Skip to main content

cOAlition S: declaration for full and immediate OA announced

On 4th September 2018 Science Europe announced a new open access commitment named cOAlition S, or Plan S, signed by 11 major research funders in the EU, including UKRI (formerly RCUK). Plan S states that after 1st January 2020 all research outputs funded by the signatory funders will have to be fully and immediately open access.

The declaration makes many strong statements about the need for change in the scholarly publishing system:
[N]o science should be locked behind paywalls! (Science Europe,  Science Without Publication Paywalls)

"Monetising the access to new and existing research results is profoundly at odds with the ethos of science. There is no longer any justification for this state of affairs to prevail and the subscription- based model of scientific publishing, including its so-called ‘hybrid’ variants, should therefore be terminated." (Science Europe,  Science Without Publication Paywalls)

The declaration goes further than most current OA policies, stating 10 'key principles':
  1. Authors retain copyright and publications should be published with an open licence such as CC BY.
  2. There will be a set of criteria that journals and platforms must abide by in order to be a compliant publishing venue.
  3. Funders will provide incentives to create new OA journals and platforms.
  4. OA publication fees will be paid by funders where necessary.
  5. OA fee support will be capped
  6. Funders will expect universities and institutions to align their own policies with 'Plan S'.
  7. There will be a longer transition period before monographs and books will need to comply as well.
  8. Importance of repositories and open archives will be recognised.
  9. The 'hybrid' open access model is not compliant
  10. Non-compliance with Plan S will result in sanctions. 
Science Europe states the motivation for the declaration was in part due to the slow progress in 'flipping' the academic publishing system to open access. They also point to the numerous and much publicised library subscription negotiations with publishers as a key factor influencing the decision.

The declaration does still place publishers and journals as central to the scholarly publishing landscape, but stresses that the business models need to shift focus from selling the results of research to providing "services that help scientists to review, edit, disseminate, and interlink their work". (Science Europe,  Science Without Publication Paywalls)

The announcements has sparked concerns amongst some publishers, such as the Nature family of journals who still rely heavily on subscription revenue (except the fully open access Nature Communications). AAAS, whose journal Science Advances charges $6360 (inc. tax) for a CCBY article, has also voiced concerns, saying "[i]t would also be unsustainable for the Science family of journals".(Science, 'European science funders ban grantees from publishing in paywalled journals')

Currently many details are not yet known however (for instance we still don't know what the APC cap will be), and it still remains to be seen if other influential funders such as the Wellcome Trust will follow suit.


Popular posts from this blog

The Great Science Publishing Scandal

For centuries academic journals have been the custodians of scientific knowledge. But in the past few decades this has become increasingly contentious, as publishers continue to boast high profit margins, and their customers, largely academic libraries, continue to face squeezed budgets. Some libraries have cancelled subscriptions, some countries have been in deadlocked negotiations with publishers for months and even years, and many researchers have resorted to illegal means to access research.

But how did it get this way? And is there anything that can be done? In the BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Great Science Publishing Scandal' Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, discusses the history leading up to the current crisis, and looks at the ways in which academia can change to redress the balance of power in academic publishing. One such change advocated by professor Cobb is to break the link between prestige journals and academic promotion, and an…

Open Access books: Tony Crook's new book is published OA

This week is Open Access week, and the theme is set to look at the foundational work that is needed to underpin a transition to a world where research results are free and open by default. Recent moves by the open access publisher Knowledge Unlatched have shone a spot light on the need for better cooperation in achieving an open access default for books. Where KU has gone in the direction of commercial proprietary infrastructure, others such as Open Book Publishers have called for more open and transparent cooperation that isn't tied to proprietary commercially driven software. Open Book Publisher's reaction to Knowledge Unlatched is here.

"Academics need to know that there are benefits too, and that the expense of publishing OA is worth it in the long run"
While the debate about the nature of the infrastructure rumbles on, presently we must keep our minds focussed on the individual examples of open access books. Indeed the appetite for open access books is unlikely…

Screening of Paywall - the business of scholarship

We are planning a screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, on April 25th 2019 in the Byre Theatre, followed by a panel session chaired by Katie Stevenson.
The movie is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science, and questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, a substantial proportion of this from public funding (tax payers). It examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with large academic publishers, such as Elsevier; a profit margin often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies e.g. Apple, Facebook and Google. 

This will be an excellent opportunity for everyone to hear about and debate these issues and what steps we can take as individuals, an organisation and a sector, in response. The panel will also consider developments since the Paywall documentary was made, including Plan S, an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018.