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Thoughts on Plan S

TitleThoughts on Plan S
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSuber, P.
PublisherGoogle +
Date Published09/2018
Type of WorkGoogle doc.
KeywordscOAlition S, gold and green OA, OA policy, open licenses, Plan S

Overview. The plan is admirably strong. It aims to cover all European research, in the sciences and in the humanities, at the EU level and the member-state level. It's a plan for a mandate, not just an exhortation or encouragement. It keeps copyright in the hands of authors. It requires open licenses and prefers CC-BY. It abolishes or phases out embargoes. It does not support hybrid journals except as stepping stones to full-OA journals. It's willing to pay APCs but wants to cap them, and wants funders and universities to pay them, not authors. It will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. It's already backed by a dozen powerful, national funding agencies and calls for other funders and other stakeholders to join the coalition.

There are two main weaknesses or aspects to watch closely. First, on one reading, the plan welcomes both gold and green OA, which is good. Its key principle requires distribution through "compliant Open Access Journals...or compliant Open Access Platforms." But a section elucidating this principle damns green OA with faint praise, endorsing OA repositories only for preservation, not for OA itself, repeating the mistake of the Finch Group in 2012. It's not at all clear how far the coalition will let green OA satisfy the upcoming policies.

Second, the plan promises support for OA infrastructure, which is good. But it never commits to open infrastructure, that is, platforms running on open-source software, under open standards, with open APIs for interoperability, preferably owned or hosted by non-profit organizations. This omission invites the fate that befell bepress and SSRN, but this time for all European research.

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