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UCL Plan S Town Hall meeting

By Catherine L Sharp, on 10 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.

4 Responses to “UCL Plan S Town Hall meeting”

  • 1
    Prof. Francesco Gervasio wrote on 11 January 2019:

    I strongly believe that plan S goes too far, is unfair for the scientists involved and is too risky for science in general. Plan S has far-reaching consequences, takes insufficient care of the desires and wishes of the individual scientists, creates a range of unworkable and undesirable situations. The complete ban on hybrid (society) journals of high quality (such as Science, Nature, ACS and APS journals) is a big problem, especially for chemistry and will be very detrimental for the career perspectives of young scientists (postdocs) funded by any of these organizations that won’t have the opportunity of publishing on the best journals in the field. Large part of the world (the USA, Germany and Switzerland) already indicated that they will not (fully) tie in with Plan S, creating a uneven playing field especially detrimental to european scientists. The strong focus on Gold OA will increase the dissemination an publishing costs for european scientist. Last and not least the plan S is a serious violation of academic freedom.

  • 2
    Professor Sacha Stern wrote on 17 January 2019:

    I apologize for not being able to attend the Town Hall meeting, although my colleagues who attended have reported back to me, and I have been following for some time the discussions about Plan S.
    Before writing up this comment, I went to the ‘public feedback’ website (through the link provided on this webpage), and I was shocked to discover that the only questions asked are (1) “Is there anything unclear or are there any issues that have not been addressed by the guidance document?” and (2) “Are there other mechanisms or requirements funders should consider to foster full and immediate Open Access of research outputs?”. These questions are restrictive and random, evade the main issues, and assume that Plan S is a fait accompli (as does, in fact, much of the literature around it). Why can’t we be consulted on whether we agree at all with the principles, implementation, etc., of Plan S? This is hardly a public consultation. For the time being, I refuse to collude in this exercise; but I am glad you have given us the opportunity to respond, in a certain way, through this blog.
    Plan S is founded on excellent principles of transparency, equality, etc., and in an ideal world would do much to promote the production and dissemination of knowledge. Its implementation, however, is highly problematic and ultimately boils down to funding: how is all this going to be paid for?
    I agree with Prof. Gervasio’s comments about academic freedom etc. (he is entirely right), and I wish to add further to his comments. Not all research, for a start, is publicly funded. Many authors and researchers are (academically) jobless, either as recent PhD graduates, or as ex-post docs on the hunt for the next job, or even as independent researchers – all of whom can be very eminent in their field. Most non-publicly funded researchers cannot afford APCs for OA. If Plan S is implemented, how will they publish their work in reputable academic journals, which their employment prospects depend on? This is hardly ‘equality’.
    In specialist academic fields like mine (and I am by no means alone or exceptional, as Prof. Gervasio clearly indicates), the leading academic journals are forced, for simple economic reasons, to remain hybrid, because a considerable proportion of their articles are not publicly funded, the authors cannot afford APCs, and the publishers cannot afford to work for free.
    I am aware of the expectation that funders will negotiate deals with publishers to facilitate the implementation of Plan S, through ‘transformative agreements’ etc. It may be possible for large publishers such as Elsevier etc. to negotiate on this sort of level, but the small publishers, many of whom bring out some of the world-leading academic journals, will be left out – funders such as governments will have no time for them.
    In short, the damage Plan S will cause to international research and to its quality, as well as to the future of individual researchers, has not been fairly considered. This plan shows all the signs of being driven by ideology and hastily pushed through (to be implemented in less than a year!) without proper consideration or consultation. I oppose it.

  • 3
    UCL response to Plan S consultation | UCL Open Access wrote on 21 January 2019:

    […] 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 […]

  • 4
    A response from Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at the Wellcome Trust, to UCL’s “Response to Plan S” | UCL Open Access wrote on 30 January 2019:

    […] is pleased to post Robert Kiley’s response to the UCL Town Hall meeting and UCL’s Plan S consultation response as a contribution to the ongoing consultation over Plan […]

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