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For release 13:00

5 November 2018

Scientists and Academics Unite in Expressing Concern over Science Europe’s “Plan S”:

Is the Benefit of Increased Open Access Worth the Cost to Academic Freedom?

[Uppsala – 5th November 2018] In September 2018, a

group of European government funding agencies
announced the creation of cOAlition S, an
organization created to implement “Plan S,” an
initiative designed to ensure that “by 2020 scientific
publications that result from research funded by
public grants provided by participating national and
European research councils and funding bodies, “must
be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on
compliant Open Access Platforms.”1

Plan S is built on ten principles, which include:

• A requirement that authors of funded research publications assign all of their copyright
prerogatives (including republication, commercial use, and the creation of derivative
versions) to the general public
• A prohibition on publishing in either subscription or “hybrid” (i.e. partially open access)
journals, thus making more than 80%2 (and for some fields more than 90%3) of journals
off-limits to funded authors, included those published by scholarly societies, which are
very important to many researchers
• A threat of “sanctions” for those authors who fail to comply

Apart from the significant constraints on authors’ freedom of publication created by the explicit
terms of Plan S, it also leaves essential questions unanswered, including:

• Is preprint archiving + Green Open Access compliant with Plan S even for hybrid journals?
If so, under which conditions?
• What are its implications for papers written by multiple authors, not all of whom are
subject to the restrictions of Plan S?
• What will authors do if suitable open access publishing venues are not available in their
disciplines? (Plan S promises that its funders will “provide incentives to establish and

support” such journals where needed, but this is a long-term solution and not one that is
guaranteed of success)
• What are the “sanctions” that will be imposed on noncompliant authors?
• What will the “cap” on Article Processing Charges be and how will it be determined? What
happens in the event that the cap does not provide for adequate funding support for
publication in the author's choice of OA journal?

We note that the 11 original funding agencies who signed on to cOAlition S have been estimated
to account for only roughly 3.3% of global scientific output, and roughly 4.1% of the world Open
Access output.4 However, COAlition S is not satisfied with imposing these rules in the European
Union alone, and is now actively engaged in seeking to spread this approach to other countries
as well, notably the United States.5

The views of researchers who will be directly affected by Plan S do not seem to have been
solicited during its creation, and hundreds of them from around the world, from all ranks ranging
from masters students and ECRS to full professors, department heads, institute directors, and
Nobel laureates, have now signed an open letter expressing their concern about its
ramifications—not only for their own rights as authors and academics, but for the health of
scholarly and scientific discourse worldwide.

That letter is available for public view (and additional signatures) at:


For more information, please contact:

Lynn Kamerlin
+46 70 425 0181

Bas de Bruin
+31 20 525 6495


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