Springer Nature’s chief publishing officer Steven Inchcoombe has proposed a new approach to research publishing which will see publishers move from being “passive enablers” of open access to being “active drivers” of it.
Inchcoombe said the initiative resulted from a rethink after proponents of Plan S - the international initiative which wants all government funded research to be published Open Access by 2020 - rejected his earlier arguments for hybrid journals.
Springer Nature's proposed new publishing standard – “Transformative Publishing” – would cover two main areas. Firstly, publishers would commit to offering ‘transformative’ read-and-publish deals wherever institutions or research funders wish to use them, and to scale them up when in place. Secondly, publishers would commit to adapt hybrid and subscription journals to make them 100% OA for primary research articles, including promoting the benefits of OA to authors, operating a more transparent Article Processing Charge pricing policy, and reporting on the OA/subscription content and usage of its transformative journals portfolio. Publishers would thus move to being at the forefront of measuring, reporting on, and promoting the benefits of OA.
Inchcoombe said: “Back in February, we asked Plan S participants to think again on opposition to hybrid journals. It has become apparent that views have not changed. So, as a publisher that has already been very open about its desire to accelerate the transition to immediate open access, we decided to go back to the drawing board to reconsider what commitments and changes we and other publishers could make to progress the goal of full and immediate OA for all primary research and address the frustrations felt by some funders, policy makers and institutions.”
Inchcoombe said the new proposal was “radical” in encouraging publishers to shift from a passive to an active approach on OA, “where the benefits of OA are promoted to authors at every step of their journey.”
He said: “It has the potential to be truly transformative as it addresses the three main challenges all stakeholders are facing: to grow the supply of journals able to publish OA, to increase the demand from authors and funders, and to move significantly faster to a fully OA world.” Even highly selective journals like Nature could make the Transformative Publishing commitment, Inchcoombe said.
However the move would only work if it was widely adopted. “This means researchers, institutions and funding agencies need to determine if this proposal meets their needs and other research publishers need to determine if they would adopt a comparable approach,” Inchcoombe said.
The industry is currently deep in debate about the business implications of Plan S, with updated implementation guidance on the scheme due be released by cOAlition S later this month, following extensive feedback in the recent consultation.