The Springer publishing company today announced that it is setting up a new open-access journal program. Called SpringerOpen, the program will initially include 12 new online-only, peer-reviewed journals in science, technical, and medical fields.
The Chronicle sat down with Eric Merkel-Sobotta, Springer’s executive vice president for corporate communications, and Bettina Goerner, the company’s manager of open access, to talk about the program. (They were in town for the annual meeting of the American Library Association.) They emphasized that all SpringerOpen journals will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which allows reuse of articles as long as the authors are given credit. So if you’re an instructor who wants to use a SpringerOpen article in a course you’re teaching, “you can include it in course packages without e-mailing Springer’s rights department,” Mr. Merkel-Sobotta said.
The first two journals, Security and Intelligence Informatics and the Journal of Mathematics in Industry, will begin accepting submissions in a couple of weeks, Ms. Goerner said. The first SpringerOpen articles are likely to appear early in 2011. The journals’ subject areas were picked to complement rather than compete with Springer’s existing journals portfolio. BioMed Central, which Springer acquired in 2008, will provide technical support and expertise.
Like most STM journals, SpringerOpen publications will charge author-side fees. There will be a waiver system in place, however, for authors who cannot afford the fees; the waivers will be administered by an independent board, according to Mr. Merkel-Sobotta and Ms. Goerner. BioMed’s Open Access Membership program, which is available to institutions, scholarly societies, organizations that provide funds, and other groups, will include the SpringerOpen journals as well. Springer has also been testing the open-access waters with its Open Choice program, which allows authors to make their articles openly available (in exchange for an open-access fee).
Mr. Merkel-Sobotta told The Chronicle that SpringerOpen represents “the next logical step” for the publisher as it seeks to make open access part of its business model. “Open-access debates have been very similar to debates held in the Middle Ages,” he said, with crusaders and zealots attacking each other. “If you don’t get involved in the extremes, you can actually do something constructive for the scientific community.”
Encouraged by its open-access experiments so far, Springer has also been hearing from groups that provide funds as well as some authors that they have made open-access options a priority, Mr. Merkel-Sobotta said. “Springer has accepted that open access is a sustainable business model” for the company, even if it occupies just one niche in a larger portfolio of publishing operations. “Internally that’s a big step,” he said.