Discoverability of open access books: How do we ensure that your research has the widest possible reach?

This blog post will look at how Springer Nature aids the discoverability of its open access books.

Why is discoverability an important topic?

It is important to us, our authors and our readers that open access (OA) books are easily findable, discoverable and visible. This means that OA books need to be easily found through search engines and on our own websites – whether looking for a specific title, or through related keyword searches – and that all OA content needs to be clearly marked as such so that readers know it is free to download and re-use.

One of the main motivations for authors and funders choosing OA for their research is to have as wide a readership as possible. Eighty-six percent of attendees at our 2018 Academic Book Week open access books event thought that ‘OA books help disseminate knowledge further than non-OA books’.

One challenge for publishers is to understand user behaviour and how it can vary, as different search engines and discovery routes are favoured in different academic fields. Some researchers prefer to use their own library discovery systems or others might just ‘Google it’. As a publisher, we need to echo readers’ habits in order to ensure that our OA books are found easily.

Our commitment to support the dissemination of our authors’ research

We are dedicated to increasing the discoverability and visibility of our OA books in order to maximise the impact of our authors’ research.

Our OA books are immediately available upon publication through free and unrestricted online access, and sharing and re-use of the work is permitted through a CC BY 4.0 licence whilst the author retains copyright. As we publish OA books in multiple formats (HTML, Amazon MOBI, PDF, ePub) we ensure that the research can be easily shared across multiple devices without any barriers.

Where can our OA books be downloaded from?

Our OA books are available online from our official platform, SpringerLink, and are clearly identified as ‘open access’. SpringerLink receives around 285 million visits each year from 127 million unique visitors.

There have been more than 30 million chapter downloads across our entire OA books portfolio since we started tracking downloads from SpringerLink in 2013.

To ensure high visibility of our OA books, we make sure that our authors’ book homepages on and appear at the top of the results list of an appropriate keyword search and we constantly optimise our product pages and keyword search functionalities.

In addition to our own websites, our OA books and chapters are also listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), and available from Google Books, Apple Books, Amazon and funders’ own platforms. Where appropriate, our OA books are also indexed in Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed’s NCBI Bookshelf, PMC, Medline, , as well as more than 200 more abstracting and indexing services.

We recently entered into a new partnership with the OAPEN Library, a central repository for hosting and disseminating OA books, providing another discovery route to our OA books.

We recently entered into a new partnership with the OAPEN Library, a central repository for hosting and disseminating OA books, providing another discovery route to our OA books.
We provide a “Metadata Downloader Tool” with an OA filter to libraries free of charge, thereby increasing discoverability of the books for end users. Libraries using MARC records find their eBook usage may be increased by as much as 50%.

By including OA research on these sites, the visibility and discoverability of our OA books is enhanced. OA books are also automatically included in our eBook Collections at no additional charge to ensure maximum distribution.

How can authors assess the reach and impact of their OA book?

Bookmetrix – a unique platform that Springer Nature developed in partnership with Altmetric to offer authors a comprehensive overview of the reach, usage and readership of their book or chapter – tracks the impact of publishing an OA book. Authors can check the global impact of their research through the number of downloads, citations and online mentions.

In a Springer Nature white paper we found that publishing an OA book with us can lead to seven times more downloads via SpringerLink, 50% more citations, and ten times more online mentions on average, compared to publishing a book through the non-OA route.

If you would like to talk to us about a proposal for an OA book, chapter or partnership series, please get in touch:

About open access books at Springer Nature

Springer Nature publishes peer-reviewed OA books and chapters under its SpringerOpen, Palgrave Macmillan and Apress imprints. We helped to pioneer OA book publishing, first piloting OA publication for books in 2011.

We publish OA books across a wide range of areas in science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences.

We offer OA across many book types such as chapters, short-form publications, edited collections, monographs and proceedings. This flexible offering across publication types makes it easier to find an open choice that suits our authors’ research type and funding availability. All titles are archived by CLOCKSS and Portico.

Follow us on Twitter at @SN_OAbooks for the latest news and events around OA books.

Learn more about OA books at Springer Nature.

For more information on discoverability, check out our Discovery Guide.

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