VSNU statement on Plan S: ambitions remain high, transition will require due care

The VSNU endorses the objectives of and has been actively involved in the developments on Open Science as stated in the National Plan Open Science (NPOS). Open Science aims to bring about a fundamental improvement of science by making the scientific process transparent and ensuring that research output is widely available. The social impact of science can in turn be strengthened through greater involvement in and accessibility of scientific output, including articles and research data. …

In addition to supporting the objectives of Plan S, the VSNU also recognises the concerns among scientists in particular. Before Plan S can make the desired contribution to our Open Access ambitions, these concerns must be properly addressed:


  • Enough time must be allowed for the transition: for instance, an additional round of transformative deals based on the scheduled evaluation in 2023.
  • The quality of the scientific publications is crucial. It must be clear to researchers which journals are reliable, while other initiatives such as platforms and repositories must have a clear and transparent review process. 
  • The independence of science continues to be guaranteed.
  • Publishing is and will remain affordable for all, and costs will be transparent.
  • Scientists have sufficient options for publishing their articles.
  • There is adequate consideration for the position of young or ‘early career’ researchers in particular.
  • Open Science and Open Access are given attention within the system of scholarly recognition and remuneration. This area will require commitment from scientists, but especially from managers and administrators. …”

Open access-International alignment

“This eZine gives readers the opportunity to contribute their views on how to achieve the goal of 100% open access. You can contribute by responding to the polling questions given for the various topics.

Major steps still need to be taken to further strengthen the link between science and society. In the year ahead, the VSNU will be bringing together various themes such as valuing and rewarding academics, open science and open access. Not only do we expect this development from ourselves, but also from the parties we work with. International ‘alignment’ is therefore very important if we are to achieve the desired disruptive effect regarding the transparency of science which is paid for with public funds. We are eager to see what we can achieve in this area and look forward to the resulting social impact….”

Towards 2020: progress in each of the five pillars

“In February 2017, in order to implement the European agreements in the Netherlands, the National Open Science Plan was presented by ten parties including KNAWNWO/ZonMw and VSNU/UKB. One of the main ambitions of this plan is to achieve 100% open access publication by 2020: i.e. scientific publications (articles, (sections of) books, reports) paid for by the government will be directly accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, for consultation and reuse from 2020 onwards.

The VSNU/UKB is the driving force behind this main ambition, which means that it has the task of initiating joint policies and then ensuring coordination between the key players in the field. Together with the parties which are most closely involved, agreements have been reached for the coming period (2018 – 2020). This is still taking place under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In the coalition agreement and the 2018 Higher Vocational Education Sector Agreement, it is specified that open access and open science are the norm for scientific research.

The Open access roadmap 2018-2020 eZine focuses on the five pillars of the plan. In this version, we provide background information about the progress and developments for each pillar. You can also give your opinion on the next steps to be taken….”

Where are we now?

“The results of publicly funded research must be freely available to all. By 2020, universities want to make all peer-reviewed articles by Dutch researchers open-access publications as standard. Following a request by the government, in 2013 the VSNU formulated a plan to achieve this goal.

‘The Dutch universities’ strategy is unique on the international stage,’ says Koen Becking, executive open-access negotiator for the VSNU and Executive Board President at Tilburg University. Together with Tim van der Hagen, Executive Board President at Delft University of Technology, and Anton Pijpers, Executive Board President at Utrecht University, he leads executive negotiations with the major publishing houses….

The Dutch approach is such a success because the universities have formed a single negotiating body and are supported by the government. In this regard, Becking refers to the government’s open-access policy, which was continued by the new government in 2017….”


Netherlands: VSNU Reaches Open Access Deal with Wolters Kluwer

“As part of its negotiations with Wolters Kluwer to extend the contract for legal and fiscal professional literature, the VSNU has agreed open-access terms. The 27 academic journals in Wolters Kluwer’s collection of otherwise mainly professional literature will be subject to new and explicit open-access embargo rules. The parties have agreed that academic articles from these 27 journals will be eligible for publishing in the public domain 6 to 12months after the date of their publication on Navigator and Wolters Kluwer’s other platforms.”

Nieuw open access-akkoord – U-Today

From Google Translate: “The agreements between the Dutch universities and Cambridge University Press (CUP) are unique, says Board Chairman Jaap Winter of the University, university association VSNU negotiator.

Aside Bought

The agreement with CUP universities have open access surrendered at once. Seventeen fully open access journals and 339 hybrid journals, Dutch researchers from June 1 to publish at no extra cost.

This is in discussions about open access as the ‘golden road’: the items are in the archives of the magazine itself and anyone can read them. Another form of open access is less far and is called the ‘green road’. Then scientists can make their articles freely accessible in an archive of their own university or at their website, but they are in the magazine itself still behind a paywall.

Oxford UP

The Dutch universities will only renew subscriptions to scientific journals and publishers open access one step closer. Negotiations with Oxford University Press this faltered .

In old subscription science actually pays twice: researchers write articles yourself and additionally paid subscriber to read the magazines. The results of (mostly publicly funded) research are also not accessible to outsiders.

The advocates of open access, including Secretary Sander Dekker, want to change that. Ideally pay science no longer to articles read , but to publish . The articles themselves are free for everyone.”

Agreement between VSNU and Elsevier on medical research articles

“Elsevier and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) share the commitment to maximize the visibility of Dutch Medical Research throughout the world. To support this common goal, Elsevier has developed a pilot to provide free public access to the final published journal article (PDF) as part of an open archive. Currently over 5,000 articles are available as part of this pilot.

Participation in the pilot is open for any author from a Dutch University publishing medically related research in Elsevier journal. After acceptance, authors will select the option ” A (medical) investigator from one of the Dutch Universities” in the funding body section of the Access and Rights form.  Elsevier will include their article in the open archive enabling free public access twelve months after publication….”

Comments on the VSNU-Elsevier deal

“The VSNU didn’t get all it wanted but it took a large step and plans to take more in the future. It also hopes that other universities will follow its lead.

Here’s where things get more complicated. We don’t know how much the Dutch universities must now pay for the Elsevier big deal. Clearly Elsevier raised its price so that a certain number of APCs from Dutch researchers could be considered built-in or pre-paid. But we don’t know the size of the price increase….It’s a pity that the price of the agreement is secret. If other universities knew the price, they could bargain more effectively with Elsevier (and other publishers). Because they don’t know the price, this success will spread more slowly than otherwise. This cuts against VSNU’s hope that other universities will take the same steps, just as it cuts against lobbying claims often made by Elsevier and other large publishers that open-access initiatives “interfere with the market”….Still, it’s a step forward. I hope other universities are moved to try harder bargaining than they’ve tried in the past. And I hope they succeed….

Here are two other caveats to keep in mind.

First, this kind of success helps entrench the APC or fee-based business model for gold OA. Charging author-side fees is a legitimate model. But (despite a popular myth) it’s only a minority model today, and there are good reasons why. The no-fee model works better for many authors, many disciplines, many journals, and many regions of the world. Giving no-fee journals an incentive to start charging fees is backward. And moving toward a business-model monoculture for gold OA is perverse.

Second, Dutch universities could have adopted green OA policies years ago. But none did, even though more than 500 other universities around the world have already done so. Green and gold have different advantages and I support both. Hence I support those who support gold. But because green and gold are compatible, even complementary (see Section 3.2 <http://goo.gl/tcSEnA> of my book <http://bit.ly/oa-book), it’s a serious tactical mistake to neglect the advantages of green while pursuing the advantages of gold. It’s like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. This is exactly what the Dutch universities have done. (It’s also what the Finch Committee and RCUK did at the national level in the UK, and what Sander Dekker seems to want to do at the national level in the Netherlands.). Green mandates don’t require bargaining with publishers. They don’t require paying more in subscriptions. They don’t pressure authors to publish in some journals rather than others. Depending on their terms, they can require immediate or unembargoed OA, and require open licenses. And they help create a world in which OA is the default, which makes negotiating with publishers easier and less expensive.”