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23 September 2014

Science journal Nature Communications joins the open access movement

Nature Communications will be the first Nature-branded open access-only journal - a huge step in the right direction for the progression of scientific communication.

By Fiona Rutherford

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) has announced today that Nature Communications will be their first Nature-branded open access only journal, in an attempt to move the frontiers of open access forward. Sam Burridge, managing director for Open Research at NPG/Palgrave Macmillan, said:

We want to be leaders in open research, and this move accelerates our commitment to drive open access forward. NPG has made significant moves over the past ten years, and 38 per cent of the research articles we published last year were open access. We are now taking a decisive step. We continue to see demand from authors for subscription publishing options, but we also see a need for a high quality, multidisciplinary, open access journal. Most importantly: we believe in open access.

Nature Communications is due to start accepting open access research submissions from late October 2014. It will use the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license as default, which allows the sharing and remixing of content, internationally, for any organisation; however, other CC licenses will be available upon request, with no difference in cost to the submitter.

Robert Kiley, who leads on the implementation of the Wellcome Trust’s open access policy, is pleased with NPG’s decision. He said:

I am delighted that Nature Communications is to become a fully, open access journal, and one that defaults to publishing content under the CC BY licence. The decision by NPG to make this journal fully OA also provides evidence that hybrid OA – in which a journal makes content available under both OA and subscription models – can be a transitional phase. We hope that this will encourage other hybrid OA journals to transition to full OA.”

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Receiving over 1,500 submissions a month, Nature Communications is one of NPG’s fastest growing titles. It first launched in 2010 as a digital journal, publishing both subscription content and open access. Last year, the Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Report ranked it third among all multidisciplinary science primary research journals, behind the multi-disciplinary Science and Nature. A report by the Research Information Network found that publishing open access in Nature Communications was valuable in terms of article views, downloads and citations, as removing restrictions allows science to be circulated and communicated more effectively.

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This announcement is particularly pleasing, especially in light of the recent controversy over the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) decision to launch a new “open access” scientific journal, Science Advances, which fails to fully comply with OA principles – much to the dismay of critics.

For researchers who choose not to publish open access, quality is usually their main concern. Therefore, the decision for Nature Communication to fully embrace the idea by offering more options is a huge step in the right direction for the progression of scientific communication.

We are building a family of open access journals, offering choice to authors,” Burridge explains. “From Scientific Reports to the Nature Partner Journal series, and our hybrid journals with open access options, we can now offer a home for specialist and high impact open access research across the natural sciences.”