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Springer caught red-handed selling access to an Open Access article

April 27th, 2015 | Posted by rmounce in Wrongly selling OA articles

Today, the author of a paid-for, ‘hybrid’ open access article published in 2009, found that it was wrongly on sale at a Springer website:

FWIW it’s still freely available at the original publisher website here.

To test if Springer really were just brazenly selling a copy of the exact same open access article, I paid Springer to access a copy myself (screenshot below) and found it was exactly the same:

my receipt

I don’t actually care whether this is technically ‘legal’ any more. That doesn’t matter. This is scammy publishing. I want a refund and I will be contacting Springer shortly to ask for this. The author also hopes I get a refund – he wanted his article be open access, not available for a ransom:


Frankly, I’m getting tired of writing these blog posts, but it needs to be done to record what happened, because it keeps on happening.

I really think we need to setup a c.f. to monitor and report on these types of incidents. It’s clear the publishers don’t care about this issue themselves – they get extra money from readers by making these ‘mistakes’ and no financial penalty if anyone does spot these mistakes. Calculated indifference.

Are these known incidences just the tip of the iceberg? How do we know this isn’t happening at a greater scale, unobserved? There are more than 50 million research articles on sale at the moment. Perhaps in small part this explains the obscene profits of the legacy publishers?

It’s yet another nail in the coffin for hybrid OA – we simply can’t trust these publishers to keep this content open and paywall-free.

A recap of recent incidents of selling open access articles, without the publisher acknowledging to the reader/buyer that it is an open access article:

Springer (April, 2015) this post

Wiley (March, 2015) link

Elsevier (March, 2015) link

Elsevier (2014) link

  • I just posted the following comment as a series of tweets starting at but we may as well have them all in one place.

    Elsevier sell access to OA papers.
    Wiley sell access to OA papers.
    Now Springer sell access to OA papers.

    On top of all the other objections to the Big-4 legacy publishers, they are just sloppy and incompetent. #Inexcusable

    If they had a shred of integrity PUBLISHERS would have someone tracking down mistakes and fixing, not waiting for @rmounce to alert them.

    Don’t know if it’s because they simply don’t care; or because they actively want not to know when they’re making errors in their own favour.

    What I do know is that funders like the @wellcometrust ought to be incandescently livid that predatory publishers are stealing their APCs.

    Funders like @wellcometrust should refuse to fund APCs for known-predatory publishers that have been caught charging for access to OA.

    Until that happens, there is simply no downside for these shameful rackets continuing to steal APCs while double-dipping subscriptions.

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