With the launch of Plan S and other open access (OA) initiatives, the number of funders and institutions committed to making publications of publicly funded research freely available has never been greater. However, the level of compliance with these OA mandates is unclear. In an article by Vincent Larivière and Cassidy R. Sugimoto published in Nature, the authors aimed to determine what proportion of research supported by 12 selected funders with OA mandates is actually available to the public.
The analysis revealed that of 1.3 million papers identified, two-thirds were free to read from repositories (green OA) or journal websites (gold OA), with about half of these available by both routes. Compliance with OA mandates varied by funder, with the US National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust topping the list with rates of around 90%. Compliance also varied by discipline, with almost full compliance in biomedicine, clinical medicine, and health research and lower rates in the social sciences, chemistry, and engineering. Differences in enforcement and available infrastructure were suggested as reasons behind this variation.
The authors concluded by calling for more transparency around compliance with OA mandates to make future monitoring and assessment easier. The authors highlighted that although mandates can shape compliance, cooperation is needed between stakeholders to ensure that any systems that are put in place are sensitive to financial inequality, in order to prevent the burden falling disproportionally on any one area.