Research Practices and Tools: How strong are the objections to Plan S?

After a coalition of European science funding agencies announced their Plan S initiative for open access, a number of researchers wrote an open letter criticizing the move, under the title “Reaction of Researchers to Plan S: Too Far, Too Risky”. To summarize, they fear that Plan S would increase costs, lower quality, and restrict academic freedom. In order to evaluate how seriously these fears should be taken, let me start with a 5-point analysis of the issues, before discussing the open letter’s specific concerns….

Why does the open letter worry so much about the “ranking and standing” of Plan S-subjected researchers, when the debate is about journals? The letter’s authors seem to accept the entrenched practice of judging researchers by the journals they publish in, although this is widely denounced as perverse. But it is not possible to significantly reform the publishing system without upsetting this practice, at least temporarily. If careers continue to be determined by numbers of articles in Nature or Science, then it is game over for open access and affordable publishing.


When it comes to open science, chemistry seems to lag behind fields such as physics and biology. The field’s leading publisher, the American Chemical Society, did not even join the Initiative for open citations. But chemists could welcome the opportunity to catch up. If you had no telephone and were offered a mobile phone, would you insist on installing a landline first?


The open letter has hundreds of signatories. Surely one could find among them enough well-respected researchers for building the editorial board of a new open access, affordable, high quality, generalist chemistry journal. They would not even need to do it from scratch: they could just start a new division of PeerJ or SciPost. Assuming of course that they really support open access, as the open letter claims in its first sentence.”

Open and Shut? The OA Interviews: Arul George Scaria

One common criticism of the open access and open science movements is that they tend to take a standardised view of science and scholarship, and so propose one-size-fits-all approaches when advocating for ways of making research and the research process more open and transparent. This often poses significant challenges for, for instance, researchers in non-STEM disciplines. It is also often deeply problematic for those based in the global South.

Impact of Social Sciences – Flipping a journal to open access will boost its citation performance – but to what degree varies by publisher, field and rank

“Many observers have drawn the logical conclusion that the increased exposure and visibility afforded by open access leads to improved citation performance of open access journals. Yang Li, Chaojiang Wu, Erjia Yan and Kai Li report on research examining the perceived open access advantage, paying particular attention to journals which have “flipped” to open access from a subscription model. Findings reveal that the estimated overall effect of open access is positive, with significant improvements to journals’ citation metrics. However, the degree to which a journal may improve varies according to its research field, publisher and quality profile….”

Do authors comply when funders enforce open access to research?

“Last month, European research funders collectively called for research publications to be made free, fully and immediately; so far, 14 funders have signed up. Before that, at least 50 funders and 700 research institutions worldwide had already mandated some form of open access for the work they support. Federally funded agencies and institutions argue that taxpayers should be able to read publicly funded research, and that broader accessibility will allow researchers whose institutions do not subscribe to a particular journal to build on existing research.

However, few empirical analyses have examined whether work supported by funding agencies with such mandates actually is open access14. Here, we report the first large-scale analysis of compliance, focusing on 12 selected funding agencies. Bibliometric data are fraught with idiosyncrasies (see ‘Analysis methods’), but the trends are clear.

Of the more than 1.3 million papers we identified as subject to the selected funders’ open-access mandates, we found that some two-thirds were indeed freely available to read. Rates varied greatly, from around 90% for work funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and UK biomedical funder the Wellcome Trust, to 23% for work supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (see ‘Mandates matter’)….

Our findings have policy implications. They highlight the importance to open access of enforcement, timeliness and infrastructure. And they underline the need to establish sustainable and equitable systems as the financial burdens for science publishing shift from research libraries to authors’ research funds….

Funders that allow authors to deposit papers after publication see lower rates of compliance, presumably because authors lose track of this obligation….

in chemistry research, 81% of work funded by the NIH is publicly available, whereas that is true of only around one-quarter of chemistry studies supported by the NSF and CIHR. Different funders support different types of work, but the variations we found also remain consistent within sub-disciplines (see Supplementary Information, Figure S5). Although researchers cite norms and needs within disciplines as a reason not to comply with open-access mandates, we believe that the funding agency is a stronger driver of open access than is the culture of any particular discipline….”

Universalisation of Scientifc Dissemination

“This is a presentation given on September 28th by Dr. Eric Archambault, world expert in bibliometrics and founder of 1science, during Scielo 20 Years Conference in São Paulo, Brazil.The panel was entitled ” Open Access – routes towards universalization : gold and hybrid journals, green, and others” His contribution, “Universalization of (OA) scientific dissemination”, demonstrates the limitation of traditional databases in measuring OA and shows how the 1findr product has universal discovery and inclusive measures.”

Open Access Book Publishing 2018-2022 : Market Research Report

[This work is not OA and not close. A single user license costs $1,995.]

“This report explains the origins of the open access movement, gives a timeline for its development, but most importantly, Simba Information quantifies open access book publishing as a market segment. Simba used the information it gathered through primary and secondary research to develop a financial outlook for open access book publishing with market projections through 2022. This research was conducted in conjunction with a larger study of the overall market for scholarly and professional publishing….

Examples of some of the issues discussed include:

  • The continued evolution of open access
  • The impact of open access in social science and humanities vs. scientific, technical and medical
  • Prevailing business models and experiments
  • Open access mandates spread to books
  • Opportunity for monographs and conference proceedings
  • Emerging markets fertile ground for open access….”

Will open access increase journal CiteScores? An empirical investigation over multiple disciplines



This paper empirically studies the effect of Open Access on journal CiteScores. We have found that the general effect is positive but not uniform across different types of journals. In particular, we investigate two types of heterogeneous treatment effect: (1) the differential treatment effect among journals grouped by academic field, publisher, and tier; and (2) differential treatment effects of Open Access as a function of propensity to be treated. The results are robust to a number of sensitivity checks and falsification tests. Our findings shed new light on Open Access effect on journals and can help stakeholders of journals in the decision of adopting the Open Access policy.

Trends for open access to publications | European Commission

“On this page you will find indicators on how the policies of journals and funding agencies favour open access, and the percentage of publications (green and gold) actually available through open access.

The indicators cover bibliometric data on publications, as well as data on funders’ and journals’ policies. Indicators and case studies will be updated over time.”

Studies on Subject-Specific Requirements for Open Access Infrastructure

Abstract:  The main purpose of this chapter is to report how researchers investigating in the area of e-Infrastructures organize their activities of “data and publication management” and themselves rely on research infrastructures to do so. Due to the early age of this field and its rather multidisciplinary computer science character, no well-established research infrastructure is available and researchers tend to follow “infrastructure-flavoured” solutions local to their organizations. As a consequence, the authors of this chapter (from the DLib research group at CNR, Italy and the MADGIK research group at the University of Athens, Greece) opted to approach this study by collecting a number of experiences from relevant stakeholders in the field in order to identify “local infrastructure” commonalities and “research infrastructure” desiderata.

An interview with the co-founder of – the world’s first Artificial Intelligence science assistant | The Saint

“Have you ever spent hours sifting through journal papers? Ever got frustrated at your inability to find relevant research? Ever wished that there was an easier way to filter the seemingly endless stream of information on the web? The team at certainly did, which is why they have created an AI-powered science assistant to help anyone that wants to find related papers for an original research question. The software – – can be used to build a precise reading list of research documents, and the company claims that it can solve your research problems 78% faster (without compromising quality) than if you were carrying out the tasks manually. The concept for was first established three years ago at NASA Ames Research Centre. The team was taking part in a summer programme run by Singularity University (SU) when they were set the task of creating a concept that would positively affect the lives of a billion people. This exercise got the team thinking about the current state of scientific research, and more specifically about the restrictions created by paywalls, and the inability of human intelligence alone to process the three thousand or so research papers that are published around the world every single day….

When asked about challenges that the team have experienced so far, Ms Ritola was quick to point out the issue of paywalls. She explained that the system is connected to about 130 million open access papers – almost all those available to the public – but that many useful documents are still hidden behind systems that require users to pay for access.

However, rather than just accepting this situation as it is, the team have devised a scheme to solve the problem– Project Aiur – an initiative that aims to revolutionise the current workings of the research world.

“What we’re trying to do is to build a community, which is not owned by us, but by a community of researchers, a community of coders, anyone who wants to contribute to building a new economic model for science that works around a community governed AI-based Knowledge Validation Engine and an open, validated repository of science. Over time, the goal is to give access to all the research articles that are in this world”, Ms Ritola told The Saint.

This is not a straightforward task, as the team are faced with the challenge of encouraging researchers to publish and carry out their investigations using Aiur rather than the current systems- something that will take a fair amount of research and incentivisation. The team have started a pledge, offering students and researchers the chance to be an “advocate for validated, reproducible, open-access scientific research.” At the time of the interview,Ms Ritola informed The Saint that more than 5,000 people had signed the pledge….”