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An open letter on open access: call for greater clarity and transparency of open access terms and conditions


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • International research consortium cOAlition S has asked journals to make information on open access copyright agreements and fees more visible to potential authors.

On 1 March 2022, cOAlition S wrote to publishers as part of the Plan S initiative to drive open access publishing. Acknowledging recent progress made by publishers to increase open access to scientific publications, cOAlition S urged publishers to take further steps by making details of their open access policies and contracts more obvious for authors. The letter signed by Professor Johan Rooryck, Executive Director of cOAlition S, calls on journals to make the following information plainly available for authors at the point of submission:

  • the copyright licence that authors would need to sign before their manuscript’s publication
  • all costs associated with publishing the manuscript
  • whether the journal will re-direct the manuscript to another journal based on reasons other than editorial rejection.

While details on these policies can often be found on a journal’s own web site or via the publisher’s web site, cOAlition S states that it would be helpful for authors if this information were displayed:

  • prominently on the journal’s web site
  • as a part of the ‘Information for Authors’ section
  • at the start of the journal’s submission process.

The availability of clear terms and conditions at the beginning of the submission process would enable an informed decision on whether authors want to proceed with their submission.

Such information could also help avoid late-stage manuscript withdrawals due to access restrictions of published manuscripts not meeting pre-existing grant conditions.

Noting that the requested transparency regarding copyright, licencing and fees information is in line with the Committee on Publication Ethics Principles of Transparency guidelines and that such initiatives have the broad support of the research community, cOAlition S has asked for publishers’ responses to the letter in the hope that these will help inform its grantees on which journals meet their publishing requirements.

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What do you think - will improving clarity and transparency of open access publishing policies benefit the research community?

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