Plan S is an initiative for open-access science publishing that was launched by Science Europe on 4 September 2018. It is an initiative of "cOAlition S", a consortium launched by major national research agencies and funders from twelve European countries. The plan requires scientists and researchers who benefit from state-funded research organisations and institutions to publish their work in open repositories or in journals that are available to all by 2021. The "S" stands for "shock".
- 1 Principles of the plan
- 2 Members of the coalition
- 3 Institutional statements of support
- 4 Specific implementation guidance
- 5 Reactions
- 6 Criticism from Open Access Publishers
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Principles of the plan
The plan is structured around ten principles. The key principle states that by 2021, research funded by public or private grants must be published in open access journals or platforms, or made immediately available in open access repositories without an embargo. The ten principles are:
- authors should retain copyright on their publications, which must be published under an open license such as Creative Commons;
- the members of the coalition should establish robust criteria and requirements for compliant open access journals and platforms;
- they should also provide incentives for the creation of compliant open access journals and platforms if they do not yet exist;
- publication fees should be covered by the funders or universities, not individual researchers;
- such publication fees should be standardized and capped;
- universities, research organizations, and libraries should align their policies and strategies;
- for books and monographs, the timeline may be extended beyond 2021;
- open archives and repositories are acknowledged for their importance;
- hybrid open-access journals are not compliant with the key principle;
- members of the coalition should monitor and sanction non-compliance.
Members of the coalition
Organisations in the coalition behind Plan S include:
- Austria: Austrian Science Fund;
- Finland: Academy of Finland;
- France: Agence Nationale de la Recherche;
- Ireland: Science Foundation Ireland;
- Italy: Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare;
- Luxembourg: Luxembourger National Research Fund;
- Netherlands: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research;
- Norway: Research Council of Norway;
- Poland: National Science Centre;
- Slovenia: Slovenian Research Agency;
- Sweden: Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas);Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte); Vinnova.. Swedish Riksbank's Jubileee Fond (RJ) used to be a member, but left the coalition after concerns about the timelines of Plan S.
- Jordan: Higher Council for Science and Technology
- United Kingdom: United Kingdom Research and Innovation; Wellcome Trust
- United States: Gates Foundation.
International organizations that are member:
Plan S is also supported by:
Institutional statements of support
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft;
- Swiss National Science Foundation;
- Swedish Research Council;
- Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT);
- Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER);
- League of European Research Universities (LERU);
- European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO);
- Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw);
- European University Association;
- Marie Curie Alumni Association
- SPARC Europe;
- Confederation of Open Access Repositories;
- Fair Open Access Alliance;
- Young Academy of Europe
- Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN)
- Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA);
- Faculty of 1000;
- Joint statement of 113 institutions from 37 nations and 5 continents;
- National Science Library (NSL), China;
- National Science and Technology Library (NSTL), China;
- National Natural Science Foundation of China;
- All European Academies (ALLEA);
- African Academy of Sciences (AAS);
- National Institute for Health Research (NIHR);
- Council of Australian University Librarians and the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group
Specific implementation guidance
A task force of Science Europe, lead by John-Arne Røttingen (RCN) and David Sweeney (UKRI), has developed a specific implementation guidance on the Plan S principles, released on November 27, 2018. The development of the implementation guidance also drew on input from interested parties such as research institutions, researchers, universities, funders, charities, publishers, and civil society.
During a transition period, publishing in a hybrid journal that is covered by a transformative agreement to become a full open-access venue will remain permissible. The contracts of such transformative agreements need to be made publicly available (including costs), and may not last beyond 2023.
Green open access
Publishing in any journal will continue to be permissible subject to the condition that a copy of the manuscript accepted by the journal, or the final published article, will be deposited in an approved open-access repository (green open access) with no embargo on access and with a CC-BY licence.
Licensing and rights
In order to re-use scholarly content, proper attribution needs to be given to the authors, and publications need to be granted a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to share and adapt the work for any purpose, including commercially. Scholarly articles must be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license CC BY 4.0, or alternatively CC BY-SA 4.0 Share-alike or CC0 Public Domain.
Mandatory criteria for open access journals and platforms
Open access journals and platforms need to meet the following criteria to be compliant with Plan S:
- All scholarly content must be immediately accessible upon publication without any delay and free to read and download, without any kind of technical or other form of obstacles.
- Content needs to be published under CC BY, CC BY-SA or CC0.
- The journal/platform must implement and document a solid review system according to the standards within the discipline, and according to the standards of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
- The journal/platform must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or be in the state of being registered.
- Automatic article processing charge waivers for authors from low-income countries and discounts for authors from middle-income countries must be provided.
- Details about publishing costs (including direct costs, indirect costs and potential surplus) impacting the publication fees must be made transparent and be openly available on the journal website/publishing platform.
- DOIs must be used as permanent identifiers.
- Long-term digital preservation strategy by deposition of content in a archiving programme such as LOCKSS/CLOCKSS.
- Accessability of the full text in a machine readable format (e.g. XML / JATS) to foster Text and Data Mining (TDM).
- Link to raw data and code in external repositories.
- Provide high quality and machine readable article level metadata and cited references under a CC0 public domain dedication.
- Embed machine readable information on the open access status and the license of the article.
Mirror journals, with one part being subscription based and the other part being open access, are considered to be de facto hybrid journals. Mirror journals are not compliant with Plan S unless they are a part of a transformative agreement.
The implementation guidance was open for general feedback until 8 February 2019. On May 31st 2019 the cOAlition S published an updated version of their implementation guidance in light of the feedback received during the consultation.
The plan was met with opposition from a number of publishers of non-open access journals, as well as from researchers and learned societies. Springer Nature "urge[d] research funding agencies to align rather than act in small groups in ways that are incompatible with each other, and for policymakers to also take this global view into account", adding that removing publishing options from researchers "fails to take this into account and potentially undermines the whole research publishing system". The AAAS, publisher of the journal Science, argued that Plan S "will not support high-quality peer-review, research publication and dissemination", and that its implementation "would disrupt scholarly communications, be a disservice to researchers, and impinge academic freedom" and "would also be unsustainable for the Science family of journals". Tom Reller of Elsevier said, "if you think that information should be free of charge, go to Wikipedia". Reactions to the Plan also include an Open Letter, currently signed by more than 1500 researchers, expressing their concerns about perceived unintended outcomes of the Plan if implemented as stated before the publication of the specific implementation guidance. Another Open Letter in support of mandatory open access was issued after the publication of the specific implementation guide, and had been signed by over 1,900 researchers by the end of 2018. However, it did not reference Plan S specifically.
Stephen Curry, a structural biologist and open access advocate at Imperial College London, called the policy a "significant shift" and "a very powerful declaration". Ralf Schimmer, head of the Scientific Information Provision at the Max Planck Digital Library, told The Scientist that "This will put increased pressure on publishers and on the consciousness of individual researchers that an ecosystem change is possible ... There has been enough nice language and waiting and hoping and saying please. Research communities just aren't willing to tolerate procrastination anymore." Political activist George Monbiot – while acknowledging that the plan was "not perfect" – wrote in The Guardian that the publishers' responses to Plan S was "ballistic", and argued that Elsevier's response regarding Wikipedia "inadvertently remind[ed] us of what happened to the commercial encyclopedias". He said that, until Plan S is implemented, "The ethical choice is to read the stolen material published by Sci-Hub."
On 7 September 2018 the European University Association (EUA) published a statement in which it generally welcomed the Plan's ambitions to turn open access into reality by 2020, but stated that, while the plan developed a bold vision for the transition, it hinged on turning principles into practice.
On September 24, 2018, the three large researcher organizations Eurodoc, Marie Curie Alumni Association and Young Academy of Europe released a "Joint Statement on Open Access for Researchers" announcing their support for Plan S.
On October 25, 2018, the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) endorsed the main ambitions set out by the Plan S, namely the elimination of paywalls, copyright retention, and the rejection of hybrid models of open access publishing. DARIAH published recommendations for the practical implementation of the principles of the Plan S. DARIAH perceived a strong bias toward the STEM perspective within the current principles of Plan S, and called for a broader range of publication funding mechanisms to better cover the situation for researchers in the arts and humanities. DARIAH was established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in August 2014 and as of 1 January 2019[update] had 17 member countries and several cooperating partners in eight non-member countries. Further detailed recommendations for the implementation of Plan S were published on 19 October 2018 by the board of the Fair Open Access Alliance (FOAA).
In October 2018 the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) made it clear that US federal funders would not be signing up to Plan S. In an interview with the American Institute of Physics published 30 April 2019 , OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier stated with regard to Plan S: "One of the things this government will not do is to tell researchers where they have to publish their papers. That is absolutely up to the scholar who's doing the publication. There's just no question about that."
On 28 November 2018 the journal Epidemiology and Infection published by Cambridge University Press announced that it would convert to the open access model of publication from 1 January 2019, citing changed funder policies and Plan S.
On 4 December 2018 a statement of support was signed by 113 institutions from 37 nations in 5 continents, affirming that there was a strong alignment among the approaches taken by OA2020, Plan S, the Jussieu Call for Open science and bibliodiversity, and others to facilitate a full transition to immediate open access.
On 5 December 2018 it emerged that the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology would support Plan S and the goal of immediate open access for publicly funded projects. In 2018 China had become the world's largest producer of scientific articles in terms of volume.
Some commentators have suggested that the adoption of Plan S in one region would encourage its adoption in other regions.
On 17 January 2019 UK's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) pledged support for Plan S and announced that the current open access policy will be reviewed. The NIHR is the largest national clinical research funder in Europe with a budget of over £1 billion (approximately USD 1.3 billion).
On 12 February 2019 K. VijayRaghavan, the principal scientific adviser of the Government of India, announced that India is joining Plan S. India is the third biggest producer of scientific papers in the world. Earlier this year Jordan and Zambia signed up Plan S.
On March 6 2019, the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, an initial supporter of Plan S, wrote a letter withdrawing its support, noting that "Coalition S is a network of research funding organizations with a commitment to Open Science. Plan S is one attempt at achieving this goal, but for Riksbankens Jubileumsfond the currently chosen path is not realistic and sustainable" (see external links)
On March 26 2019, the OA2020 Mainland China signatory libraries held a meeting at the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing at which they clarified their position with regard to Plan S. 
Criticism from Open Access Publishers
According to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), whose aim is to transform the business model of the largest publishers (by supporting projects like Project DEAL), Plan S puts smaller and emerging fully open access publishers at a competitive disadvantage, and potentially harms their prospects. Pure "gold" open access publishers may be put out of business by incentivizing authors to publish with large publishers which have the market power to negotiate their transition plans with funders, while no incentives are provided to authors to publish with smaller fully-open access publishers and scholarly societies.
Discussions and solutions continue to be focussed on the largest, mixed-model publishers. While it is this segment of the market on which funders’ attention – and spend – is concentrated, the vast majority of publishers within the so-called ‘Long Tail’ (the majority of OASPA’s members) appear to be absent from the focus of Plan S. Many of these publishers are too small to negotiate the kind of ‘transformative’ national Big Deals we are seeing for the largest publishers, while exclusively open access publishers without legacy subscription businesses are also unable to participate. Many are not even of sufficient size to make agreements directly with institutions. For a healthy, competitive market in the longer term, the needs of fully open access publishers must not be overlooked at this critical stage. Smaller publishers, learned societies and innovative new platforms will be at a significant disadvantage unless they are properly considered and steps are taken to ensure they are able to compete fairly in the market. Conducting discussions with smaller publishers, both fully OA and those with mixed models, and sharing the outcomes and ideas that arise could therefore be enormously helpful.
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'De S staat voor shock. (Robbert-Jan Smits, presentation at the Physics@Veldhoven conference, 22 January 2019).'
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'Als je vindt dat informatie gratis moet zijn: ga naar Wikipedia.'
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'One of the things this government will not do is to tell researchers where they have to publish their papers. That is absolutely up to the scholar who's doing the publication. There's just no question about that.'
- Norman, Noah (2 December 2018). "Epidemiology & Infection goes open access". Epidemiology and Infection. doi:10.1017/S0950268818003047.
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|Scholia has a topic profile for Plan S.|
- Official website
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- Open Access Tracking Project (OATP)
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- on YouTube
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