November 23, 2017

University of California Libraries, Springer Strike Open Access Deal

By Andrew Albanese

  • Deal similar to Breoundbreakinfg Max Planck license
  • Initially deemed a pilot project
  • Broader implciations for OA publishing? 
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The University of California (UC) Libraries and Springer Business and Media this week the week announced a groundbreaking new journals licensing deal that will subsidize the open access fees of UC researchers who wish to publish in Springer journals. The agreement, negotiated by the California Digital Library (CDL) on behalf of UC’s ten campuses, mirrors a 2008 Springer deal in Europe, struck with Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society (MPS).

Under the agreement, UC-affiliated authors accepted for publication in a Springer journal will be published using Springer’s Open Choice program, offering “full and immediate open access,” with per-article charges factored into the cost of the overall license. The cost of the license was not released, however, the standard Open Choice author fee is $3000. In addition, “final published articles” will also be deposited in CDL’s eScholarship Repository.

Both parties were careful to describe the deal as an experimental pilot project. Peter Hendriks, president global publishing and marketing at Springer, suggested the deal would help Springer better understand the “effects of open access publishing on usage, citations and impact factors.” The announcement, however, clearly marks a watershed moment for the open access movement: it is the first large-scale open access licensing deal between a major, state-wide library in the United States and the world’s second largest commercial journal publisher—a deal that, if successful, could have a significant impact on the wider marketplace for scholarly journals.

“The Max Planck arrangement was influential to CDL in proposing a similar arrangement to Springer,” Ivy Anderson, director of collections at California Digital Library, told the LJ Academic Newswire. “The initiative was on our side, but Springer has been a very responsive partner.” UC and Springer will cooperate to assess the impact of the deal. “If it’s successful,” Anderson noted, “CDL will certainly seek to extend the arrangement to other publishers.”

For Springer, the deal represents yet another step in the publisher’s exploration of open access publishing, both its effect on disseminating scholarly research, and as an economically sustainable business model. In 2008, after a highly-publicized split in late 2007, Springer and Max Planck agreed to an OA deal, billed as “a two-year experiment.”  In addition, Springer has made similar deals with UKB, a consortium of the universities, the Royal Library of the Netherlands, and with the Georg-August University of Göttingen, which also waive author fees for those institutional researchers choosing to submit to Springer journals using Open Choice. Further boosting its OA portfolio, Springer also acquired pioneering commercial open access publisher BioMed Central in 2008.

While the success of the deal remains to be seen, at the very least the deal will return crucial evidence for the future development of new scholarly publishing models. “UC faculty have told us that they want open access publishing options,” UC’s Anderson noted. “Just as importantly, they want these options in the journals in which they routinely publish, without disrupting their normal research activity. The CDL agreement with Springer supports the transformation that our faculty seeks.”

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