SpringerNature ‘big deal’ negotiation

The Library is committed to the transformation of academic publishing to create an equitable and open research environment. Find out more about the SpringerNature 'big deal' negations.


Last updated: 22 February 2023

Key points:

  • Our subscription to SpringerNature expired at the end of 2022
  • Sheffield is part of a UK-wide consortium led by UUK and Jisc seeking a national deal which constrains costs and provides full and immediate open access to UK research
  • Authors can continue to publish in Nature Research Journals without paying an APC and be compliant with their funder open access policy, including UKRI, by following the advice from the library
  • UEB has agreed that no APCs should be paid to publish OA in Nature Research hybrid journals from any central funding source managed by the Library

The Library works in partnership with Jisc and other UK academic libraries to negotiate access to content to support the University’s vision for learning and teaching and the University’s commitment to create an open research culture that values a range of contributions and delivers the highest standards and best practice in research integrity and ethics, supporting the FAIR principles to the benefit of society (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.) Our comprehensive content strategy outlines how we approach this.

Our principles:

The Library holds to the negotiating principles of Jisc:

  1. Cost constraint, and ultimately cost reduction
  2. Transitional, breaking from legacy publishing models and ensuring a greater proportion of research is made Open Access
  3. Compliant, with funder mandates and policy on Open Research
  4. Transparent, to articulate what public money pays for and why
  5. Effective, improving the workflows of publishers, researchers and libraries

The University Library provides read access to Springer Nature Research Journals through the Jisc negotiated national deal. This deal ended on 31 December 2022 and is one of our ‘big deals’ (Tell me more). Our 16 largest big deal journal subscriptions account for around 50% of our overall subscriptions budget. The cost of large, “read only” journal subscriptions no longer represents value for money. These subscriptions consume an increasing proportion of library budgets, locking up funds that could be used to better support research, teaching and learning. 

Our current subscription:

The SpringerNature negotiation seeks to encompass two existing deals:

  1. The Springer Compact deal which comprises around 2,500 titles
  2. The Nature Journals deal which comprises 54 titles

You can see a list of the titles here (University of Sheffield login required). Out of the Nature Journals titles, about 39% of our usage is for Nature itself, and 90% of usage is from 35 titles.

Negotiations so far:

The negotiations are sector-led involving senior academic leaders and Jisc. Universities are negotiating with Springer Nature through two representative groups: the UUK / Jisc Content Negotiation Strategy Group and the Jisc Content Expert Group. Professor Sue Hartley (Vice President for Research) is a member of the former and also sits on the core negotiating team, Anna Clements (Director of Library Services) is a member of the latter.  Details are at www.jisc.ac.uk/springer-nature-negotiations.

The core aims of the negotiations are to provide full and immediate open access to UK research, to advance author's rights and to reduce and constrain costs. An initial proposal was received from Springer Nature in October 2021 but only met one of the sector’s requirements and so it was rejected. The proposal increased initial and future spend, did not increase access, and limited the number of articles that could be published open access. Furthermore, the proposal used Springer Nature’s article processing charge of €9500 as the basis for calculating the cap on open access publishing, without explaining how this fee relates to the cost of making an article open access.  Subsequent meetings with SpringerNature throughout 2022 and early 2023 have led to some positive progress and new proposals, but these still fall short of sector requirements. More meetings will follow and we will keep this page updated with any significant news.

What is the Library doing during negotiations? 

At a national level we take part in regular meetings with Jisc, providing opinion and feedback. We also work closely with regional and national academic Library networks, including N8 and RLUK. Here at Sheffield we have a clear plan for this period of negotiation. We are currently in a data collection phase, looking at our institutional and departmental exposure to SpringerNature in terms of usage in teaching and research, citation patterns and our involvement in editorial boards. At the same time we are assessing alternative access arrangements for the material you need in your teaching and research. Our next phase involves us talking to you: outlining our current position, listening to your concerns and working with you to address these. We remain positive that a good deal can be achieved but we are preparing in case negotiations stall.

What can the academic community do?

Keep up to date with the negotiations via this page or by talking to your faculty’s Library team. We welcome departmental ‘champions’ - colleagues who can talk to us regularly about the impact on their department and help to disseminate information from us. Academic support has proved to be crucial in achieving an acceptable deal in such negotiations.

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Email: library@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 7200

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