Overview of the various comments, interviews, and positions taken which have animated and continue to feed into the general discussion on Plan S

The first interview

The first interview with Robert-Jan Smits - European Commission delegate to OA - highlights the initiative's firm adherence to the OA/APC model, which is, on the contrary, worrying many (researchers, librarians, etc.). The interview was conducted by Richard Poynder, who also edited the introductory part with comments on Plan S. 

Stefano Bianco's clarifications

As Stefano Bianco well wrote on an OA Italia mailing list post: "Plan-S supports repositories and the green road. It commits itself to publish on OA journals or platforms, then OA repositories are allowed”.

Bianco still points out that in the cited interview to Robert-Jan Smits no extremely innovative aspects of Plan S emerge, such as, for example, the proposal to move away from purely bibliometric evaluation methods by supporting alternative approaches such as those contained in the DORA declaration.

The open document of the Plan S guidelines

On November 27, 2018, Science Europe released guidelines for the implementation of Plan S. The document was open for comments until 08/02/2019. You can find here the press release.

The doubts of some researchers

A thousand and more researchers in Chemistry signed an open letter - Too far, too risky - expressing concern about Plan S.

The signatories claim to support OA, and admit that Plan S is "probably written with good intentions", but warn that in its current form "it goes too far, and is unfair to scientists and too risky for science in general".

FAIR Open Access Alliance's response to the letter from Plan S researchers

On regard of Plan S initiative’s doubts you can read the FAIR Open Access Alliance's answer to the researchers' letter on Plan S drawn up to provide concrete and timely counter-evidence to the open letter - 'Too far, too risky' - of the chemists who had expressed such doubts.

The clarifications of Gerard Meijer

Around the widening of the debate, Gerard Meijer's reply is also worth reading; Meijer corrects some inaccuracies and clarifies some erroneous statements in the Open Letter - "Too far, too risky" - of the signatory researchers.

The clarifications of the signatories of Plan S

After the heated and continuous debate that arose after its publication, the signatories of Plan S have also expressed themselves by providing some clarifications regarding the initiative.

An article on Plan S

On November 25, 2018, the article "Free access to double-edged" (Libero accesso a doppio taglio) on Plan S expressed concern about the risk of "splitting the scientific community into two separate areas and competing, each with its own journals" causing damage to the circulation of knowledge.

Jon Tennant on Plan S regard

On February 5, 2019 Jon Tennant, together with 3 other authors, expressed his opinion on Plan S. The authors, while supporting Plan S and appreciating the concreteness of the proposals, especially in view of the slow progress that Open Science is making, believe that it is necessary to pay more attention to non-commercial stakeholders involved in the publishing ecosystem. In practice, it is suggested to encourage - also through ad hoc investments - the publication of non-commercial journals, thus favouring a fairer publishing market that is not wholly managed by the most prestigious editorial offices.

LIBER statement on Plan S guidelines

In the course of the debate, LIBER published its statement on Plan S guidelines. It was addressed to the research libraries and invited them to support Plan S through the following recommendations:

  • Negotiating transformative Open Access agreements with publishers with the next renewal. Libraries can follow LIBER’s Five Principles for Negotiations with Publishers;
  • Raising awareness about the new requirements and training researchers so that they can meet these standards;
  • Developing institutional repositories which support the Plan S mission, and encouraging and assisting researchers and students in using these repositories;
  • Supporting and helping to develop global Open Access infrastructure, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals via SCOSS;
  • Directly facilitating Open Access as publishers of information, rather than only curating it for access and long-term preservation.

COAR response

On February 6, 2019, COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) published an updated version of the response to Plan S implementation guidelines. The main concern of COAR is that many of the requirements for repositories are somehow unnecessary and burdensome and will bring repository functionality in the wrong direction. This could have an impact on European archives, but also on non-European archives, given the growing number of non-European funders expressing interest in Plan S. COAR aims to ensure interoperability among archives at international level, so any large-scale change in Europe will have an impact elsewhere.

March 2019: Plan S continues to be discussed

At the end of March 2019, we can find two interviews about the opportunities offered by Plan S.

In the first interview, Roy Kaufman warns not to focus on the details at this time but on the goal: “Plan S should not be viewed as an end in itself but as part of a process of gradually increasing Open Access. Otherwise, the details of Plan S threaten to overwhelm debate”.

In the second interview David Sweeney answers to those who are asking for more time regarding Plan S implementation: “My question for those who say it’s too tight a time scale is how long do you want? Given that we’re now talking about implementing principles which were agreed many years ago and that were then set out in transitional models. I don’t remember going back to scratch and resetting this clock for Plan S. We’re imposing the same open access guidelines that we’ve been working on for many years.”

March 20, 2019: an article from the Italian pharmaceutical chemicals newsletter (Notiziario chimico farmaceutico italiano)

Some articles within that community followed the position expressed by the chemistry community in the Open Letter "Too far, too risky" on Plan S. An example is an article of March 20, 2019 in the Chemical Pharmaceutical News "A Plan S for scientific publishing Open Access" (Un Plan S per l’editoria scientifica Open Access ). Here ranks are drawn on the various positions expressed in the scientific world, starting with the now famous phrase of the European Commissioner for Research, Carlos Moedas: "”Knowledge is power, and I firmly believe that Open Access to all scholarly publications derived from publicly funded research is a moral right of citizens”.

End of March 2019: Lenny Teytelman's article in response to "The New England Journal of Medicine".

In this article Lenny Teytelman (founder of protocols.io) replied point by point to an article in "The New England Journal of Medicine" - which provided some information on Open Access.

Regarding the question of costs, Teytelman replies that “the costs have not come down, but it’s not because the internet is more expensive than print or because OA journals charge more than subscription ones. The costs have not come down because subscription journals have not switched to open access, so they maintain their exorbitant profit margins, and many double-dips and charge extra for those who want their articles to be Open Access”.

As for the doubt about the poor acceleration of science, Teytelman replies that all the evidence we have unambiguously stated that Open Access articles are more cited; indeed, there are general advantages of access that reaches politicians, teachers, and many other categories.

As for the doubt that scientists do not prefer OA, Teytelman replies that it is enough to ask them: “Would you like your article to be published for free in our journal and be open access or closed to readers?” The answer is obvious, and the question is rhetorical. He also explains that he launched a Twitter survey, asking researchers if they want Open Access, and getting 53% of affirmative votes.

In depths

For further information, you can consult the comments and news collected almost daily by the University of Cambridge and available here.




Plan S - from the principles to the implementation

Pisa, 8 maggio 2019

Video and slides

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