“The decision by the governing body of the European Research Council (ERC) to pull support for the radical open access initiative Plan S, is a “slap in the face” to all those who support the scheme, said its creator.
Robert-Jan Smits, the European Commission’s former director general for research and innovation, and also one of the founding fathers of the ERC, said the COVID-19 crisis “has shown the importance of making the results of publicly funded research immediately available” and not locked behind expensive paywalls with embargo periods….”
“IARLA, representing the research libraries of Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, and the United States, would like to express support for the new cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy. Under the strategy, participating funders will “require that a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY) is applied to all Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAMs) or Versions of Record (VoR) reporting original research, supported in whole or in part by their funding.
The cOAlition S funders want to effect a critical shift in the licensing landscape that would ensure that authors are able to publish in their journal of choice while also making their work openly accessible. The strategy overrides the rights transfer requirements that many publishers require as a condition of publishing in their journals.
Research libraries are committed to universal access to scholarly outputs, and believe that COVID-19 has clearly highlighted the inherent value of immediate openness within the scientific process. This cOAlition S strategy strengthens the repository-based route and signals the continued importance of a robust network of open repositories as a viable means to provide access to global scholarship. …”
“I was dismayed to read your press release of 20th July announcing that you are withdrawing your support from cOAlition S and Plan S. I was even more dismayed to see that you rationalized this based on the needs of “young researchers who represent the future of European science and innovation”, arguing that the unavailability of APC funding for hybrid journals under Plan S is detrimental to early career researchers. As a young researcher and ERC Starting Grant awardee myself, I would like to take this opportunity to state categorically that I do not recognize this argument as valid.
The harm that hybrid journals cause to the ecosystem of scholarly publishing is well known. In particular, through “double dipping” — charging subscription fees at the same time as full APCs for Open Access articles — publishers of such journals are able to appropriate a far greater quantity of public funds than would otherwise be possible. Pinfield et al. (2015) demonstrate empirically, in a UK context, that double dipping is not merely a theoretical issue, but a genuine problem; they also show that hybrid journals charge on average vastly higher APCs than fully Gold Open Access journals, strongly suggesting that funding Open Access publication in hybrid journals represents bad value for money….”
“Dramatic U-turn by Europe’s premier research agency casts doubt on feasibility of scheme to make scientific papers free to read as soon as they are published….The governing body of the European Research Council (ERC) has dealt a severe blow to radical open access initiative Plan S, announcing it is withdrawing support for the scheme….”
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“Groups representing young researchers have expressed surprise at the decision of the European Research Council’s governing Scientific Council to withdraw its support from the Plan S open-access initiative.
Under Plan S, a group of funders known as Coalition S will require researchers they support to make their work openly available immediately from 2021 in outlets that meet certain criteria. The requirements are being adopted in the EU’s 2021-27 R&D programme Horizon Europe, including the ERC.
The ERC Council, an independent body of researchers that helps to set the strategic direction of the EU funder, had previously expressed its support for Plan S, but on 20 July it announced a U-turn, saying the impact of Plan S on young researchers and countries with limited funds had been underestimated. In particular, the ERC Council expressed concern about Plan S terms for publication in hybrid journals that offer both subscription and open-access options….”
“cOAlition S remains firm in its view that support for hybrid journals has failed to accelerate the transition to full and immediate Open Access over the past two decades. The already scarce funding in the Horizon Europe Framework Programme should not be used for the payment of publication fees in hybrid journals. Indeed, outside of transformative agreements, the hybrid model has no effective means to keep double-dipping by publishers in check. For this reason, many European countries, from Germany to Hungary, have recently put in place transformative agreements with publishers.
Maintaining the current status quo on hybrid journals will exacerbate inequalities among European researchers, since only those that benefit from generous funding will be able to cover expensive publication fees. In contrast, the cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy which provides Open Access in compliance with Plan S via the repository route, will empower all researchers to publish in their journal of choice, including subscription and hybrid journals.
cOAlition S is particularly attentive to the concerns of Early Career Researchers (ECR). We are grateful for the support of many ECR organisations, including the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc), the Global Young Academy (GYA), the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) and the Young Academy of Europe (YAE). These organisations are closely collaborating with cOAlition S in order to further shape Plan S, to monitor its implementation, and to evaluate potential effects for the next generation of researchers….”
“The ERC Scientific Council is committed to implementing full and immediate Open Access and continues to support the principles underlying Plan S. Members of the ERC Scientific Council are participating constructively in various activities aimed at making Open Access a reality.
However, during the past six months, the ERC Scientific Council has intensified its internal debate and reached a unanimous decision to follow a path towards Open Access implementation that is independent of cOAlition S activities. Therefore it has decided to withdraw as a supporter of cOAlition S. In doing so, the ERC Scientific Council wishes to pay closer attention to a number of aspects whose importance has been rather underestimated. Most prominent among them are researchers’ needs, especially those of young researchers who represent the future of European science and innovation. Other aspects include the need to preserve equity among research communities and among European countries, with particular emphasis on countries with more limited national financial support for research.
In particular, cOAlition S has declared that the publication of research results in hybrid venues outside of transformative arrangements will be ‘non-compliant’ as of 1 January 2021, leading to the non-eligibility of related publication costs. The Scientific Council considers that this will be detrimental, especially for early career researchers, researchers working in countries with fewer alternative funding opportunities or working in fields in which Open Access policies are more difficult to implement….”
“Reversal is intended to ‘preserve equity among research communities’ and protect young researchers
The European Research Council’s governing Scientific Council—an independent body of researchers that sets the strategic direction for the flagship EU research funder—has announced it is withdrawing its support for the radical open-access initiative Plan S, which the ERC is due to align with from 2021.
“In doing so, the ERC Scientific Council wishes to pay closer attention to a number of aspects [of Plan S] whose importance has been rather underestimated,” the Council said on 20 July.
It cited concerns over how Plan S will affect researchers’ needs, “especially those of young researchers”, as well as the “need to preserve equity among research communities and among European countries, with particular emphasis on countries with more limited national financial support for research”. …”
“Late last week, cOAlition S unveiled a new policy, characterized as a “Rights Retention Strategy,” which will apply to all research underwritten by the coalition’s membership of funding agencies. The new policy continues and expands the Plan S requirement that all publications arising from research funded by cOAlition S members be made immediately and freely available to the public under the terms of a Creative Commons attribution-only (CC BY) license or its equivalent.
Though billed misleadingly by cOAlition S as a plan “to safeguard researchers’ intellectual ownership rights,” both the purpose and the effect of this expanded strategy remain — as has always been the case with Plan S publishing requirements — to take intellectual ownership rights away from authors, transferring them to the general public (rather than to publishers)….”