Plan S for Open Access

What is Plan S?

Plan S was announced on September 4th, 2018 by cOAlition S, a group comprised of the European Commission, the European Research Council, and 11 European national funders.  It is an ambitious  initiative that aims to ensure (by 2020) immediate open access publication of research funded national funding organizations.  Plan S states:“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.” Read more at the  Ten Principles of Plan S.

How does Plan S impact Open Access in the United States?

Although Plan S is a European initiative, developments in Europe have an important influence on open access and scholarly communication conversations in other parts of the world, including the United States.  Authors, librarians, and scholars have observed European academic publishing and institutional practices closely as leaders in open access development and implementation. For example, members of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative coined the term “open access” and articulated ways in which scholarship could be published and shared openly online. After that, the 2011 Horizon 2020 proposal recommended that all funded research in Europe be made openly available via open access publication or an open repository, a proposal that saw implementation by 2013.  Following European progress towards and support of openly available research, in February 2013 the Obama Administration issued the “Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research” policy memorandum stating that publicly funded research must be made easily and openly available to the public.  The memorandum resulted in the 2015 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Mandate for Public Access to Federally Funded Research Results. Now research funded by public organizations (e.g., NSF, NIH, etc.) must be made publicly available once it is published.

Today, Plan S takes the OSTP Mandate a step further by stating that research funded by public grants must be published in open access journals or immediately (in its final published state) on open access platforms. While the United States may be months or years from takings steps like this, Plan S has already generated significant conversations within US scholarly communication, open access, and research circles. There is both healthy optimism and concern around Plan S and its success, and these conversations are sure to lead towards progress and innovation in efforts to increase open access to the world’s research and scholarship. Follow some of these conversations on Twitter, #plan_s

For questions about this or other scholarly communication issues, please reach out:

Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian


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