Global support for Plan S gathers pace

“The Plan S open-access initiative, which has divided researchers in Europe, is inching closer to the global backing it needs to bring about a revolution in academic publishing.

Plan S gained potentially transformative support on 12 February when K Vijay Raghavan, the Indian government’s principal scientific adviser, announced that his country would join the coalition of funders backing the initiative. “India joining Coalition S: journal subscriptions, publishing charges block access to publicly funded knowledge,” he said on Twitter. He added that India would “optimise” the initiative to its benefit, but did not elaborate on how or specify which of the country’s funders would participate….

Smits told Research Europe that Jordan and Zambia’s National Science and Technology Council had also signed up this year. Other signatories include the philanthropic funder the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and 15 European funders.

Along with many research organisations in Europe, three national organisations in China have expressed their support without signing up….

In January, Plan S was criticised by Arianna Becerril-Garcia, the president of a similar initiative called Open Knowledge for Latin America and the Global South (Amelica), which was launched in December 2018. She described Plan S as Eurocentric, regulatory and a source of concern for the global south.

But Smits and Becerril-Garcia have now agreed that the two initiatives should try to work together. Becerril-Garcia said that a good starting point would be to discuss the feedback Amelica submitted to Plan S, “where we highlight the importance to propose actions for scholarly-led and community-driven open access”. She said she would invite Smits to meet in Mexico….”

Plan S must consider researcher demand for OA | The Bookseller

“Springer Nature is passionate about and committed to Open Access (OA) publishing and the greater use of Open Science techniques because of the benefits they bring to the advancement of science and research. Our data shows OA articles attract greater citations, higher numbers of downloads, and increased wider impact.  This really matters and is why we agree with, and share, Plan S’ stated goal of accelerating the transition to full OA.

As an OA first mover who has been publishing more OA articles for longer and in more diverse ways than any other organisation in the world, we know the (multiple) challenges that need to be overcome to accelerate the take up of OA. We have tried many approaches, not all have worked, but through continued commitment and investment we have found a range of approaches that together are already supporting the growth of OA.

That is why the Plan S consultation which closed on Friday (8th February) has been so important. It has enabled us to really look at our business, properly reflect on our role as a global publisher committed to meeting the needs of all research, all researchers and all funders, and propose a set of recommendations, backed by extensive experience and hard data that we strongly believe will help everyone to deliver on this joint goal.

For example, the Plan S implementation guidance calls for publishers to flip 100% of their hybrid journals to fully OA once current Read and Publish deals come to an end.  As The Bookseller highlights, we think this is unacceptable as it ignores the role hybrids have played in the advancement of OA and fundamentally ignores the data. With OA penetration rates of between 73-90% being achieved in the four countries where our deals are most mature, and the fact that such rates are only being achieved because of the flexibility hybrid journals offer, we simply do not understand the desire to scrap mechanisms that are actually accelerating the take-up of open access. Let’s not abandon them or commit to abandon them without very good reasons….”

Global Open Access Book Publishing market 2013-2017 & 2018-2022

[This is a press release for a report priced at $1,995.]

“The Large STM Commercial Publishers Will Be Slow Join the Party…

This report explains the origins of the open access movement, gives a timeline for its development, but most importantly, the author quantifies open access book publishing as a market segment, using 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….”

Journal editor hopes mass walkout quickens open access progress | Times Higher Education (THE)

The editor of a journal whose editorial board staged a mass walkout has said that he hopes that the decision encourages others to do the same.

After more than a year of crisis talks, the full editorial board of The Journal of Informetrics, a quarterly, peer-reviewed title published by Elsevier, resigned on 12 January, citing immovable differences over the publisher’s lack of progress towards open access….”

Chinese support for Plan S ‘major blow’ to opponents | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Chinese endorsement of Europe’s Plan S open-access initiative represents a major and unexpected blow to publishers that have criticised the scheme, according to its backers….

While it was unclear whether China would simply adopt Plan S or draw up its own open-access policies, the move is significant because it challenges the image of Plan S as being purely a regional initiative.

Chinese universities attach huge significance to publication in prestigious subscription journals – offering scientists awards of up to $165,000 (£131,000) for papers in Nature and Science, according to one report – so the country had been regarded as constituting a major bulwark against making open access a global movement.


However, position papers published by the three Chinese bodies say that they support the vision of Plan S “to transform, as soon as possible, research papers from publicly funded projects into immediate open access after publication”. The organisations say that they “support a wide range of flexible and inclusive measures to achieve this goal”….

A key argument advanced by opponents of Plan S is that it would limit academic collaboration and opportunities for scholars if major parts of the world, such as China, did not sign up to it. This was a key plank of an open letter published last month and signed by more than 1,500 people….”

University of California in subscription showdown with Elsevier | Times Higher Education (THE)

The long-running battle to oust high-cost subscription journals from the world of research is at a showdown moment, with a leading US university system set to break from the globe’s biggest academic publisher.

The University of California system is down to the final weeks of its $11 million (£8.8 million) per year contract with Elsevier and, with negotiations stalled, it has begun telling its faculty to brace for impact….”

Toward an Open Knowledge Research Graph: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  Knowledge graphs facilitate the discovery of information by organizing it into entities and describing the relationships of those entities to each other and to established ontologies. They are popular with search and e-commerce companies and could address the biggest problems in scientific communication, according to Sören Auer of the Technische Informationsbibliothek and Leibniz University of Hannover. In his NASIG vision session, Auer introduced attendees to knowledge graphs and explained how they could make scientific research more discoverable, efficient, and collaborative. Challenges include incentivizing researchers to participate and creating the training data needed to automate the generation of knowledge graphs in all fields of research.

“Ag-Gag” Laws: Evolution, Resurgence, and Public Health Implications

Abstract:  The term “ag-gag” refers to state laws that intentionally limit public access to information about agricultural production practices, particularly livestock production. Originally created in the 1990s, these laws have recently experienced a resurgence in state legislatures. We discuss the recent history of ag-gag laws in the United States and question whether such ag-gag laws create a “chilling effect” on reporting and investigation of occupational health, community health, and food safety concerns related to industrial food animal production. We conclude with a discussion of the role of environmental and occupational health professionals to encourage critical evaluation of how ag-gag laws might influence the health, safety, and interests of day-to-day agricultural laborers and the public living proximal to industrial food animal production.

An audacious new plan will make all science free. Can it work? | New Scientist

“This may sound like the beginning of a tedious story of interest only to academics and publishers. I suspected so too when I started looking into it, but I soon discovered I was wrong. The battle over scientific publishing is a tale of big money, piracy, hacking, infighting, fake news and free speech. At stake is the soul of science itself. And after bubbling away for 20 years, it is about to boil over, with unpredictable consequences for all of us….”