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Failure of the SpringerNature negotiations for access to SPRINGER Journals: access to Springer content may be cut off from April 1, 2018

Negotiations between the Couperin.org consortium – of which the CNRS belongs is a member – and Springer have ended in disagreement with the publisher refusing the consortium’s latest request for a 15% reduction in subscription fees. Couperin.org considers Springer’s latest offer unacceptable. Springer proposed a price increase of 0% in 2018, 0.75% in 2019 and 1% in 2020 for the so-called “big deal” offer for a package of magazines.

The prices of subscriptions to electronic resources have been steadily increasing for twenty years and generate significant profits for the major scientific publishers Springer and Elsevier even though a significant and growing proportion (1) of the articles published in the journals concerned are available in open access. The cost of access to these items is paid by the authors or their institutions to the publishers. Why then charge for access via subscription when the publisher has already been paid?

To take this into account, the negotiators requested a drop at least equal to the sums already paid for in relation to these items. This request was not accepted by Springer who instead proposed a very low rate cut.

In the absence of an agreement, Springer indicated that it would cut off access to these contents by 1 April. In this case, researchers will no longer be able to consult articles published in 2018 in the journals of the package distributed by Springer except through alternative channels (“deposits” of pre-publications, social networks, requests to authors, etc.). Articles published before 2018 will remain accessible for higher education and research institutions. According to the terms of the previous contracts, researchers will retain access to a large part of the archives of resources acquired until 2017 for at least two years at no additional cost. For the CNRS, this includes resources covered by the previous 2015-2017 subscription as well as resources acquired definitively in the framework of the Istex project which began in 2014 for Springer journals.

The French decision comes in a context of heavy tension at the international level. Several scientific communities are attempting to stop this inflationary spiral of scientific documentation budgets. In 2016 the University of Montreal cancelled its subscription to the complete package while Denmark has requested better prices and more services for researchers.

(1) at least 4% according to Springer but probably closer to 15%, according to Couperin.org’s calculations for the package which is the subject of these negotiations.