The launch of cOAlition S earlier this month marks a commitment within Europe to make publications of publicly funded research freely available to all by January 2020. cOAlition S is an alliance of 11 national research funding organisations, supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council.
The group is working together to implement Plan S — 10 fundamental principles designed to meet the key target that “After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms”. These principles could see key changes to open access publishing models, including with respect to the responsibilities of those funders signed up to the plan.
The principles will require funders to set robust criteria to ensure that research is published via high quality open access services. Of note, publication in “compliant” platforms and journals will “fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration”, including free re-use; a move very much in line with recent trends in medical publishing. The group also indicate that ‘hybrid’ open access models will not be deemed compatible with Plan S principles; a statement already giving rise to some debate. In a preamble to Plan S, Marc Schiltz (President of Science Europe) recognises that these models may facilitate the transition to full open access, but argues that such a transition period should be as short as possible, and strongly disputes that there is any continued need for subscription-based access to scientific publications. While some welcome this challenge to the status quo, others advocate a continued role for existing models. The Plan S principles further outline that, where needed, funders will create incentives to support or establish suitable open access platforms. Given the current prevalence of hybrid models within medical publishing, this will no doubt be something to watch with interest! cOAlition S will now begin the implementation of Plan S, and call for other public and private research funders worldwide to join them.
Summary by Lobke Starr-Vaanholt, PhD
Dr. Lobke Starr-Vaanholt is a biomedical scientist and freelance science writer. Contact Lobke: LobkeStarr@gmail.com