Peak library and data access groups back Euro open access

The Council of Australian University Librarians has  declared support for the European open access Plan S –which calls for all scholarly publications which result from publicly funded research to be published in OA journals or OA platforms from 2020.

Who says what: The 39-member CAUL, with the 17 Aus and eight NZ university members in the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group “welcome the aspirations of Plan S to move towards immediate full open access.”

“We share the frustration of the plan’s architects that there has not been sufficient movement by publishers towards OA and agree that there is an imperative to compel publishers to address the needs of researchers and funders by providing the services that the research sector needs in order to implement full open access,” they announce.

Local needs to meet: However, they also call for an approach that meets the specific circumstances of the ANZ research communities; notably the role of repositories, which local funding agencies support for open access and which universities maintain. And they urge adoption of Green Open Access (no charge to research readers or authors) to make this possible.

“Support for repositories is essential if countries like Australia and New Zealand are to reach a position where Plan S could be adopted by their funding agencies.

“Without a viable Green OA option, it will be impossible for Australia, New Zealand and other countries that rely on repositories for OA to comply with Plan S.”

Easier said than done: The coalition also acknowledges that deciding Plan S should happen, and making it so are not quite the same.

“The implementation plan is not clear on whether responsibility for the implementation of Plan S sits with the research institutions, or the funders. If the latter, how will funders be supported to cover the administrative overheads for the management of author copyrights, or compliance? Will the financial burden shift from universities (eg, subscription costs) to funders for publishing charges? In this context, it will be important to ensure funders will be willing and fully equipped to adopt Plan S.”

More involved than articles: And the coalition warns Plan S needs to expand to cover data, which publishers are also keen on commercialising.

Commercial publishers are rapidly building infrastructure, workflows and business models to attract and accommodate a growing corpus of research data into their business. Their aim is undoubtedly to grow their business and revenue streams. The result may ultimately mirror the control and manipulation in the current journal article publishing marketplace. With the adoption and implementation of national research data services, we believe that Plan S should be inclusive of all research outputs. Addressing OA to research data via Plan S now will exert additional pressure on commercial publishers and research-intensive institutions to influence research culture and researcher behaviour.”

What it means: The feds having to fund any local Plan S is what. In addition to the infrastructure costs CAUL and AOASG set-out, the for-profit publishers will simply not shut-down their pay-to-subscribe, pay-to-read, pay-to-publish journals money-printing presses.  There are stalemates across Europe where university systems and publishers cannot agree on access and journals are not available in libraries. This would cause academic uproar here, given OA is nowhere as high-profile.

Which means universities will look to the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council, who fund most research, for help – and the agencies will look to the feds.  The brief for the incoming minister after the election is being updated now.


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