Springer – I resign from your Journal
Till today I was a member of the editorial board of Journal of Molecular Modeling · Computational Chemistry – Life Sciences – Advanced Materials – New Methods – published by Springer. It wasn’t very onerous – I occasionally got a mail from the editor to comment on a submitted paper – and I was loyal enough to publish a paper in it two years ago. And I and a co-author were considering publishing another one and because we believe in Open Access wished to do this under the Springer Open Choice system. Here’s what it offers according to its Architect, Jan Velterop (excerpt):
Springer Open Choice: Open Access Publishing
In this model the author also submits a manuscript for peer review, in exactly the
same way as in the traditional system. However, when the article is accepted for
publication, the author does not transfer copyright, but, instead, arranges for
payment of a so-called article processing fee, which defrays the publisher’s costs
and as a result the article will be published with immediate and permanent full
open access on line. At Springer there will also be a traditional printed version,
which follows the usual subscription model, albeit with much reduced costs, as the
only costs that need to be covered for open access articles are those of the actual
paper, printing, handling and postage.
and “More information and details can be found on this web site”
Springer Open Choice™
Your Research. Your Choice.
Springer operates a program called Springer Open Choice. It offers authors to have their journal articles made available with full open access in exchange for payment of a basic fee (‘article processing charge’).
With Springer Open Choice the authors decide how their articles are published in the leading and well respected journals that Springer publishes. Springer continues to offer the traditional publishing model, but for the growing number of researchers who want open access, Springer journals offer the option to have articles made available with open access, free to anyone, any time, and anywhere in the world. If authors choose open access in the Springer Open Choice program, they will not be required to transfer their copyright to Springer, either.
well, the “basic fee” is USD 3000 which immediately deterred my co-author (also an editor) as he is an independent scientist of renown but is not supported by an institution. So I looked to see what the authors were getting – at least they would get “full open access” – and I could rely on this since Jan Velterop is a signatory of the Budapest Declaration
So I went to JMolMod to search for any Open Choice articles. Springer provides no advertisement for Open Choice – you cannot search for (“all Open Choice articles”). So you have to browse journal-by-journal (and I have to say that like all other publishers sites it is very badly laid out). Anyway I found the overall TOC
. This advertises
Note: no mention of Open Choice. It seems that
- almost issues are white (toll-only). This was to be expected.
- a very few issues are openly readable (toll-free) and these carry the full green square. They carry no “Open Choice” or other indication of rights and are usually either a Jan-1 issues and/or a special issue. There is no indication as to whether they will remain toll-free.
- a very very few issues are white+green (access to some content). I went to that issues and found two “Open choice ” articles. At least someone is paying for the privilege.
But I was APPALLED to find that the article was copyrighted by Springer. No mention of Open Choice, No mention of Open Access. All you get for your 3000 USD. And the bottom link points to:
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so it is absolutely clear that Springer has no intention of actually making this article Open Access even by their own “Your Research. Your Choice” promise, let alone the BOAI. Even if Springer honoured their commitment to the author, their words are not BOAI-compliant as they forbid commercial use.This isn’t a glitch in the technical editing. I have looked for other “Open Choice” articles and none of them have copyright attributed to the authors. Since I cannot assume many authors would consciously pay 3000 USD and then hand over their copyright I assume they have copyrighted material that doesn’t belong to them. (Or, of course, the Open Access label doesn’t actually refer to an Open Access purchase). There’s even one journal where every article has a full green sticker and just one has Open Access. The authors of that one have no more rights than their TOC neighbours. The only difference is that they get 200 pixels saying “Open Choice”. That’s not much for 3000 USD.
So I’m using this blog to resign from the editorial board of JMolMod. I cannot be associated with such practices.
The best that can be said is that Springer don’t care a green fig about Open Choice – they clearly have made no effort to implement it with the care that is required. That’s certainly the impression that most of the large publishers give – they want to be able to say “we offered this choice but hardly anyone wanted to take it up”.
If Springer care about it they should give all the authors their money back. I think they have destroyed the idea of Open Choice for the whole publishing industry. It doesn’t matter what the details were – they have blatantly failed to deliver “full open access” and they have taken a lot of money for it.
[I have given enough links for any readers to play the game of “hunt the Open Choice and find the copyrights”. It isn’t easy. I may have got some things wrong in the struggle. But not the lack of “full open access”].
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