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Nature Publishing Group Makes Read-Only Articles Available to All


A recent announcement by Nature Publishing Group is garnering attention and comments from observers of scholarly publishing trends. On December 2nd, an article by Richard Van Noorden entitled: "Nature makes all articles free to view: Publisher permits subscribers and media to share read-only versions of its papers" was posted on the NPG site.

Excerpt: “All research papers from Nature will be made free to read in a proprietary screen-view format that can be annotated but not copied, printed or downloaded . . . The content-sharing policy, which also applies to 48 other journals in Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group (NPG) division, including Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine and Nature Physics, marks an attempt to let scientists freely read and share articles while preserving NPG’s primary source of income — the subscription fees libraries and individuals pay to gain access to articles.”

ReadCube, a software platform similar to Apple’s iTunes, also featured the announcement. It will be used to host and display read-only versions of the articles' PDFs.

Note: Subscribers, including authenticated NU users through the Galter Library, will still be able to download and print content the library has licensed.

The announcement was immediately reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education site. Readers’ comments illustrate the spectrum of opinions about the ramifications of this move by NPG and there are critics as well as sceptics. The author of one blog post, for example, believes that this is a step in the wrong direction for open access.

Whether other publishers will follow the example of NPG remains to be seen.

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Updated: September 18, 2023