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Editorial Snapshot: Countdown to Plan S

– G.A., Senior Editor

Although we have only just entered 2019, scientists throughout Europe and publishers of academic journals around the world are already thinking ahead to January 1, 2020. A coalition of research funders in Europe has set that date as the start of an initiative that will place strict limitations on where the research they fund can be published.

The coalition’s initiative, referred to as Plan S, will require the output of research funded by public grants to be published in fully open access journals or platforms. In contrast to previous initiatives that have required scientists to publish with open access, Plan S takes an aggressive approach by requiring publication in journals that are strictly open access. This proposal threatens so-called hybrid journals that are run according to a traditional subscription-based model, but provide open access when requested by submitting authors.

Even proponents of open access realize the difficulty of complying with Plan S in the current publishing environment. In fact, as written, Plan S would prevent researchers from publishing in an estimated 85% of all journals.

So far, 11 European funding agencies have committed to Plan S, and it remains to be seen whether this number will grow during the remainder of this year. Regardless of how widely Plan S is adopted, or enforced, the strong position taken by the funding agencies that have committed to the plan suggest that open access will continue to be a major factor that funding agencies consider.

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