The Open Access movement has received an enormous boost today with the launch of Science Europe’s 10 principles of Plan S, devised by Robert-Jan Smits, the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission. Already 11 national research funding organisations have agreed to implement the 10 principles of Plan S in a coordinated way, forming cOAlition S, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC).
This decisive action on behalf of the research funding community reinforces the efforts of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, constituting a strategic alignment in the drive to accelerate the transition to open access with concrete measures aimed at removing our financial support of a scholarly communication system based on paywalled subscriptions.
By designating the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing as not compliant with the principles of Plan S, the funding bodies of cOAlition S are putting an end to “double dipping” and, thus, increasing the leverage power of their investments in precisely the same way that national consortia are using their subscription expenditures as leverage to inject open access into license negotiations. Like the successful flanking tactics in the Battle at Marathon, research funding organizations and research performing institutions (via their libraries and consortia) are now working on both sides of the scholarly communication chain to rein in the expenditures flowing to subscription publishers and lay siege to paywalls.
Recognizing the work of the Open Access 2020 Initiative and those research performing organizations that are taking active steps to convert their subscription expenditures into funds that support open access publishing, the President of Science Europe, Marc Schiltz specifically acknowledges transformative agreements (publish and read, offsetting, etc.) as a valuable, complementary strategy in the Preamble to Plan S:
We acknowledge that ‘transformative’ type of agreements, where subscription fees are offset against publication fees, may contribute to accelerate the transition to full Open Access. Therefore, it is acceptable that, during a transition period that should be as short as possible, individual funders may continue to tolerate publications in ‘hybrid’ journals that are covered by such a ‘transformative’ type of agreement.
As Schiltz further states, “There is no valid reason to maintain any kind of subscription-based business model for scientific publishing in the digital world, where Open Access dissemination is maximising the impact, visibility, and efficiency of the whole research process.”
A new, open paradigm in scholarly communication starts with a commitment to remove financial support of the subscription system. As Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research Science and Innovation has stated, “Now is the time for us to act collectively to make [open access] a reality.”