Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Springer statement on the NIH policy and the surrounding debate

Springer Statement on the Debate on the NIH’s Public Access Policy, an announcement from Springer, September 14, 2007.  Here it is in its entirety:

Researchers should have a choice
Funding bodies, including government funding agencies, should leave it up to researchers to decide where to publish their results. 

No such thing as a free lunch
If funding agencies desire the results to be published in an open access format, they should make this financially possible for researchers and their institutions by providing the means to do so.  Unfunded mandates put researchers in an unfair position from which they have no proper means to escape. 

Added value must be financed
As a result, we fully support open access mandates that take into account the economic value of a proven, useful system of ordered, layered and certified scientific knowledge that is currently performed by academic peer-reviewed journals.  Unfunded mandates are not a sustainable route to open access. The question of funding the system of stratified certification must be addressed properly.

Springer supports dialogue
Springer is committed to participating in a scholarly, and respectful, debate with all parties concerned with the future of scientific publishing.  Our track record speaks for itself:  In 2005, we launched Springer Open Choice™ which gives researchers and their institutions the option of deciding, after the completion of the peer-review process, whether to publish in an open access format for a fee, or by using a traditional, subscription-based model.


  • The NIH allows grantees to decide where to publish their results and it allows grantees to use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals. 
  • The second and third paragraphs are confused and confusing.  In the second paragraph, if "published in an open access format" refers to gold OA, then it's not relevant to the current debate.  Neither Congress nor the NIH is considering a policy to require publication in an OA journal.  If "published in an open access format" should be taken more broadly to include green OA, then the rest of the argument is not relevant to the current debate.  The NIH's green OA program is fully funded.
  • In the third paragraph, is Springer saying that it only supports green OA mandates when they include money for gold OA?  (If so, does it support a green OA mandate at the NIH, given that the NIH does provide money for gold OA?)  Or does it only support gold OA mandates?  Either way, the reference to "unfunded mandates" is misleading.  Neither the green OA policy nor the gold OA policy is unfunded, and for the time being neither is a mandate.
  • If Springer is saying (in both the second and third paragraphs) that a green OA mandate will undermine subscriptions at peer-reviewed journals, and thereby undermine peer review, then see my detailed answer to that objection in this month's SOAN.
  • In the final paragraph, I think I detect a polite rebuff to PRISM?  Do you?