“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.”