Three organisations representing early-career and senior researchers across Europe have today released a Joint Statement on Open Access for Researchers via Plan S. The statement has been issued by the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc), Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), and Young Academy of Europe (YAE) in response to proposals from a coalition of national research funding organisations in Europe to achieve full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications by 01 January 2020.
The proposals have been termed Plan S and consist of 10 principles which will be enacted by the 11 national funders currently forming cOAlition S and supported by the European Commission and European Research Council. The joint statement offers both support to Plan S and critical recommendations on implementing the principles to ensure a smooth transition to full and immediate Open Access for researchers in Europe. As President Gareth O’Neill of Eurodoc notes: “Plan S is a bold and ambitious move for researchers to take back control of access to scientific publications. The retention of publication copyrights by authors, the funding boycott on hybrid publishing, and the funding cap on publication fees will be particularly contentious. It is crucial that early-career and senior researchers are now heard to further develop and implement the 10 principles and make Plan S a success.”
The three organisations agree generally with the principles but note a lack of details on some key aspects of the plan such as the specific amount and duration of the funding cap on publication fees as well as the importance of self-archiving and publishing models with no author-facing fees. MCAA Chair Matthew DiFranco notes, “Plan S is a bold step in the right direction for reigning in the exploitation of publicly funded research for private profits. However, the plan should not complicate efforts by researchers to publish their work and advance in their careers. Wider adoption of Plan S will be necessary to ensure that individual researchers ultimately benefit from the proposals.”
One crucial point is that the plan should not be implemented in isolation but should also occur simultaneously with the educating and training of researchers in Open Science and the revision of the research reward system whereby research and career evaluations move away from journal-based indicators and incorporate Open Science practices. Chair Marcel Swart of YAE: “Plan S is only the first step to move away from evaluation practices based on journal impact factors and number crunching; especially for early-career researchers who are in a turbulent moment in their lives, a FAIR evaluation is needed where research and scientific advances should play a central role. The implementation of Plan S without jeopardizing young careers in an international competitive playfield is therefore crucial for European research.”
Plan S has attracted much attention since it was published on Sep. 4, among others by chemists (YAE Fomer Chair Kamerlin et al.) where the majority of journals are published by academic societies and only ca. 2% of the chemistry journals are currently compliant with the Plan S rules. Article Processing Charges (APCs) are widely debated (including what would be an appropriate value for the cap on them), and Academic Freedom as well, but according to the Cambridge blog we should relax, because Plan S is just the beginning of the discussion.