OA Resources

open source tools, software and platforms for scholar-led approaches to open access

Science Europe’s Plan S: making it work for all researchers: A commentary by the British Academy

“The British Academy is firmly committed to Open Access (OA), as we have stated on numerous occasions. Our own Journal is published as OA, with no author charges. Many of the principles set out in Plan S are admirable as a direction of travel, and we fully support them. One particularly important element of the plan is the intention to cap OA ‘Gold’ publication fees,2 and the commitment that neither individual researchers nor universities with limited access to OA funds should have to pay them. David Sweeney, executive chairman of Research England, who has been named as one of the lead developers of Plan S, has stated that he is a strong proponent of ‘Green’ OA, which involves no fees to publishers, and some of the players in Science Europe have endorsed this as a possibility.3 Plan S also recognises, importantly, that open archives and repositories need to have a long-term archiving and curation function for the initiative to succeed….

The British Academy is, however, concerned about some implications of the plan, which we believe remain to be fully thought through….

All surveys of HSS academics indicate a substantial majority who will insist on the inclusion of a ‘No Derivatives’ (ND) element in the licence for any OA publication. The Academy thinks their concerns are fully justified, and has set out its reasons elsewhere….

 It is generally recognised that in HSS such [high-quality OA] journals and platforms are few in number, and have little profile. For them to be ready and academically respectable, with proper peer review, in 15 months, across the whole of Europe with some thirty academic languages and numerous disciplinary fields, seems highly unlikely….

We are, finally, concerned that Science Europe’s belief that OA must be immediate, without allowance for any type of embargo period, is not justified in the text. It comes across as surprisingly dogmatic, and contrasts with the tone of the rest of the document. …”