Open Access Plans — S, T, U, so far | SciELO in Perspective

In a few earlier posts1,2, I have mentioned, and commented on, Plan S. In September of 2018, immediately after Plan S was presented, Tim Vines published a post on The Scholarly Kitchen3 in which he argues that Plan S, based on funding open access with Article processing Fees (APCs) should be scrapped and instead, OA should be financed by submission fees. He called his idea Plan T (I guess because T follows S in the alphabet). It is an old idea, but a valid one. I have for a long time been in favor of submission charges. After all, getting a paper reviewed and accepted in a journal is like doing an exam, to get a driver’s licence, for instance. One has to pay for such an exam, whether or not one passes or fails. Tim Vines uses the example of a dental check up in his post. You don’t just pay if the dentist finds a cavity to fill or a tooth to extract….

The same day that Tim Vines’ post was published, Richard Sever (of Cold Spring Harbor Publishers and bioRxiv) reacted by firing off a tweet which said: “Plan U: just mandate preprint deposition and let a downstream ecosystem of overlays/journals with various business models evolve in response to community needs. Side benefit: speeding up science massively…”4

Now we’re talking. This is entirely in line with what I proposed in 2015 [in a blog post]5. At first, Plan U appeared on a web site,, which was anonymous, undated, and doesn’t exist anymore. However, on June 4th, 2019, a formal article entitled “Plan U: Universal access to scientific and medical research via funder preprint mandates”6 appeared in the journal PLOS Biology. There is no reason whatsoever why this Plan U should not take off, although it may initially go slowly, given the usual inertia in the scientific community at large.

Plan U offers science communication everything it needs. Rapid sharing of research results via preprints, without the sometimes high cost of APCs; options of obtaining peer review and formal journal publication afterwards. And the latter, which can be expensive, only if and when necessary for funding or career development. It even may make the differences between open access and subscription journals fairly irrelevant for the dissemination of research results, as an open access version of every article will in any way be guaranteed via the preprint….”

Plan U: funders urged to mandate immediate preprint publication | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Forget Plan S, what about “Plan U”? Scientists have argued that research funders should go one step further than Europe’s open access initiative by mandating that all papers that they finance should be made immediately available on preprint servers.

Writing in Plos Biology on 4 June, three open access advocates say that funders’ move to require research that they support to be made freely available at the point of publication goes only so far towards opening up scientific exchange when journal review and editing processes take so long.

Richard Sever and John Inglis, co-founders of the preprint server BioRxiv, and Mike Eisen, editor in chief of open access publishing platform eLife, make the case for Plan U – for “universal” – under which funders would require academics to post their work on preprint servers first, before peer review….

“Funders could literally mandate this tomorrow,” Dr Sever added, “unlike the alternative solutions proposed, which all require significant structural changes likely to take years.” Plan U could be implemented alongside Plan S, he said….”

Reply to Kiley and Smits: Meeting Plan S’s goal of maximizing access to research | PNAS

“Thank you for recognizing the value that scholarly societies bring to the research ecosystem and the scientific enterprise as a whole—and for recognizing the importance of their financial viability (1).

And thank you for clearly stating your goal for Plan S (2). A much simpler route toward achieving your goal of maximizing access to research and allowing for artificial intelligence and text and data mining is Plan U, in which funders require that grantees deposit manuscripts on a preprint server under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) before submission and peer review in a journal.* Plan U avoids the tremendous overhead and infrastructure needed to implement, monitor, and enforce Plan S—which entails vetting thousands of individual journals, various journal platforms, and repositories—and eliminates the need to further refine Plan S implementation guidelines, which have to date raised more questions than they answer.

Plan U would establish a far more uniform policy across a much larger group of researchers, while avoiding the need to cap article processing charges or ban hybrid journals. Such a policy is not only more inclusive, but more likely to achieve global buy-in….”

After Plan S, Here’s Plan U: Funders Should Require All Research To Be Posted First As A Preprint | Techdirt

Now people are starting to think about ways to put preprints at the heart of academic publishing and research. In the wake of the EU’s “Plan S” to make more research available as open access, there is now a proposal for “Plan U” …