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UCL response to Plan S consultation

Catherine LSharp21 January 2019

UCL has submitted an institutional response to the Plan S consultation. This response was shaped by the UCL Plan S Town Hall meeting that was held on 8 January (and also takes into account subsequent feedback received from UCL academics). The response, and the supporting document (notes from the Town Hall meeting) are available below.

UCL response
UCL Plan S Town Hall meeting notes

UCL Plan S Town Hall meeting

Catherine LSharp10 January 2019

Plan S requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

Plan S is an initiative for open access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. This group currently comprises 13 national research funding organisations (including UK Research and Innovation/UK Research Councils) and three charitable foundations (including the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) from 13 countries. Together with the European Commission and the ERC, they have agreed to implement the 10 principles of Plan S in a coordinated way.

UCL held a Town Hall meeting on 8 January to discuss the principles of Plan S, as well as what its implementation will mean for researchers. Around 115 staff from across UCL attended. The Open Access Team would like to thank everyone who shared their views and questions.

Presentations from the meeting are now available:

cOAlition S is running a consultation on the Plan until 8 February 2019. You can contribute to the consultation directly. To arrange a meeting in your department to discuss the implications of Plan S, contact the Open Access Team at open-access@ucl.ac.uk.

UCL’s APC spend: an analysis

Catherine LSharp22 November 2017

All institutions with block grant funding for open access from the UK Research Councils (RCUK) and the COAF medical charities submit annual reports on their APC spend to those funders. However, since reporting periods vary, and it can be difficult to compare spend across funders, at UCL we find it useful to collate our spend from our RCUK and COAF funds, as well as from our small institutional open access fund, and to draw out comparative data, including our average APC payment by fund, and most (and least) expensive publishers. What follows is an analysis of our APC spend from our three open access budgets for August 2016-July 2017.

During this period, a total of £3.3 million was paid from UCL’s RCUK, COAF and institutional open access funds, for 1,946 APCs. 54% came from RCUK funds, 26% from COAF funds and 20% (including 100 unfunded SpringerCompact papers) from UCL funds. The average (mean) APC, across all budgets, was £1,704 (including VAT). The average APC paid from UCL’s institutional fund was much lower, at £1,363, because the UCL fund is reserved almost exclusively for APCs in fully open access journals. The average APC paid from UCL’s RCUK funds was £1,730; the average from UCL’s COAF funds was £2,167.

Although 99 publishers received APC payments from UCL, more than 70% of the APCs paid were to 10 large publishers. The average APC paid to these “top ten” publishers varies from £594 for Taylor and Francis papers to £2,184 for Elsevier APCs. 63% of payments were made under a prepayment arrangement, the rest by invoice.

The chart below (click to expand) shows all publishers who received more than 10 APC payments from UCL’s funds in 2016-17.

APC graph

This comparison reflects the disparity between APC costs in hybrid and fully open access journals, the relatively high cost of APCs paid to some smaller publishers (Wolters Kluwer, costing £2,903 per APC on average, and Society for Neuroscience at £2,763), and also the large total sums paid to hybrid publishers in addition to subscription charges. When we repeat this analysis next year, and in future, we hope that we’ll see improvements resulting from genuine subscription/APC offsetting deals, of the sort that Springer and Institute of Physics Publishing have pioneered.