Springer Nature

(October 2018)

Springer Nature is an academic publishing company mainly based in Heidelberg, Germany, created by the May 2015 merger of Springer Science+Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education. Holtzbrinck Publishing Group holds 53% of the company, 47% is owned by the private equity firm BC Partners.


Market position

Share of global article output 2016, open access gold share


Portfolio overview

Open access gold and hybrid shares by the number of articles


APC price points

Mean values of institutional expenses for Springer Nature APCs in 2017 compared to overall mean values in 2017


Publisher approach to the transition to open access

With its imprints BioMed Central and Nature, Springer Nature has become the world’s largest open access publisher. Nature alone accounts for almost three quarters of the publisher’s article open access output (~ 36.000 in 2016), primarily in the mega journals Nature Communications and Scientific Reports.

With its open access licensing scheme “Springer Compact,” Springer was one of the first publishers to take steps towards transitioning its business model from subscription to open access, although official statements refer to their strategy as “flipping countries” rather than “flipping journals” (see a Springer Nature press release).


Characteristics of the transformative agreements negotiated

Springer effectively invented the basic principle of a “publish and read” agreement in 2015 with its “Springer Compact” license agreement. It allows participating institutions to read Springer’s full journal collection while articles from corresponding authors are published open access under a CC-BY license in Springer journals offering a hybrid option. As the model have started before the merger, Nature journals are yet excluded. Typically, Springer Compact license agreements contain the following cost components:


Springer Compact
Publishing Fee

= number of eligible articles x APC



The publishing fee is calculated by multiplying the number of expected articles in one year with an article charge.
Reading Fee
The reading fee in current agreements varies between 5-15% of the total agreement amount.




Agreement details


Lessons learned 2015-2018

Desiderata for future agreements

  • In future agreements, a post-publication payment scheme for articles should be sought, in order to mitigate the risk purchasing a greater than needed quota of articles up front.
  • The option to publish in the Nature imprint, Nature’s open access journals, Springer Open, and BioMed Central journals should be integrated into the agreement.


Share your asessments with ESAC!

We’d like to capture your lessons learned from transformative agreements in order to create an overview of the agreements in place that will help others in their negotiations. Contribute your agreement information and assessments here.

Share comments on Springer Nature

Do you want to share something with regards to Springer Nature that might be helpful to others? Drop a brief comment below! (comments will be moderated)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *