Transformative Journals: analysis of Year 1 (2021) | Plan S

“The Transformative Journal (TJ) model is one of the strategies cOAlition S endorses to help subscription publishers transition to full and immediate Open Access (OA). To be awarded TJ status, a title must publicly commit to transitioning to fully Open Access, and agree to: 

work to increase the share of Open Access content, year on year, in line with publicly agreed targets; and 
offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments). 

As of June 2022, some 16 publishers – large and small, for-profit, not-for-profit, society publishers and university presses – totalling some 2304 journals, have enrolled in this programme. Figure 1, shows the breakdown of TJs by publisher….

This blog post provides a summary of the first full year of the TJ programme, using data supplied by all participating publishers….”

Transformative? | Clarke & Esposito

“cOAlition S has released a report analyzing the first year of the Transformative Journal (TJ) program. As a reminder, TJs (not to be confused with TAs, or Transformative Agreements) are individual hybrid journals that have agreed to (try to) show an “annual increase in the proportion of open access (OA) research content of at least 5% points in absolute terms, and at least 15% in relative terms, year-on-year.” The journal must also publicly agree to flip to OA when 75% of its research content is published OA. These promises allow the hybrid journal to be considered compliant with Plan S and eligible for article processing charge (APC) funds.

The report shows that more than half (56%) of the 2,304 journals in the program did not meet their first-year OA targets. The coalition has extended its requirements another year, keeping all TJs in the program (although they must meet year 2 targets calculated as if the journal had met its year 1 numbers). 
Removing 56% of the journals would result in 1,290 fewer publication venues for Plan S-funded researchers, which is perhaps part of the reason for the extension. 

Notably, many of the TJs have failed to meet another cOAlition S requirement: a public statement showing how the presence of OA articles has reduced the subscription price of the journal. Elsevier and Springer Nature (182 and 1,714 TJs, respectively) instead have offered “a more generic, anti-double dipping statement,” which apparently has been accepted for 2021, but will not fly for 2022. This raises the question of how a publisher would practically be able to show such a metric. …”


It is not transformation if nothing changes – Science & research news | Frontiers

“The substantial benefits of open access (OA) publishing are within our reach, but legacy publishers are employing commercial tactics to delay the necessary transition.

This paper exposes several of the negative, often unintended, consequences of “transformative agreements” (TAs).  It argues that these agreements, sold as a pathway to open science, in fact reinforce the status quo.  TAs maintain paywalled access as the standard financial model in publishing.  They are negotiated in the absence of basic competition and procurement rules.  And by concentrating resources into silos for a few incumbents only, they pose a threat to the diversity of the publishing ecosystem, locking out innovators, including the very players who demonstrate the benefits of OA publishing.  Deployed as a commercial tactic, these agreements will stall the establishment of a transparent and competitive marketplace for professional editorial services….:”

An open letter on open access: call for greater clarity and transparency of open access terms and conditions – The Publication Plan for everyone interested in medical writing, the development of medical publications, and publication planning

“On 1 March 2022, cOAlition S wrote to publishers as part of the Plan S initiative to drive open access publishing. Acknowledging recent progress made by publishers to increase open access to scientific publications, cOAlition S urged publishers to take further steps by making details of their open access policies and contracts more obvious for authors. The letter signed by Professor Johan Rooryck, Executive Director of cOAlition S, calls on journals to make the following information plainly available for authors at the point of submission:

the copyright licence that authors would need to sign before their manuscript’s publication
all costs associated with publishing the manuscript
whether the journal will re-direct the manuscript to another journal based on reasons other than editorial rejection.

While details on these policies can often be found on a journal’s own web site or via the publisher’s web site, cOAlition S states that it would be helpful for authors if this information were displayed:

prominently on the journal’s web site
as a part of the ‘Information for Authors’ section
at the start of the journal’s submission process….”

Transformative Journals: analysis of Year 1 (2021) | Plan S

The Transformative Journal (TJ) model is one of the strategies cOAlition S endorses to help subscription publishers transition to full and immediate Open Access (OA). To be awarded TJ status, a title must publicly commit to transitioning to fully Open Access, and agree to:  work to increase the share of Open Access content, year on year, in line with publicly agreed targets; and  offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments).  As of June 2022, some 16 publishers – large and small, for-profit, not-for-profit, society publishers and university presses – totalling some 2304 journals, have enrolled in this programme. Figure 1, shows the breakdown of TJs by publisher.

[Review of] Plan S for Shock

“Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells’s book Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. (Ubiquity Press, 2022) tells the story of open access publishing – why it matters now, and for the future. In a world where information has never been so accessible, and answers are available at the touch of a fingertip, we are hungrier for the facts than ever before – something the Covid-19 crisis has brought to light. And yet, paywalls put in place by multi-billion dollar publishing houses are still preventing millions from accessing quality, scientific knowledge – and public trust in science is under threat. On 4 September 2018, a bold new initiative known as ‘Plan S’ was unveiled, kickstarting a world-wide shift in attitudes towards open access research. For the first time, funding agencies across continents joined forces to impose new rules on the publication of research, with the aim of one day making all research free and available to all. What followed was a debate of global proportions, as stakeholders asked: Who has the right to access publicly-funded research? Will it ever be possible to enforce change on a multi-billion dollar market dominated by five major players? Here, the scheme’s founder, Robert-Jan Smits, makes a compelling case for Open Access, and reveals for the first time how he set about turning his controversial plan into reality – as well as some of the challenges faced along the way. In telling his story, Smits argues that the Covid-19 crisis has exposed the traditional academic publishing system as unsustainable.”

Full article: Platelets and open access – a new era dawns

“For these reasons, we can now confirm that the decision has been made to transform Platelets into a fully open access journal. This will be implemented during a period of transition over the rest of 2022, with the switch completed by the beginning of 2023. It will mean that, going forward, all articles accepted for publication in Platelets will attract an Article Processing Charge (APC) and will be fully and freely accessible to all readers. We are pleased that the proposed APC is lower than it has been previously for our journal and is overall a rate competitive with journals of similar scope and stature….”

Free science: The importance of open access research – The Boar

“In 2018, a group of research funders decided that it was time to change the system. They declared that any research they funded must be made open access as soon as it was published. In 2021, this pledge – known as Plan S – started to be implemented. Funders ranging from the European Commission to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now require their funded research to be free to read. Over 10% of research in the world’s most reputable journals is thought to be funded by institutions that have signed up to Plan S, representing a vast number of articles that must be made open access.

So far, though, the success of Plan S has been limited. Many agencies, including some of the most influential in the US and China, are reluctant to sign up to the pledge. Journals often generate revenue for open access articles by increasing per-paper author fees, which means scientists and institutions that can’t afford the fees can’t publish their work – these fees can range anywhere from $500 to $5000. Academic culture rewards researchers for publishing in the most reputable journals, and some feel that open access journals are less prestigious and lower quality.

If Plan S isn’t working right now, then what can be done to improve open access research? Scientists are increasingly using tools to help circumvent the extortionate paywalls of journals. Academics often publish ‘preprints’ – these are draft publications of their work that anyone is free to access. There are also pirate websites, known as ‘shadow libraries’, where academic papers can be accessed for free, but this is largely without the consent of the original authors.

Over time, perhaps the academic culture will shift to one where researchers are judged only on what they publish, and not where they publish. For now, though, the debate on open access continues.”

Swiss National Science Foundation joins cOAlition S | Plan S

cOAlition S is excited to welcome on board the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) – one of the European leaders supporting Open Access – as the latest organisation to join the international consortium of research funding and performing organisations committed to delivering full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications.

Plan S Journal Comparison Service: open for publishers to register and deposit price and service data | Plan S

cOAlition S is excited to release today the Journal Comparison Service (JCS), a secure, free and long-anticipated digital service, that aims to shed light on publishing fees and services.

Starting from today, publishers can register with the JCS publisher portal. After signing a service agreement, publishers can share information, at journal level, highlighting the services they provide and the prices they charge in line with one of the Plan S approved price and service transparency frameworks. These data are then made available to librarians via a secure online system.  Examples of data that will be made available through the service include information about the publication frequency, the peer review process, times from submission to acceptance, the range of list prices for APCs, subscription prices, and how the price is allocated over a defined set of services.


Open Access Monographs: Making Mandates Reality Tickets, Thu 23 Jun 2022 at 14:00 | Eventbrite

“This half-day webinar galvanises a much-needed sector-wide conversation on OA monographs in the context of the UK’s policy landscape. Expert panels of speakers from the library, publishing and policy worlds will outline the current state-of-play and discuss how we can move to meet the imminent OA mandates from cOAlition S/Plan S in Europe and UKRI in the UK, and potential implications of the REF.

Featuring expert speakers from UKRI (Rachel Bruce) and Jisc (Caren Milloy), the event will open with a discussion of monograph policies and mandates before moving to an academic viewpoint from Professor Martin Eve (Birkbeck, University of London) who will talk about various international OA funding models and the need to move quickly from pilot phases to business as usual.

The second half of the session will highlight the challenges of getting OA metadata into supply chains and systems often designed for closed books, and will discuss the concomitant challenges posed by metrics and reporting on OA books (speakers TBC). The afternoon will close with a view from the library perspective and expert speakers from the libraries at the Universities of York (Sarah Thompson), Aberdeen (Simon Bains) and Imperial College (Chris Banks). There will be time for Q&A after each set of speakers….”

ACS Publications commits its entire hybrid journal portfolio to become Plan S-aligned Transformative Journals | Plan S

“cOAlition S is pleased to announce that the American Chemical Society (ACS) has committed its full portfolio of more than 60 hybrid journals to become Plan S-aligned Transformative Journals.

ACS publishes 12 completely open access journals, which are already compliant with Plan S requirements. The commitment for the rest of its portfolio to become Transformative Journals will allow authors even greater flexibility in their choice of publication outlet….”

Open Access Books: do we need a Plan S moment? – Digital Science

To judge from the progress of Open Access (OA) journal articles, you could be mistaken for thinking OA was the new paradigm for all research: a swift look at the charts below tells you everything you need to know.

According to Unpaywall and Dimensions, one by one the disciplines have tipped from majority-closed to majority-open. Life Sciences was the first to tip in 2013; Medical and Health Sciences followed in 2016; then the Social Sciences and Physical and Mathematical Sciences in 2017. The Humanities joined the majority open in 2020; and Engineering and Technology were at parity in 2021.

So what of books? While we can say with confidence that rates of OA publishing for both monographs and collected works have doubled over the last 10 years, the proportion of OA books remains very low, barely troubling the dominance of the traditional pay model. It’s possible to see a small increase in the last two years – which could be a consequence of more publishers making books ‘freely available’ during COVID (but, lacking a CC- licence not matching the formal status of being ‘Open Access’). Whether or not this trend continues, in a post-pandemic world, is a question that we’ll need to return to in 2024…