Happy birthday to Springer’s open access books programme!

Did you know that it is five years since Springer launched an open access books programme?

Springer was one of the first major publishers to offer open access (OA) books, and the first science, technology and medicine publisher to do so. A year before the official launch of its OA books programme in August 2012, Springer published its first OA book: Future Internet Assembly 2011: Achievements and Technological Promises (Editors: Domingue, J., Galis, A., Gavras, A., Zahariadis, T., Lambert, D., Cleary, F., Daras, P., Krco, S., Müller, H., Li, M.-S., Schaffers, H., Lotz, V., Alvarez, F., Stiller, B., Karnouskos, S., Avessta, S., Nilsson, M.).

Alfred Hofmann, then editor and now vice president at Springer, describes the challenges of creating the first OA book. “The project was difficult to realize within Springer as nobody had experience regarding OA book publishing at that time,” says Hofmann. This was before many publishers had begun to offer OA for books. But there was a definite need to support OA publication:

“The Future Internet Assembly series was a sequence of conferences sponsored by the European Community, which already at that time advocated OA publication of research results developed with EC-sponsored activities,” explains Hofmann.

Alfred Hofmann: Vice President, Springer

“Open access is a requirement for all projects funded by Horizon 2020 […] so it was imperative to use the open access model in order to obtain a sufficient large number and high quality contributions from authors,” added Anastasius Gavras, one of the contributing editors of Future Internet Assembly 2011.

With this need in mind, Springer challenged the status quo, successfully changing internal workflows and establishing a pricing model through a book processing charge (BPC), as well as approving use of a Creative Commons license so that Gavras and co-editors could publish Future Internet Assembly 2011 in compliance with their funder’s open access policy.

Experiencing the benefits of open access

Compliance with funder requirements is just one of the reasons for publishing a book open access. There are many benefits for an author choosing to publish their research as an OA book, from increased discoverability and visibility, immediate online access, widened readership outside of their traditional research community, increased potential for collaboration, or career progression.

Gavras confirmed that in the case of Future Internet Assembly 2011, “Open access contributed to increased visibility of the published works, and to the level of citations per chapter.” In addition, the “wider reach into the scientific community may have indirectly contributed to new opportunities,” he says.

In addition to SpringerLink, our comprehensive online delivery platform, all SpringerOpen books and chapters are listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) and, where appropriate, PubMed’s NCBI Bookshelf. We also work with Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. Inclusion on these sites enhances the visibility and discoverability of authors’ work. As a result, open access books on SpringerLink are downloaded an average of seven times more than non-OA books.

Bookmetrix is a unique platform that Springer Nature developed in partnership with Altmetric to offer authors a comprehensive overview of the reach, usage and readership of their book or chapter. Using this tool, Gavras is able to track the impact of publishing an OA book. Future Internet Assembly 2011 has so far attracted over 505,000 chapter downloads since the current version of SpringerLink went live in 2012. Bookmetrix shows this to work out at around 15,000 downloads of the full book. Gavras has since published further open access books with Springer for these reasons.

Source: Bookmetrix

Open access books today

Since its launch five years ago, Springer Nature has published over 300 open access books across its Springer, Palgrave and Apress imprints, covering a wide range of disciplines within science, technology, medicine, humanities and social sciences.  The notable open access books list includes author Gerard t’Hooft, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics and co-author Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and winner of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award.

SpringerOpen books are subject to the same high level peer-review, production and publishing processes followed by traditional Springer books and they are freely and immediately available online for anyone to download. The BPC covers all the costs of commissioning, copyediting, proofreading, production, dissemination and promotion. Readers worldwide can share and reuse books and chapters published open access using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License, ensuring maximum reuse as well as enabling authors to retain copyright for their work.

Authors interested in experiencing the benefits of OA publishing should get in touch with a Springer publishing editor to find out more.

Christina Emery, Marketing Manager – Open Access Books, Springer Nature

Useful links

Springer’s 175th anniversary

Learn more about SpringerOpen books

Browse Springer Nature’s open access book list

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