S for slow in Euro open access

The EU backed Plan S requires publicly funded research to be free to read on publication – it is not off to a racing start

The scheme was operational for all of last year but “overarching OA” went down  – from 78 per cent in 2020 to 73 per cent in ’21.

Green OA (free to read, free to publish) declined most from 25 per cent in 2021 to 16 per cent while Gold OA (free to read but pay to publish) increased, from 39 per cent to 47 per cent.  The Plan S annual review suggests that “many” articles published in ’21 were submitted prior to the scheme starting and so it is too early to evaluate progress.

However, “hybrid OA” also increased by 4 per cent to a third of all OA – with free to read articles appearing in subscription-only journals if an article processing charge is paid. Plan S suggest this is due to researchers publishing in a “transformative” journal (on the way to full OA) or as part of “a read and publish agreement”. This is the model being used by the Council of Australian University Librarians which has negotiated agreements with a range of publishers where free to read and free to publish is built into subscription costs.

But while agreements are being reached, Plan S suggests some publishers are digging in when research institutions adopt a rights retention strategy. This involves staff lodging on publication the author accepted manuscript of an article in their institution’s OA repository. UNSW has just adopted such a policy (CMM january 17).

Plan S suggests publishers oppose this because, they “fear of losing lucrative Gold OA resources.”


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