“The resultant welter of narrowly defined projects and services does little to improve the overall ability of researchers to accomplish their primary goals, or drastically simplify their working lives, and so the transition to open is occurring at only a modest rate. The frustration this engenders amongst the open activists leads them to resort almost exclusively to political tools, the aim being to coerce the adoption of various ugly ducklings which, with luck and sufficient prayer, might over time develop into some kind of beautifully open research communications swan – but equally well might not.
To adopt another metaphor, the approach to reaching openness pursued to date, and exemplified by Plan S, could be compared to an attempt to replace a plane’s fuselage whilst the plane is in mid-air. But rather than attempting massive ‘in-flight re-engineering’ of the existing scholarly communications system, which risks creating as many new problems as it solves, it would seem sensible to do what one does in any information systems project involving wholesale change: build a pilot of the new system which can be run alongside the existing system. Once the new system is proven, the old system can be retired. It would not be premature, after several decades of mudslinging, politicking and piecemeal tinkering, for interested stakeholders now to attend as a practical matter to the development of a parallel academic publishing infrastructure. I’m thinking here of a unified, global, end-to-end system that enabled authors to submit, with a single click, research outputs into a single academic content space, which would be indexed and clustered to enable readers to find content effortlessly according to multiple criteria.”