OA interviews: Juliane Ritt, Springer

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With the raft of policies and mandates that impact researchers and their institutions Sian Harris asks a range of publishers and publishing services companies about their approaches to open access

Juliane Ritt, executive vice president for OA/marketing services at Springer

Open-access publishing has spread globally, but a key challenge remains in educating researchers about it. In some fields, such as biomedicine and life sciences, and in countries like the UK, researchers have become quite familiar with the concept of OA and its requirements.

However, in other fields and countries this is not yet the case. We need to educate researchers about the basics of OA, such as the differences between gold and green, existing policies in their countries and that OA journals follow the same high-quality principles as subscription journals.

This is especially true in countries where new mandates have just been launched, such as China. In countries like Brazil, where researchers are used to publishing OA with no article-processing charges (APCs) via Scielo, we need to explain to researchers and societies who need or want to publish OA why charging APCs is a necessity for our journals.

Many researchers also lack knowledge about the availability of funding. For that reason, we have created an extensive funding database, which provides researchers visiting our website with funding information relevant specifically to them.

When it comes to institutions and funders, challenges can vary significantly depending on their specific interest, how established OA is in that area, and if mandates are already in place or not. These challenges range from administration issues, availability of data, and transparency issues such as funding information, to fundamental financing questions related to the transition from subscription to gold OA publishing. Our approach is to discuss with our partners their specific needs and work together to find solutions.

Springer gives authors the choice under which publishing model they would like to publish. If they opt for OA, they can choose between our megajournal SpringerPlus, more than 400 fully gold OA journals at SpringerOpen and BioMed Central, or our large portfolio of hybrid journals.

The quality and reputation of a journal is still by far the most important factor for an author when choosing where to be published, so authors appreciate such a wide range of choice. Authors also appreciate that we are able to inform them about their funding options, because these are often not clear.

We are strong promoter of the gold route but we also support green. We believe that the gold route is most beneficial, by ensuring high- quality papers and their immediate accessibility to everyone; plus our CC-BY licence leaves authors with no concerns about compliance to funders’ and institutional mandates.

We also support green by allowing the deposit of the author’s accepted manuscript into any repository or pre-print server with an embargo period of 12 months. For self- archiving purposes, authors can post the author’s accepted manuscript immediately on their personal website.

All BioMed Central, Chemistry Central, and SpringerOpen articles are published under the CC-BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution licence – this policy came into effect in early February this year. Before this, articles were published under an earlier version of the CC-BY licence.

Version 4.0 is the most up-to-date version so the work that we publish can benefit from more than a decade of community input and improvement that has gone into the CC-BY licence. This also applies to OA articles published in the majority of Springer’s subscription-based journals using the OpenChoice option.

BioMed Central aims to provide leadership in supporting scientific communities in the sharing of underlying scientific data, publishing it in standard formats, and supporting re-use and further analysis, which helps facilitate the discovery of new knowledge. Data is published under a Creative Commons CC0 waiver. Sharing the underlying data is an increasingly important part of the research and publication process.

Springer encourages the deposit of the dataset related to the outcomes of the research as part of the published article in either a repository or as additional content on SpringerLink. We are also experimenting with data journals, where the data itself are published and peer-reviewed. In the future there will be more options for authors to deposit their data.

At BioMed Central, the approach is both community and infrastructure-based. Open data will be needed to take advantage of technological innovation in the sciences, but currently the standards and guidelines for both managing and publishing that data largely do not exist, and where they do exist, are difficult to find and interpret.

From a community perspective, we are working with organisations such as the Research Data Alliance and Force 11 to help ensure data standards, repositories, and publisher policies are appropriate, linked, clear, and easy to find. With our journal GigaScience, we are partnering with organisations such as the BGI – who have been “doing” open data for over a decade already – to provide researchers with the database infrastructure needed to make all of their research, and not just their article or data, open and reusable.

Through GigaScience, researchers receive credit for all of their research products through DOIs and can showcase their data through an article type specifically created for data, the Data Note. Key to our open data strategy is credit for researchers. Credit will be the motivation needed to make open data the norm in scientific practice.

We will continue to develop further our OA activities and cooperate with funders to develop innovative OA content and models to make sure we will be able to serve the scientific communities better in their needs for OA.

At the same time our subscription-based licensing business – most probably combined with green OA policies – will also still be an important part of our activities in the foreseeable future.