Berlin deal ‘sets scene for world’s most comprehensive OA agreement’

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Springer Nature has signed a memorandum of understanding with MPDL Services, on behalf of Germany’s Projekt DEAL, which the organisations describe as setting the scene for the ‘world’s most comprehensive open access agreement’.

The agreement, signed this morning (22 August) in Berlin, is expected to see more than 13,000 articles a year from German researchers published under open access, meaning they will be freely and universally available for the world’s students, scholars and scientists to read, share, use and reuse from the moment of publication.  

The two-part agreement will encompass a fully open access (OA) element and a ‘publish and read’ (PAR) element. This will enable eligible authors to publish OA in both Springer Nature’s fully OA journals and its collection of 1,900 hybrid journals. In addition, the model provides the academic community of the participating institutions with permanent reading access to content in Springer, Palgrave, Adis, and Macmillan academic journals published during the term of the contract.

Project DEAL (Projekt DEAL) is a consortium of university libraries and research institutes in Germany, negotiating large deals with e-journal publishing houses.

The final contract will run from 2020 to 2022 with an option to extend to 2023.  

For 2020, the PAR component is based on OA publication of at least 9,500 articles and grants participating institutions with permanent reading access to 1,900 journals in the Springer, Palgrave, Adis and Macmillan portfolios. The costs for reading access and OA publishing in the PAR component will be reflected in a per-article PAR fee of €2,750.

Springer Nature says it will offer a 20 per cent discount on the list price for OA publishing in BMC and SpringerOpen titles for all institutions; list price increases of article processing charges will not exceed 3.5 per cent per journal title per year calculated based on the 2020 list price. The PAR element does not include Nature and Nature branded subscription journals or purely professional journals as well as magazines, such as Scientific American or Spektrum der Wissenschaft.

Daniel Ropers, chief executive officer of Springer Nature, said: ‘It is a real privilege to be working with Projekt DEAL to transform research publishing in Germany. This arrangement has taken three years to finalise, which reflects its scale and complexity, but we highly appreciate the leadership the German research institutions have shown, and in partnership we’ve been able to conclude this journey with a ground-breaking solution.

‘The shared belief, commitment and openness of both parties has facilitated an understanding which is sustainable for both partners: for German research, as it enables scientists in Germany, whether from small or large institutes, whether from the physical, natural, applied or social sciences, and whether grant funding has been available or not, to publish OA with us. And for Springer Nature, as it facilitates faster growth, allowing us to benefit from our leading role in the open access migration as a partner to the research community.’

Horst Hippler, former President of the German Rectors' Conference, speaker of the steering committee and head of Projekt DEAL, added: ‘We are very pleased to have come to an agreement that meets both core goals of Projekt DEAL: a fair pricing model and a shift towards open access. The long publishing history of Springer Nature is highly respected in the German research community and through this agreement the publisher has shown to be an innovative and open partner ready to deliver the solutions that are best for science and the scholarly endeavour.

‘The emerging contract will thus significantly contribute to making research accessible in an affordable and sustainable manner. I would like to thank the many people involved in the negotiation process and the hundreds of institutions in our scientific community – universities, libraries, research institutions – who endowed Projekt DEAL with their trust and mandate for the negotiations on their behalf. I also thank the Max Planck Society for their support – not exclusively but especially – in the operational and legal aspects on the road to making the contract a reality.’

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