What is open access?

Open access publications are freely and permanently available online to anyone with an internet connection. Unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium is permitted, provided the author/editor is properly attributed.

Open access has gained tremendous support from both authors, who appreciate the increased visibility of their work, as well as science institutions and funders, who value the societal impact of freely available research results.

What are the benefits of open access publishing?

  • Free availability thanks to unrestricted online access
    Open access publications are freely available online to anyone, which maximizes the visibility, and thus the uptake and use of the work published.
  • Authors retain copyright
    The use of a Creative Commons License enables authors/editors to retain copyright to their work. Publications can be reused and redistributed as long as the original author is correctly attributed.
  • High quality and rigorous peer review
    Open access publications run through the same peer review, production and publishing processes than journals and books published under the traditional subscription-based model do.
  • Rapid publication
    A streamlined and easy to use online submission and production process enables quick review, approval and publication.
  • No space constraints
    Publishing online means unlimited space for supplementary material including figures, extensive data and video footage.
  • Compliance with open access mandates
    Open access publications can comply with open access mandates from funding sources or academic institutions in the fastest and easiest way. Final articles can be deposited into bibliographic databases and institutional repositories without any embargo periods.
  • Citation tracking and inclusion in bibliographic databases
    Open access journals are tracked for impact factors and are deposited into bibliographic databases and institutional repositories without any embargo period just as traditional journals.

How does the business side of open access work?

Open access journals and books operate under a reversed business model to the traditional subscription-based publishing model. Instead of charging users a fee to read the content, they charge an open access fee at the beginning of the publication process and this enables all the content to be made freely available. The author is responsible for making or arranging the payment. Usually the authors do not have to pay the fee themselves but can rely on the institutions and funders, who take on the involved fees in various ways:

  • By establishing a central open access fund (e.g. Harvard University)
  • By making open access fees part of their general funding (e.g. National Institutes of Health, US)
  • By paying open access fees as part of a membership model (e.g. Max Planck Society)

Together with BioMed Central, Springer offers an Open Access Membership Program, which enables institutions, societies and funders to actively support open access by removing some or all of the publication cost from their individual researchers when publishing with BioMed Central or SpringerOpen. We currently have over 400 members in more than 45 countries.

To learn more about our membership program and to find out whether your institution is a member, please click here.

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