FAQ about Plan S

1. What is Plan S?

Plan S is an open access initiative launched by the EU Commission and Science Europe. At its core is the objective that, from 1 January 2020, all scholarly publications resulting from public research funding must be published in open access journals or on open access platforms.

The plan has two primary goals: to make paywalled publications that result from publicly funded research accessible to everyone and to implement open access without unreasonable costs.

The Board of the Academy of Finland discussed Plan S at a meeting on 20 September 2018 and supports its objectives.

Plan S has been widely welcomed. Organisations such as the European University Association (EUA), the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) have declared their support for the objectives of the plan. Universities Finland (UNIFI), too, has announced that it demands immediate open access.

2. Which organisations support the implementation of Plan S?

Thus far, in addition to the EU Commission and Science Europe, the implementation of Plan S is supported by thirteen European research funders and three international research-funding foundations. The group of European research funders known as cOAlition S is still open to new funders that wish to join the initiative.

The Academy of Finland is one of the participants in cOAlition S.

For an updated list of participating funders and supporters, visit www.coalition-s.org/funders-and-supporters.

3. Why does the Academy of Finland want to participate in the activities of cOAlition S?

The Academy of Finland already requires that Academy-funded projects commit to open access publishing.

Making open access to scientific publications a reality requires collaboration and action at both national and international level. For example, we need to consider issues related to subscription fees, publishers’ revenue models, practical steps to promote high-quality open access publishing, arranging financing for domestic publication series and parallel publishing before we can remove paywalls and make scientific publications freely accessible to everyone.

Plan S and cOAlition S present a new form of collaboration that can provide solutions to these issues. Many actors have already started implementing open access publishing, but cooperation between funders, together with the work of various scientific actors, can create solutions that are sensible and feasible in terms of both research quality and open access.

That is why the Academy is keen to actively participate in cOAlition S and promote the Plan S objectives.

4. How will Plan S be implemented?

Plan S is an initiative whose implementation will require much discussion, preparation and a wide range of actions at both national and European level.

The plan was first published on 4 September 2018 (see www.coalition-s.org/why-plan-s).

After the publication of Plan S, the group of European research funders known as cOAlition S appointed a task force to prepare the implementation of the Plan S principles. On 26 November, the coalition published the results of the task force and announced an open consultation on an implementation guidance for Plan S. The guidance is open for feedback until 1 February 2019 at www.coalition-s.org/feedback.

The Academy of Finland encourages members of the Finnish scientific community to familiarise themselves with and comment on the implementation guidance. The Academy also welcomes comments, questions and suggestions by email at viestinta@aka.fi.

The Academy will organise two discussions on Plan S to support the open consultation. Read more about the events and register at www.aka.fi/PlanS (in Finnish).

5. To whom does Plan S apply?

In principle, the Plan S principles and support actions only apply to those research funders that have committed to implementing the plan.

The aim of Plan S is to change the methods of publishing within the scientific community, aiming at full open access, and to make the publishing costs reasonable. Reaching this objective requires collaboration between a wide range of international and national scientific actors, research funders and publishers. A comprehensive implementation of Plan S will also entail transitional periods.

6. What degree of openness is acceptable according to Plan S?

The open consultation on the implementation of Plan S includes background material that describes the aims for open access in more depth. Plan S compliance is based on three methods (‘roads’):

  • publication in open access journals or on open access platforms
  • deposit of versions of record (VoR) or author accepted manuscripts (AAM) in open access repositories without embargo
  • publication in ‘hybrid’ journals only under transformative agreements (such agreements include a clear and time-specified commitment to a full open access transition).

In other words, Plan S includes the opportunity to make use of green open access, as long as the openness is implemented immediately upon publication and the copy of the article is in compliance with the Plan S principles.

Hybrid publishing is still possible, but it must comply with the relevant principles of Plan S.

7. What is DORA and why does it have a key role in the implementation of Plan S?

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was developed in 2012 around the intention that research needs to be assessed on its own merits rather than based on the venue in which the research is published. DORA states that the impact factor (e.g. JIF or h-index) is not to be used as a substitute measure of the quality of researchers or their research.

DORA has been signed by a wide range of members and institutions of the scientific community, such as funding agencies, universities, scientific associations, libraries and archives, publishers and individual persons and researchers.

According to cOAlition S, openness supports the assessment of research by focusing on the quality of the research and not on the quality of the publication channels. Open access also diversifies the research output (e.g. research data and software) to be considered in evaluation and merit building. DORA and Plan S thus have similar aims.

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