From Finch to Plan S: and you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?

Collection launched: 06 Mar 2019

The Finch Report reaches the grand age of seven this year, and with the advent of Plan S, Insights wanted to commemorate the progress and the frustration with open access (OA) and open science with a special collection.

We have gone through the catalogue of previously published articles to give an interesting overview of what has been happening at the coalface since the Finch report. Post Finch, Sykes suggested that ‘there is nothing inevitable about the triumph of open access’. The bigger picture that emerges from the articles is certainly that a great deal of effort and compromise have brought us to a place much closer to the end-game than we were back in 2012. However, as the various articles show, there is a great diversity of thought on how to get to where we think we ought to be. There is a value in healthy debate, particularly when there is the benefit that OA can bring. In the days leading up to the Plan S announcement, articles in Insights signalled a more urgent tone (Earney, 2018; Lundén, Smith and Wideberg, 2018) as things were not moving fast enough in navigating the bumpy golden road towards OA (Otegem, Wennström and Hormia-Poutanen, 2018). This is something that cOAlition-S explicitly targeted. Finally, Johnson (2019) brings the special collection to a close with a round-up of the immediate aftermath post Plan S. Like you, we await the next chapter….”

A change of plan for UK open access? | Wonkhe | Policy Watch

“So for me the headline advice expected in a report to the minister from Adam Tickell is that the current ‘preference for Gold OA is expensive – and there is a need for clarity as to whether the UK should maintain this approach….’ 

The fact that Gold OA comes at a cost is a clear disincentive for many researchers despite being a REF requirement – especially where a grant may not cover publication costs or where interesting work is being carried out without a grant. The research councils currently provide block funding for APCs, but this is unlikely to be a permanent feature – we might see a short extension, but only if the Gold OA policy direction continues.

If it does, and if we assume that current price trends and publishing patterns continue – and that OA take-up in the UK were to reach 100% by 2025 – total expenditure would rise to £362m in 2020, and £818m in 2028 – over three times the 2016 figure in real terms. We understand there’ll be some economic modelling published alongside Tickell’s advice, which looks at these figures across a variety of scenarios….”

Plan S: how important is open access publishing? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Dislike of gold open access is also partly responsible for researchers’ opposition to Plan S. Lynn Kamerlin, professor of structural biology at Uppsala University, is one of the instigators of the open letter against it. While she pledges strong support for open access, she is happy with the current rate of progress and sees the recent “explosion” in the use of preprint servers as illustrative of the range of routes towards it. She fears that the details of Plan S’ “embargo requirements and repository technical requirements…are so draconian that paid-for gold becomes the easiest way to fulfil them”. This will convert the “nudges” towards gold in existing funder mandates (which she supports) into a “shove”, which will be “a disaster for the research community” because it will disadvantage those unable to pay article processing charges and “seriously jeopardise the much more rigorous quality control standards provided by high-quality society journals compared to the high-volume for-profit business model, which has an inbuilt conflict of interest”.

Nor is Kamerlin alone in expressing a concern that the allegedly lower standards of peer review practised by fully open access journals have compromised quality. But, for Suber, debating quality rather misses the point. “Yes, there is some low-quality open access work, but there’s also low-quality subscription journal work, and people who step back [to see the bigger picture] always acknowledge that,” he says. “Quality and access are completely independent of each other. Open access isn’t a kind of peer review, it’s a kind of dissemination.”

However, he agrees with Kamerlin that the “green” form of open access, whereby academics post work that is in subscription journals on their institutional repositories or elsewhere…is another good option….”

Open and Shut?: The OA Interviews: Peter Mandler

“To date, much of the public debate [about Plan S] has focussed on the implications for scientists. Yet the impact on Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) scholars looks likely to be more profound.

The implications for HSS journals and learned societies are of particular concern, and there are real fears that the rules that will be applied to journals (including compulsory CC BY) will be extended to books too – a move that is felt would be entirely inappropriate. cOAlition S has yet to issue guidance on this but has said that it plans to do so. To add to the concern, earlier this year it was announced that to be eligible for the 2027 REF long-form scholarly works and monographs will have to be published OA. Monographs are key vehicles for HSS scholars to communicate their research.

 

What is particularly frustrating for UK-based HSS scholars is that Plan S looks set to rip up the settlement that was reached in the wake of the 2012 Finch Report. Wounds that had begun to heal will be re-opened.

 

As Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, puts it in the interview below, “[I]t’s as if we haven’t had the five years of post-Finch arguments! We’re just going to have to have them all over again.”

 

For a sense of the challenge Plan S poses for HSS scholars please read on….”

What does it cost to publish a Gold Open Access article?

“Folks, we have to have the vision to look beyond what is happening right now in our departments. Gold OA does, for sure, mean a small amount of short-term pain. It also means a massive long-term win for us all.”