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Publishing

Coalition releases final details of Plan S for open access

European science funders delay timeline for implementation

by Andrea Widener
May 31, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 22

A coalition of primarily European science funders has released final details of its sweeping open-access proposal called Plan S.

After receiving over 600 comments, the coalition made some changes to its timeline and implementation plan. But overall, its push for full, immediate, and cost-free access to scientific journal articles remains unchanged. “It was clear from the beginning that there were certain principles we would not deviate from,” says Marc Schiltz, president of Science Europe, one of the participating funders. “Not everybody will be happy about that.”

If implemented, Plan S would throw the science publishing world into considerable upheaval. Currently, over 80% of publishing is not compliant with the open-access rules outlined under Plan S. Plan S funders make up just a fraction of published research now, but that number is growing. Funders in 15 countries have signed on, along with the European Commission, African Academy of Sciences, Wellcome Trust, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The biggest change in the new plan is the deadlines. Plan S funders agreed to push back the implementation by a year, starting for grant applications submitted in 2021. Work published under those grants would likely be published in late 2022 or 2023 at the earliest.

An earlier version of Plan S did not allow publication in hybrid journals, which allow open-access publishing for a fee. The new model will allow publication in those journals, but funders won’t pay publication fees unless the publishers agree to move to a full open-access model by 2024. The journals will also be required to be transparent about fees for open-access publishing. The coalition will not impose a fee cap now but reserves the right to do so in the future.

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