Project DEAL and Springer Nature strike the world's largest open access deal

Project DEAL and Springer Nature strike the world's largest open access deal

Project DEAL – a consortium of about 700 universities, research institutes, and libraries in Germany – has signed an open access agreement with Springer Nature, one of the world’s leading research publishers. The publish-and-read agreement will allow the consortium members to publish open access in Springer Nature’s fully open access as well as its 1,900 hybrid journals. Additionally, members will have permanent reading access to Adis, Macmillan, and Palgrave journals, which are a part of the Springer Nature portfolio. However, Nature and its sub-branded journals are excluded from this agreement.

The deal is expected to cover about 13,500 articles per year. This surpasses a similar agreement that Project DEAL signed with Wiley, another leading research publisher, earlier this year. Under the Wiley deal, about 9,500 articles a year will be covered, which is close to 4,000 less than the Springer Nature deal. Not surprisingly, the agreement is being called “the world’s largest transformative open access agreement” by both entities.

As part of the deal, authors will pay a publication fee of about $3,050 per article, whereas readers the world over will be able to access these articles for free as per open access practice. While the agreement is presently a memorandum of understanding (MoU), the contract will be completed later in the year. The finalized contract will run from 2020 to 2022, with the option to extend another year. Horst Heppler, Head of Project DEAL, shared, “We are very pleased to have come to an agreement that meets both core goals of Project DEAL: a fair pricing model and a shift towards open access.

Project DEAL was set up to engineer nationwide publish-and-read deals with scholarly publishing journals. Following years of negotiations, the Springer Nature deal marks Project DEAL’s second big success, after the Wiley agreement at the beginning of the year. Project DEAL has also been in prolonged talks with Elsevier, but the negotiations have been unsuccessful so far.

Apart from readers, which open access is intended to benefit, the agreement will also come to the aid of small universities in Germany. Gerard Meijer, a member of Project DEAL, emphasizes, “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.

The agreement marks an increasing push toward open access by researchers, readers, publishers, and governments alike. With other significant deals in Europe in recent times, the impetus for open access only seems to be growing.

On the flip side, the deal has also drawn some criticism owing to the fact that Nature journals are not a part of the agreement. Peter Murray-Rust, an open access advocate who is a chemist at the University of Cambridge, says that, “By omitting Nature, and other flagship scientific journals, the deal solidifies the research publishing scene to major commercial players and rich countries.”

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