Plan S & Scholarly Publishing Future: Challenges & Opportunities

“With ambitious promises to reshape scholarly publishing, Plan S supported by cOAlition S affects authors, publishers, libraries and all stakeholders in between.

Where are we now?

What Plan S challenges have been addressed?

What new obstacles have materialised?

This webinar aims to take stock of the journey made since the launch of Plan S, focusing on the evolution of Publishers, Open Access (OA) business models and the challenges and opportunities that remain open. Join a balanced panel of experts including publishers, researchers and cOAlition S policy makers to discuss Plan S implications moving forward. The webinar will be followed by a live Q&A session.”

Momentum Builds: OA Agreement Task & Finish Groups – information power

“Over the past few months, the team at Information Power has been hard at work with our latest project. On behalf of cOAlition S and ALPSP, we have created four Task & Finish Groups and are planning two public events in order to help facilitate Open Access Agreements between Libraries/Consortia and small, independent publishers that can be used universally.

During September and October, we advertised our working groups and over 100 people signed up! This was an excellent result and was really heartening to see so many people that wanted to volunteer their valuable time and expertise to help an important project that could really benefit many people all over the world.

The first Task & Finish Group started in late September and is centred around devising a set of shared principles to underpin Open Access arrangements involving small publishers. The group has met three times so far and each meeting has been immensely successful, with lots of spirited debate and a new draft set of principles….”

Journal Checker Tool update: we listen and learn from you | Plan S

“We value feedback from researchers, institutions, funders, and publishers and based on it we always seek to improve the Journal Checker Tool (JCT) to ensure that all users get access to clear advice for Plan S compliance. The latest changes (dated 13th October 2021) include visual modifications, language simplification in the description of results and a new feature to share the results….”

Open Access Publishing under Plan S: When Good Intentions Remain Eurocentric

“cOAlition S has not yet openly and thoroughly discussed how Plan S fits in the current unequal knowledge production system and what its implications will be for existing inequalities among researchers from different nations, economic classes, career stages, or other determinants that currently affect access to funding and publishing opportunities….

the potential of implementing its principles relies largely on the availability of research funding and regional funders’ willingness and ability to cover OA publishing costs….

A second major issue is economic inequalities across countries, which largely pre-determine the ability of researchers to publish in high-impact, rigorous journals, their access to funding opportunities and the capacity of their academic institutions to cover OA publishing costs…. ”

Observing the success so far of the Rights Retention Strategy | Plan S

“As someone who is independent of cOAlition S, I have been monitoring with great interest the application of the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS).

Using Google Scholar and Paperpile, I have documented over 500 works published across hundreds of different outlets using the Rights Retention Strategy language in the acknowledgements section of the work. Authors are using it to retain their rights in preprints, journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, and even posters – this makes perfect sense; the RRS language is simple and easy to add to research outputs. It’s not a burden to acknowledge one’s research funding and to add the statement: “For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission“, and so authors are doing this….

I am also pleased to observe that ALL the major publishers appear to be happily publishing works containing the RRS language, including Elsevier, ACS, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, IEEE, and Springer Nature (inc. Nature Publication Group). So, authors need not fear practising rights retention.

I note that the RRS is a tool that can be and is used across all disciplines – it works equally well for STEM and HSS. Indeed one of my favourite examples of RRS-in-action is a Wellcome Trust funded output by Dr Barbara Zipser from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Thanks to the RRS language Dr Zipser included in her submission, there is a full-text accepted author manuscript version of her work available at EuropePMC for all to read, whilst separately the journal-published version is available from the publisher website behind a 25 euro paywall. The author accepted manuscript has undergone peer review and has been accepted by the publisher (it is not a rough preprint, from before peer review). I do not need to read a version that has publisher branding & logos. When researchers choose the “green” route to open access, people need not feel sorry for the journal publisher – individual and institutional subscribers pay handsomely to support the journal. Thus, green open access is never “unfunded“, as some publishers have tried to claim….

As a keen Wikimedian, I am delighted with another aspect of the RRS. Prior to the RRS, green OA copies of articles weren’t much used on Wikimedia Commons owing to incompatible licensing. But now, with the RRS, suddenly, RRS-using green OA copies become easier to adapt for re-use on other websites. As Wikipedia is one of the top 15 most visited websites globally, I think it is very important that academic research is not prevented from being used there by overly restrictive licensing conditions. To celebrate this openness, I have added a few figure images sourced from cOAlition S funded, CC BY licensed, author accepted manuscripts using RRS to Wikimedia Commons. These images can be re-used within suitable Wikipedia articles across all languages, helping the transmission of research information beyond the constraints of academic journals and language barriers….”

Electronic resource management in a post-Plan S world

Abstract:  cOAlition S and research funding policies mean open access content is no longer a ‘trend’ but rather another consideration of content management for librarians and libraries. In 2018, the authors of this article launched a new version of TERMS (Techniques for Electronic Resources Management). TERMS 2.0 envisages a post-Plan S e-resources life cycle blending e-resources and open access content management. This article outlines how open content management can dovetail into current e-resource management tactics across six TERMS: Investigation of material, procurement and licensing of content, implementation, troubleshooting of problems, evaluation and preservation, and sustainability concerns. Lastly, we reflect on the themes growing in libraries in regard to management of online resources.


We encourage you to share your article widely – but not too much | Plan S

“Has anyone else noticed the conflict of advice that exists in the Springer Nature (SN) SharedIt initiative? On the face of it, it appears a good thing – actively encouraging authors to share their research – until you get into the weeds of what is permitted and required. [Added emphasis in quotations are all mine]

SN states that it 

“wants researchers to share content easily”

and that it wishes 

“to enable researchers to share articles of interest with collaborators and colleagues. We also wish to enable authors to share their research articles widely” 

and proudly trumpets that using its SharedIt initiative 

“links to view-only, full-text subscription research articles can be posted anywhere – including on social media platforms, author websites and in institutional repositories – so researchers can share research with colleagues and general audiences.” 

For now, let’s skate over the fact that this initiative is ‘read only’. As a SN author at this point, you might think – great. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Those pesky Terms & Conditions

You have been sent the SharedIt link to your article and are excited because you’re told that you:

“Can post shareable links to view-only versions of [your] peer-reviewed research paper anywhere, including via social channels, institutional repositories and authors’ own websites as well as scholarly collaborative networks.”

It says ‘anywhere.’ Excellent. Then you read the SharedIt Terms & Conditions (Ts & Cs). 

“We support a reasonable amount of sharing of content by authors, subscribers and authorised users (“Users”), for small-scale personal, non-commercial use provided that you maintain all copyright and other proprietary notices.

This is quite a difference: only a “reasonable amount of sharing” is supported. That is a long way from “anywhere”. It certainly doesn’t sound like the “wish to enable authors to share their research articles widely” SN started out with. ‘Small-scale’ is even more limiting. I would have expected researchers might want ‘mega-scale’, worldwide interest in and access to their hard-won work….”

Elsevier Negotiation at Oxford

“UK universities have a five year ‘big deal’ with Elsevier which runs to the end of December 2021. This deal gives Oxford staff and students access to more than 1,800 journals. Throughout this year, we are working in partnership with Jisc and with other UK universities to reach an agreement for the next five-year ScienceDirect (Elsevier) deal, commencing in January 2022.

This is an important negotiation since it seeks to combine subscription costs and open access publishing costs in line with Plan S funder requirements and the Jisc requirements for transitional open access agreements. UK universities spend more than £50m annually with Elsevier, yet it is the last major publisher to strike a transformative deal which combines access and publishing spend whilst constraining costs.

The Bodleian Libraries are working with the Open Access Steering Group and Research and Innovation Committee. It is important that decisions are made based on evidence, and data about usage and publishing levels in Elsevier journals will help to inform our approach. Additionally, we will take a consultative approach in partnership with academic divisions. This page will be regularly updated as negotiations proceed throughout this year, including details of any information events that are planned.”

Our Commitment to Price Transparency – The Official PLOS Blog

“PLOS is committed to transparency in all its forms—from our Open Science practices that we urge our authors to adopt, to providing our community clear insight into our journals and activities. Last year, Plan S provided a pilot opportunity for the latter through their Price & Service Transparency Framework which becomes a requirement for Plan S compliance in July 2022. We have committed to participate in and share our reporting from that framework each year and we are once again sharing our price transparency data in the spreadsheet and chart below. Read on for more details of how the framework has changed and what that means for PLOS. …”

Researchers and publishers respond to new UK open-access policy – Physics World

“The largest funding body in the UK has announced a new open-access policy that will come into effect on 1 April 2022. UK Research and Inno­vation (UKRI) – the umbrella group for the UK’s seven research coun­cils – will from that date mandate that all published papers written by researchers containing work carried out using UKRI cash must be free to read immediately upon publication. Yet the announcement has been met with concern by some publishers and researchers….”


Accelerating open access to academic books | Plan S

Accelerating open access to academic books



cOAlition S has just issued its statement on Open Access (OA) for academic books. With this statement, cOAlitition S sets a clear direction for academic books to become OA. It recommends that “All academic books based on original research that was directly supported with funding from cOAlition S organisations should be made available open access on publication”. This is great news!

The OA Books Network (OABN), steered by OAPEN, SPARC Europe, OPERAS, and ScholarLed) salutes this clear support from cOAlition S for OA to books. While OA policies for journal articles have been developing rapidly for years, progress on the OA book side has been rather slow. However, this cOAlition S statement combined with the recently launched UKRI open access policy indicates that there is great potential for things to accelerate for OA books, too.

cOAlition S statement on Open Access for academic books | Plan S

Academic books – defined here to include monographs, book chapters, edited collections, critical editions, and other long-form works – are an important mode of publication for scholars, especially in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Several studies have pointed out the benefits of Open Access (OA) book publishing. In 2019, Science Europe published five principles for OA to academic books and recommendations for six types of research stakeholders.  Springer Nature has recently shown that OA books receive 2.4 times more citations and are downloaded 10 times more than non-OA books.

Principle 7 of Plan S acknowledged that the timeline to achieve Open Access for books requires a separate and due process. The Implementation Guidance specified that “by the end of 2021, a statement on Plan S principles would be issued as they apply to monographs and book chapters, together with related implementation guidance”.

Since the Plan S principles for research articles were published, many cOAlition S funders have developed their own OA policies around academic books. (For an overview of cOAlition S funders with an existing OA books policy, see Annex A).  On critical elements, like embargoes and licences, policies of cOAlition S organisations have already converged. Most cOAlition S funders have adopted or advise CC licences, and embargoes range between 0 and 12 months.

cOAlition S recognizes that academic book publishing is very different from journal publishing. Our commitment is to make progress towards full open access for academic books as soon as possible, in the understanding that standards and funding models may need more time to develop. Rather than to decree a uniform policy on OA books, we have therefore decided to formulate a set of recommendations regarding academic books – in line with Plan S principles – that all cOAlition S organisations will seek to adopt within their own remits and jurisdictions.

The Subscriptionization of Everything | Clarke & Esposito

“But all that to the side [current progress toward OA], would an individual researcher pay $15 a month for access to all of Elsevier’s scholarly content? Could such a model sit alongside, or bypass entirely, the institutional site license business that has reached a point of maturity? …

While UKRI may not have made up its mind yet about supporting Transformative Journals, the program continues to advance – though some of the reporting requirements for publishers are more onerous than publishers anticipated. David wrote a piece last month for The Scholarly Kitchen about the challenges that (especially smaller, independent) publishers are having with the requirements for compliance. As described in the post, cOAlition S requires journals qualifying for “Transformative” status to provide a set of data reports that can be expensive and time consuming to develop.  

The rationale for the data requirements is also puzzling. The stated purpose is that they will “help determine whether open-access content has broader reach than subscription content.” The data being collected, however, will not provide that help – as so often (and frustratingly) seems to be the case when it comes to open access studies, experimental design and adequate controls are not put in place. Good experimental design eliminates or controls for confounding factors. In this case there are a lot of differences between the articles being compared beyond just their OA status. (For example, in hybrid journals, OA often comes at a significant cost which only well-funded labs can afford, so perhaps the difference in performance between the articles can be attributed to the authors’ funding levels, rather than the articles’ OA status.) These confounders can be controlled for, and if cOAlition S wants to better understand the actual impacts it is having (including on market consolidation), then it should sponsor carefully designed studies, rather than requiring the expensive and time-consuming collection of data that will likely prove inconclusive.
Meanwhile, the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) continues to be a point of contention. As Shawn Khoo recently wrote, the RRS is not quite the “magic text” some believe it to be, and researchers need to take care not to sign conflicting contractual agreements, lest they put themselves in legal jeopardy.
Complicating the picture with regard to the RRS is the fact that publishers, understandably, do not view the scheme as a take-it-or-leave-it policy decision but rather (as we have discussed before in The Brief) an author request to be accepted or rejected on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, a publisher may accept a paper (for publication in a hybrid journal) with RRS language but only on condition of payment of an APC – which cannot be paid from cOAlition S funds but can be paid from other funding sources (in this sense, the RRS is a Plan S policy that has the result of shifting publication costs to other funding sources). In other cases, the publisher may decide to waive such an APC. In still other cases, the publisher may decide to suggest transferring the paper to a fully OA title. And of course the publisher might reject the paper entirely (and that rejection might or might not be based on inclusion of the RRS language – and if it is, the publisher might or might not state that in the rejection letter). In this regard, the RRS is similar to a (well-funded) author requesting an OA APC waiver for publication in a hybrid journal. Authors are free to ask for lots of things – waive all charges on my article, put my picture on the cover, promote my article to journalists so that I can impress my friends and family when it is covered on the evening news – but it is also within the rights of the publishing journal to decline those requests on a case-by-case basis….”