcome of the contract.

“The publicly funded scholarship and scientific discoveries at UC will be read and used by more scientists, medical professionals, government officials, educators, nonprofit organizations and private citizens everywhere, including in less-developed nations,” MacKie-Mason said in the email.

He added that allowing published work by UC faculty, students and researchers to be freely available to all will increase the impact of UC scholarship and strengthen its reputation.

Susie Winter, director of communications and engagement at Springer Nature, said this agreement with the UC system helps put the United States on the path to OA.

“This agreement has been possible because of the shared commitment from Springer Nature and the University of California to opening up research and demonstrates that gold OA is achievable even when funding is complex,” Winter said in an email.

MacKie-Mason said making research freely available to the public has been central to the UC system’s mission as a public institution for the past two decades.

The UC system began a project to accelerate the disruption of the scholarly publishing industry in 2016, according to MacKie-Mason, and has been working since 2018 to sign “transformative” OA publishing agreements.

“Because it is with the second-largest publisher in the world, it will influence other publishers and support our goal of converting the entire industry to open access publishing,” MacKie-Mason said in the email.

The contract will likely go into effect early fall and no later than January 2021, MacKie-Mason said. According to a campuswide email from the UC Berkeley Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, the OA publishing provisions of the contract will run through 2023.

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.

A previous version of this article may have implied that UC campuses did not have access to more than 1,000 scientific journals prior to the agreement with Springer Nature.