Europe's New 'Plan S' For Open Access: Daft Name, Great News

from the admirably-strong dept

The journey towards open access has been a long one, with many disappointments along the way. But occasionally there are unequivocal and major victories. One such is the new "Plan S" from the inelegantly-named cOALition S:

On 4 September 2018, 11 national research funding organisation, with the support of the European Commission including the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles.

cOAlition S signals the commitment to implement, by 1 January 2020, the necessary measures to fulfil its main principle: "By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms."

The plan and its ten principles (pdf) are usefully summed up by Peter Suber, one of the earliest and most influential open access advocates, as follows:

The plan is admirably strong. It aims to cover all European research, in the sciences and in the humanities, at the EU level and the member-state level. It's a plan for a mandate, not just an exhortation or encouragement. It keeps copyright in the hands of authors. It requires open licenses and prefers CC-BY. It abolishes or phases out embargoes. It does not support hybrid journals except as stepping stones to full-OA journals. It's willing to pay APCs [Article Processing Charges] but wants to cap them, and wants funders and universities to pay them, not authors. It will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. It's already backed by a dozen powerful, national funding agencies and calls for other funders and other stakeholders to join the coalition.

Keeping copyright in the hands of authors is crucial: too often, academics have been cajoled or bullied into handing over copyright for their articles to publishers, thus losing the ability to determine who can read them, and under what conditions. Similarly, the CC-BY license would allow commercial use by anyone -- many publishers try to release so-called open access articles under restrictive licenses like CC-BY-NC, which stop other publishers from distributing them.

Embargo periods are routinely used by publishers to delay the appearance of open access versions of articles; under Plan S, that would no longer be allowed. Finally, the new initiative discourages the use of "hybrid" journals that have often enabled publishers to "double dip". That is, they charge researchers who want to release their work as open access, but also require libraries to take out full-price subscriptions for journals that include these freely-available articles.

Suber has a number of (relatively minor) criticisms of Plan S, which are well-worth reading. All-in-all, though, this is a major breakthrough for open access in Europe, and thus the world. Once "admirably strong" open access mandates like Plan S have been established in one region, others tend to follow in due course. Let's just hope they choose better names.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: coalition s, europe, knowledge, open access, plan s, sharing


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 12:01am

    This will only hurt creators! Or something! Evil techdirt agenda! Leftists! Goats on fire!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    John Smith, 11 Sep 2018 @ 1:15am

    This is great for the rest of the world, which can keep its secrets while having full access to the EU's research.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    DNY (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 3:15am

    Re:

    This is about authors rights, not proprietary trade secrets or secret military research. The only difference between this plan and what is now done is that an academic publisher (the biggest ones, Springer and Elevier are EU-based) doesn't get to collect monopoly rents on published papers the EU's tax-payers funded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 3:53am

    wish the EU would decide what they want! one hand is trying to get 'Open Access' the other is trying to lock away greater 'copyright protection'!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    ryuugami, 11 Sep 2018 @ 4:32am

    Re:

    Wish the USA would decide what they want! One hand is trying to legalize marijuana, the other is trying to ban it.

    Et cetera, et cetera.

    Hint: EU is not a hive mind. There are 500 million individual people living there. You'll get an occasional pull in opposite directions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    DNY (profile), 11 Sep 2018 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re:

    Ah, but as we've seen with the Greek debt crisis "negotiations", the Brexit "negotiations", and the reaction of EU officialdom to elections in Poland, Hungary, and Italy, and most recently Sweden, the 500 million individual people don't really matter much, only the hive-mind in Brussels matters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    All that stood in the way of terrorists gaining access to huge wealth of information was money .. and now it is free - woe is us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I thought it was the cult of money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    One hand is trying to repeal amendments 13 thru 17,
    the other is saying wth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2018 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The UK is leaving the EU. How do you conclude only Brussels matters? And what election reactions do you mean? Did the EU change or invalidate the results?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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