Science: Will the world embrace Plan S, the radical proposal to mandate open access to science papers?

8 January, 2019

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Will the world embrace Plan S, the radical proposal to mandate open access to science papers?

By Tania Rabesandratana, Jan. 3, 2019 , 2:00 PM

Since the September 2018 launch of the Europe-backed program to mandate immediate open access (OA) to scientific literature, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on... This month, a national funding agency in Africa is expected to join, possibly followed by a second U.S. funder...

Plan S, scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2020, has drawn support from many scientists, who welcome a shake-up of a publishing system that can generate large profits while keeping taxpayer-funded research results behind paywalls. But publishers (including AAAS, which publishes Science) are concerned, and some scientists worry that Plan S could restrict their choices.

If Plan S fails to grow, it could remain a divisive mandate that applies to only a small percentage of the world's scientific papers... To transform publishing, the plan needs global buy-in...l

Robert-Jan Smits, the European Commission's OA envoy in Brussels, who is one of the architects of Plan S, says publishers have stalled by emphasizing the need for broad participation. "The big publishers told me: ‘Listen, we can only flip our journals [to OA] if this is signed by everyone. So first go on a trip around the world and come back in 20 years. Then we can talk again,’" Smits recalls. "Some people try to do anything to keep the status quo."...

Plan S requires immediate OA; it also insists that authors retain copyright and that hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also offer a paid OA option, sign "transformative agreements" to switch to fully OA...

India, the third biggest producer of scientific papers in the world, will "very likely" join Plan S, says Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan in New Delhi, principal scientific adviser to India's government. But the Russian Science Foundation is not planning to join. South Africa's National Research Foundation says it "supports Plan S in principle," but wants to consult stakeholders before signing on...


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Access to Health Research

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: