cOAlition S: The Future of Research

On September 4th of this year, Open Access advocates and scientists around the world woke up to some big news: eleven European national research agencies, the European Commission, and the European Research Council (which represents all the national scientific organizations of European Union member states) announced that they were launching cOAlition S which will require all research funded by these organizations to be fully Open Access by January 1st 2020.

This is a major coup for Open Access activists and a step in the right direction for worldwide scientific research. Not only will cutting-edge and high quality research papers be easy and free for anyone to access, but this will also help to kick-start innovation among open access publications  and encourage more institutions, funders and scientists to be deliberate in choosing an Open Access journals and platforms for their research.

Along with this requirement, the cOAlition S announced ten guiding principles in their Plan S, which I will break down below:

Copyright:

•  Authors retain copyright of their publications without restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfill the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;

Perhaps  one of the most important guiding principles of Open Access, Plan S recognizes that authors should a) retain copyright to their work, b) get credit for the work they do, and c) enable anyone to share, adapt, remix, and build upon their work. You can also read more about CC-BY in this fantastic post by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

Funding and Organization

•  The Funders will ensure jointly the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide
•  In case such high quality Open Access journals or platforms do not yet exist, the Funders will, in a coordinated way, provide incentives to establish and support them when appropriate; support will also be provided for Open Access infrastructures where necessary;
•  The ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;

These three points are absolutely crucial to understanding–the Funders are clearly spelling out their support for establishing platforms, services, journals, and incentives for the publication of scientific research. They are also saying that even if these routes of publication do not yet exist that they will support them. What this means is that we may begin to see increasing academic, financial and intellectual support behind OA platforms, journals and monographs. Finally, they are taking the stance that hybrid models are not compliant with their principals, and that they will support increasing openness. A hybrid model is, for example, when a journal will allow authors to make their article open access–but only for a fee. cOAlition S is taking steps to do away with this hybrid model.

Institutional Support

•  Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by the Funders or universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work •  Open Access even if their institutions have limited means;
When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe);
•  The Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, notably to ensure transparency;
•  The importance of open archives and repositories for hosting research outputs is acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation;

These four bullet points show that the Funders are bringing real heavyweight institutional support to the forefront of the agenda. The first point especially, that the Funders or author universities will cover the cost of publication fees is momentous for researchers. As covered in great detail by Nature and Paywall: The Movie, the fees charged to authors who want to make their articles Open Access can be burdensome. Additionally, the policy of standardizing Open Access fees will help to bring down costs across disciplines in Europe.

It is notable that cOAlition S gives high praise to archives, libraries and repositories. As demonstrated by our own experience at IU, institutional repositories like IU ScholarWorks and IU Scholarworks Open are great ways to distribute Open Access research as they allow access by an international community of learners to research and information.

The Plan S goal is that all journal and other non-book scholarly work should be Open Access by 1 January 2020–and they that they will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. You can read more about cOAlition S, the member organizations, and their plans here.

Plan S is an exciting Open Access breakthrough that promises a more accessible and transparent future for research.

Open Access Week 2018!

During the last week of October, Indiana University joins institutions around the world from countries as diverse as Senegal, Ghana, Austria, Lithuania, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and dozens of US states to host a great variety of events for International Open Access Week. The groups include institutions as varied as university libraries, academic publishers, governmental groups, scientific organizations and even Wikimedia. As previously covered in this blog and elsewhere, Open Access is vitally-important goal that is supported by Indiana University Bloomington. Indeed, as shown by the recent announcement by Science Europe, IUB and its faculty was ahead of the curve in embracing and supporting an Open Access policy for all faculty members.

To review, most Open Access is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review. (source)

Open Access means that knowledge is regarded as a public good and shared resource, and  authors use open access publishing to make the fruits of their research such as scholarly articles, datasets and source code, accessible  to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Adopting such a policy reduces barriers to research and learning by making research available on the public internet to be downloaded and shared freely, making it possible for scholarship to be more widely read and cited than literature that appears in closed-access, licensed journal databases.

Open Access Week supports all of these goals–through a vast panoply of events and initiatives, OA Week seeks to raise awareness around Open Access and to encourage even more participation. No stranger to participation in OA Week, the Scholarly Communications Department, in collaboration with Indiana University Libraries, IU MoneySmarts, the Teaching and Learning Department and others in the Learning Commons are hosting a series of events for students and the public to learn all about Open Access, why you should care about it, and what you can do!

IUB’s Open Access Week events will include learning how to improve your Instagram and presentation game with CC0 images, reflecting on Wikipedia and its data, obtaining Open Access research, discussing course material costs, and learning more about open government information resources. Join us on the following dates –

  • October 22nd from 11am-1pm in Wells Library Learning Commons
  • October 23nd from 11am-1pm in Wells Library Learning Commons and
  • October 25th from 11am-12pm in Wells Library W138

The final highlight of the week from the Scholarly Communications department will be Sarah Hare’s presentation on how to start your own Open Access Journal. From the event page:

Anyone affiliated with Indiana University–students, staff, and faculty–can create an open access journal at no cost! This session will give an overview of the publishing platform, services, and support IU Libraries provides to those interested in starting a journal. The session will also provide information on flipping a closed journal to open access to those interested. Participants should bring any questions they have about journal publishing, open access, or their specific publication to the session.

Please RVSP here.