A Response to Plan-S from Academic Researchers: Unethical, Too Risky!
peter.suber's bookmarks 2018-09-11
Abstract: Open access (OA) publishing in general has many advantages over traditional subscription, or toll access (TA), publishing: it not only makes science accessible to a larger public, but also expands the reach of individual researchers and the potential impact of their research. Plan S is a noble effort to move OA forward. However, Plan S targets one audience – TA publishers – without fully considering another – researchers themselves. Providing OA to publications is already possible and becoming common practice among researchers. Existing high-quality hybrid (OA + TA) professional (society) journals provide ample opportunities for OA publishing, while providing excellent quality-control systems based on best practice and long-term experience. Institutional repositories (sponsored by universities or professional societies) support Green OA, which provides researchers the opportunity to make even their exclusively TA publications OA. Yet, in the eyes of certain policy makers and funding bodies, the current system is apparently ‘wrong’ for several unclear reasons. Politicians, research councils, and funding bodies in 11 European countries (cOAlition S) have embraced a policy that favors a particular version of Gold OA and recently decided to accelerate the OA transition by signing on to Plan S. Within 2-3 years, researchers supported by the research councils and funding bodies signing on to Plan S will be required to publish in either purely Gold OA journals – hybrid OA journal publication will be prohibited – or vaguely defined “compliant” OA platforms. Is this really a good idea? Forbidding researchers to publish in existing subscription journals has many unwanted side effects, putting knowledge production & society at severe risk. Forced gold OA publishing could lead to higher costs for many high quality journals and an overload of papers of low quality or limited novelty in lower quality journals. Furthermore, in the likely event that the rest of the world will not join in, Plan S will severely hamper internationalization of PhD students and postdocs, and discourage collaborations between the cOAlition S countries and the rest of the world. Finally, insofar as it mandates a limited set of publication venues, Plan S violates researchers’ academic freedom. So is Plan S objectively an advancement? We think not. Please read our standpoint detailed below, and see if you come to the same conclusion. We also provide alternatives that are less radical, and likely less costly, than Plan S.