“From January 2021 on, we are pleased to offer authors of primary research papers an expanded array of publishing options, including open access (OA). Nature and the Nature Research journals, including Nature Methods, have become ‘transformative journals’, meaning that while we still offer traditional subscription-based publication, we aim to increase the number of OA papers we publish each year, with the ultimate goal of becoming a fully OA journal….”
“Two newly announced options for authors bring the publications into compliance with Europe’s Plan S initiative, but the fees exceed those of other open-access journals….
Johan Rooryck, executive director of Coalition S, the group of funding agencies representing Plan S, says some of its member funders have indicated they will foot the bill for APCs at Nature journals at least initially, but many have said they won’t….”
“You have to hand it to Springer Nature: they really are trying. Beset, as are all publishers with traditional business models, with challenges concerning open access (OA) from libraries, funders, and authors, SN is attempting to win the prize for Most Cooperative Publisher. This is not purely a recent development; Springer acquired OA pioneer BioMed Central way back in 2008 (it did not merge with the Nature Publishing Group until 2015). It has negotiated numerous “transformative” agreements with various national consortia and funding bodies and appears to have even come to terms with cOAlition S, a populist, authoritarian organization that is attempting to foment a worldwide revolution. (We note in passing that we are always a bit skeptical about organizations that fail to capitalize the first letter of a proper noun.) Until now, however, SN was not working to transform the models of its top-tier journals, usually holding the journals in its Nature portfolio out of comprehensive OA agreements. But that has started to change as evidenced by the announcements of both a new transformative deal with Max Planck and a new OA program whereby authors (or the funders of their work) can now pay to publish (Gold OA) in Nature and certain other journals in the Nature-branded portfolio. Whether this program proves to be successful (and whether the transformative deal with Max Planck proves extensible to other organizations) or not is a critical test of the ability of the company, and the industry at large, to accommodate the growing demands of funders and (mostly European) consortia with the prestige economy of academic research, where Nature sits at the very apex….
It is not only cOAlition S that SN must make happy, alas. Of primary concern to the management, not to mention the owners, is liquidity: how can some portion of the SN asset be converted into cash? SN has tried and failed, tried and failed again to go public. Part of the reason is that the OA business looks to investors like a model that is not ultimately as remunerative as the subscription model it is replacing. Convincing investors that they have figured out an OA long game is therefore essential. If investors do not believe in the strategy, SN may never fetch the price its current owners hope for (and that their creditors demand). What makes this complicated is that investors in Frankfurt and on Wall Street sit on one side of SN’s aspirations and on the other sits a community-anchored movement, many of whose members are characteristically suspicious of capitalism. …”
“Escalating computing power, expanding data sets, and algorithms of unprecedented sophistication have led to a massive increase in the number of journal and conference papers referring to AI in recent years. The Nature Index AI supplement, published today, draws on Nature Index data and the larger Dimensions* from Digital Science database to analyse this rapidly advancing and controversial topic. For the first time, the supplement also includes summaries of research articles created using AI, and it looks more broadly at how AI is being used in scholarly publishing. …”
“This is outrageous. $11,500 is more than scientists earn in a year in some countries, as Forbes blogger Madhukar Pai pointed out. What’s truly outrageous is that they’re asking for this payment from a community that does all the work for them for free. If Nature is going to treat scientists like suckers, it’s time we stopped playing along….
Of course, Nature journals will still allow scientists to publish papers the old-fashioned way, where they don’t pay the €9,500 fee and where the journal then owns the paper. Rather than doing that, or paying the outrageous fee, let’s hope this money grab makes scientists look elsewhere for a place to publish their findings. And while we’re at it, let’s tell the Nature editors we won’t be reviewing for them any longer….”
“How does Nature’s diversity commitment square with their own fee options? Do elite, prestige journals actually care about equity and diversity? Is Nature, one of the largest and most profitable publishers, leading in addressing inequities and setting an example to other publishers? And what do scientists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), people who are rarely consulted, think about Nature’s new policy?
To address these questions, I consulted 20+ scientists from around the world….”
“Guided Open Access (OA) is a ground-breaking initiative designed to make the process of publishing open access simpler, quicker, and more efficient. Ultimately our aim is to help authors publish their work in the most suitable journal with just a single submission.
We will be trialling Guided OA as a pilot on three Nature research journals beginning January 2021: Nature Physics; Nature Genetics; and Nature Methods….”
“What is clear is that these charges are definitely not a surprise. Already back in 2004, in a Parliamentary inquiry in the UK, Nature provided testimony that they would have to charge 10-30k for a Nature paper, given their revenues at the time (i.e., their subscription and advertising income). While back then, most people scoffed at the numbers and expected that no author would ever pay such fees, Nature got to work and invented a whole host of ‘lesser’ journals (i.e., Nature XYC as in “Nature Physics”, Nature Genetics” and so on), which would serve several purposes at once: They increase revenue. As hand-me-down journals they keep desperate authors attached to the Nature brand. As less selective journals, they would bring down average costs per article for the brand total, when they would need to go open access.
So this year, after open access advocates, funders and the now also pandemic-stricken public had kept demanding open access for 16 years after they had been warned, Nature was finally ready to deliver. Due to the dilution of their costs by way of the ‘lesser’ journals, they managed to keep their APCs close to their lower bounds of 2004, despite 16 years of inflation. Given that libraries have been paying these kinds of funds for Nature journals for decades, this price tag then really is a bargain, all things considered….
If you were even later to the party and are outraged now, direct your outrage not to Nature, who are only following external pressures, but to those who exert said pressures, such as open access advocates pushing for APC-OA and funders mandating authors to publish in such journals.”