Frequently Asked Questions about the SpringerNature negotiations

Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the SpringerNature negotiations.

Who makes the final decision about whether or not we sign up to the new deal? 

The University Library Director works closely with the Vice-President for Research, regularly updating UEB and the Open Research Advisory Group and makes decisions in accordance with their views.

Who is the University of Sheffield working with to negotiate a new deal? 

The negotiations are sector-led involving senior academic leaders and Jisc, the UK body tasked with negotiating sector-wide deals with publishers. Sue Hartley (VP Research) and Anna Clements (Director of Library Services) sit on the representative groups governing the negotiations. Details are at We are also working closely with colleagues in the Russell Group and across the N8.

How can I make my views known to the Library or find out more about the negotiations?

Your liaison librarian is the best first point of contact. Find the librarian for your department at

How will a ‘no deal’ affect items on my reading list in Blackboard and access to teaching material? 

Where there are links to SpringerNature articles in your reading list to which we no longer have access ‘no full text online’ will be displayed. If you feel your reading list may be affected by this please contact your liaison librarian. Find the librarian for your department at

Can I upload an article PDF to Blackboard? 

Usually, no. It is good practice to link to the original article from Blackboard. If this isn’t possible contact to ask about obtaining a copy that can be shared with students legally.

Can I request an article for teaching via the inter library request service? 

The interlibrary request service can be used to obtain material for research or private study and cannot be used to obtain material which is intended to be shared with others, such as students. Use the library resource recommendation form and we will try to obtain a digital copy for use in teaching. 

Can I still publish with SpringerNature if we don’t have a current deal with them?

Yes. Journals do not take into account whether or not an author is from a subscribing institution when they consider whether or not to accept an article.

Can I still make my SpringerNature journal articles open access if we don't have a deal?

UKRI and Wellcome funded authors can continue to publish in both Springer Compact and Nature Research journals without paying an APC and be compliant with their funder's open access policy by following advice on including a licensing statement at submission and making the Author Accepted Manuscript immediately available via a repository.

Details are at or contact the Library team directly on

UEB has also agreed that no APCs should be paid to publish OA in Nature Research hybrid journals (not currently included in our open access deal) from any institutional funding source or using funds from research councils. There may be open access funds at faculty and/or departmental level but we would ask all staff to consider whether paying an APC of €9k+ is a good use of money, especially as such spending will undermine the University’s negotiating position.

Can I still peer review SpringerNature articles?

Yes. In principle there is no reason why a ‘no deal’ should affect your position as a peer reviewer.

How will a ‘no deal’ affect my position on a SpringerNature editorial board?

In principle there is no reason why a ‘no deal’ should affect your position on a SpringerNature editorial board. The decision to appoint and retain an individual on a board should be made on entirely academic grounds and there is no requirement that an individual be employed by an institution that subscribes or that they subscribe themselves (more here). 

What should I do if I am contacted by SpringerNature?

SpringerNature may contact Sheffield authors and those with positions on editorial boards and ask you to put pressure on us to renew the deal. This assumption is based on what has happened at other institutions and previous experience with other publishers. We would be interested in hearing from you if this happens. If you’re unsure whether to respond or how to respond please talk to us.

Can I still get access to SpringerNature material?

It’s worth noting that, in the event that we don’t reach an agreement, we will still have instant access to most SpringerNature titles through post-cancellation access agreements (back to 2012) and open access initiatives. A search in StarPlus will show whether we have full text access or not.

The LibKey Nomad browser extension flags up open access journal articles, as well as articles we subscribe to, when you’re browsing the web. You can download and install it on your computer for free from the LibKey Nomad webpage.

Will SpringerNature content still be listed in StarPlus if we don’t have a subscription?

Yes, where Sheffield has access to the full text of an article this will be displayed in the results you get from a search in StarPlus. StarPlus provides an option to include articles where we don’t have full text access in your results too. Select the ‘include results without full text online access’ from the filters to display details of material to which we do not have access.

What are my options if I hit a paywall and I am asked to pay for access?

Firstly, it’s worth double-checking in StarPlus whether we have access to the full text or not. If it’s clear we don’t, you have several options:

  1. A freely available, open access copy may exist. The Library provides access to the LibKey Nomad browser extension which will flag up open access journal articles, as well as articles we subscribe to, when you’re browsing the web. You can download and install it on your computer from the LibKey Nomad webpage.
  2. If the article is required for your research or private study you can ask us to obtain a copy for you via the interlibrary request service.
  3. If the article is required for teaching, i.e. to share with students, use the library resource recommendation form and we will try to obtain a digital copy for use in teaching
  4. Contact the author. The Open Access button from OA.Works has a ‘contact the author’ service. Many publishers allow authors to share their own articles responsibly and authors will often willingly share their final manuscript with you. ResearchGate and are other sharing sites where authors may have made work available.
What about items I have in Mendeley, EndNote, etc?

Any items with a DOI or a URL will no longer take you to the full text. See the previous question for alternative access arrangements.

How much use does my department currently make of SpringerNature journals?

We are building a clearer picture of usage and activities with SpringerNature across our institution. Our team of liaison librarians can assess impact at departmental level and will provide more information on request. Find the librarian for your department at

What should I do if my research / teaching curriculum relies on access to a particular SpringerNature journal?

In the event of a subscription cancellation most requirements for journal access will be satisfied through post-cancellation access agreements to published material back to 2012 or through articles which are open access. You can search for these in StarPlus. If this isn’t the case we have mechanisms in place to request material for research or for teaching. For other requirements please talk to the librarian for your department.

Can I take out a personal subscription or use departmental funds to subscribe to a SpringerNature journal?

It is possible to take out a personal subscription to a SpringerNature journal and many academic colleagues do this in areas of personal interest. However, activity of this kind may undermine our attempts to reach a reasonable deal with the publisher for the institution. Some departments have devoted funds to individual titles or subject specific databases, often where an institutional licence would be prohibitive. That said, it is worth considering whether this approach is generalisable. We know that if all academic colleagues took out individual or departmental subscriptions this would result in increased access costs overall.

If we don’t reach an agreement with SpringerNature when will access be switched off?

Our current deal ended on 31 December 2022. SpringerNature has assured us of a grace period to the end of February 2023, after which we expect access will continue whilst negotiations are ongoing. It’s worth noting that we have perpetual access to most journal titles back to 2012 as part of our contract with SpringerNature.

What’s the position with SpringerNature and other UK HEIs?

Jisc is working on behalf of all UK HEIs to successfully negotiate a new deal with SpringerNature and each institution will be making similar preparations to Sheffield. More widely, institutions regularly negotiate deals and SPARC provides an overview of ‘big deal’ decisions.

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