​Universities and funders share cost of publishing in new agreement

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and research funding organisations should share the costs of scholarly publishing. This is one of the National Library of Sweden’s recommendations in aiming towards a system of immediate open access to scholarly publishing.

In a new pilot agreement, it becomes reality. The Swedish Research Council, Formas, Forte and Vinnova fund 50 percent of the cost of publishing in Springer Nature’s fully open access journals.

Infographics showing the flow of money between Research funders, HEIs, research libraries and Bibsam consortium.

Illustration (cropped) by Maria de Maré, CC-BY-NC 4.0.

This is the first agreement of its kind that the publisher Springer Nature signs with a library consortium. Through the agreement, the publisher will receive an advance payment for articles accepted for publishing in Springer Nature’s fully open access journals.

This means that researchers affiliated with participating organisations in the Bibsam consortium can publish articles in 576 of the publisher's journals – including Nature Communications and Scientific Reports, where recently the number of articles by Swedish researchers has increased greatly.

The fact that the Swedish Research Council, Formas, Forte and Vinnova now pay half the cost is in line with the National Library of Sweden’s recommendations for open access. In the study Financing the transition from a subscription-based to an openly available publishing system (2019), the National Library recommends that research funding organisations and HEIs share the financial responsibility.

– This is only the beginning. The Bibsam consortium will continue to work with funders and publishers to find solutions for new publishing agreements. Funding for publishing should not come from the individual researcher. An important piece of the puzzle in the transition to an openly available science system is that the payment flows are redirected, says Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Chair of the Bibsam consortium’s steering committee and President of Stockholm University.

One of the National Library’s directives is to report the universities' total expenditure on scientific publishing. When there is no agreement in place, researchers pay the publication fees themselves, with grants from research funding organisations and universities, or with their own funds. This makes it difficult to monitor and analyse the costs.

– This way the Bibsam consortium and the funders will get a better overview of how much is published, how much it costs and where the money comes from. This type of information is difficult to obtain without an agreement, says Anna Lundén, Head of National Coordination of Libraries at the National Library.

In addition to the four research funders, 31 of the Bibsam consortium’s participating organisations have chosen to join the agreement, which is in effect July 2019 – December 2021.

Bibsam Consortium

The National Library of Sweden negotiates license agreements for electronic information resources on behalf of Swedish universities, university colleges, governmental agencies and research institutes. 85 organisations participate in at least one of the 68 agreements and the total turnover 2018 was € 30 million.

​More information about the Bibsam Consortium

National coordination of open access

Since 2017, the National Library of Sweden has a government directive to coordinate work on open access to scholarly publications. The goal is for research results to be available on the internet, free for everyone to read and reuse.

​​More information about the government directive


Britt-Marie Wideberg, Head of Licensing, National Library of Sweden
​+46 70-007 36 60