Washington Update

FASEB Joins Other Professional Societies on Letter Expressing Concerns about “Plan S”

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Thursday, February 28, 2019

As some private and European Union research funders continue to advocate for a more expansive open access publishing policy, FASEB and several federation members joined nearly 50 scientific societies in expressing concerns about elements of a new proposal known as “Plan S.”

The American Association of Immunologists, the American Physiological Society, American Society for Investigative Pathology, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Endocrine Society, and the Society of Toxicology were among the FASEB members that signed onto the letter.

Plan S was initiated in fall 2018 by a consortium affiliated with the European Research Council. The plan would require that, by 2020, individuals who receive government grants must publish their research exclusively in open access journals. The proposal also mandates new copyright regulations and caps on article publishing charges (APC) fees, and would not allow researchers to publish their work in hybrid journals.

Thus far, 16 research funders in 13 European countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have agreed to abide by Plan S requirements. Funders in China and Africa have also expressed interest. However, it is not clear if U.S. research agencies will follow European funders. U.S agencies are continuing to support existing policies that mandate depositing NIH-funded papers into PubMed Central.

Many of the groups that signed the letter participated in December 2018 discussions among scientific and medical organizations about the impact of Plan S on professional societies. Following that meeting, cOAlition S, a group supporting Plan S, requested input from the scientific and publishing community about the proposal.

Organized by the American Society of Hematology, the letter focused on three elements of significant concern to scientific societies: restrictions on hybrid journal publication, the mandate for a Creative Commons attribution license, and regulation of APC fees. In many disciplines, the letter states, the most respected journals are hybrids, and “the models proposed by cOAlition S do not currently serve the diverse needs of all researchers and research communities.” The letter noted that publication of hybrid journals provides important sources of financial support, allowing societies to offer educational and advocacy programs.

Regarding the proposed license requirements, Plan S supporters were encouraged to revise their proposal to “allow authors and publishers the full spectrum of Creative Commons licenses, including CC-BY-NC-ND, so authors and publishers can best choose a license that complies with Plan S, while protecting the integrity of their scholarly scientific and medical output.”

The letter mentioned that various subscription and APS revenues enable hybrid journals to publish other content in addition to research, including reviews, editorials, commentaries, case reports, and educational articles.