Philosophy Publishing and Europe’s New Open Access Requirement

Last week, eleven national funding agencies in Europe, along with the European Commission and the European Research Council, announced the creation of “cOALition S,” which set forth what is being called “Plan S,” an initiative requiring that any academic publications, including books, resulting from research they fund “be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

At the end of this post I ask about the implications of Plan S for academic philosophy, but first let’s get some details on the table.

In a preamble to the plan, the funders state:

Publication paywalls are withholding a substantial amount of research results from a large fraction of the scientific community and from society as a whole. This constitutes an absolute anomaly, which hinders the scientific enterprise in its very foundations and hampers its uptake by society…

We recognise that researchers need to be given a maximum of freedom to choose the proper venue for publishing their results and that in some jurisdictions this freedom may be covered by a legal or constitutional protection. However, our collective duty of care is for the science system as a whole, and researchers must realise that they are doing a gross disservice to the institution of science if they continue to report their outcomes in publications that will be locked behind paywalls. 

We also understand that researchers may be driven to do so by a misdirected reward system which puts emphasis on the wrong indicators (e.g. journal impact factor). We therefore commit to fundamentally revise the incentive and reward system of science, using the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) as a starting point.

The deadline for authors and publishers to comply with Plan S is January 1, 2020 for articles “but it is understood that the timeline to achieve Open Access for monographs and books may be longer.” More European funding agencies are expected to sign on in the coming months.

Plan S does not allow publishers to satisfy its requirements by making research open access months after their initial publication; research must be OA upon publication. And, as Science Magazine reports, the plan “won’t allow publication in so-called hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also make individual papers OA for an extra fee.”

Here are some other elements of the plan:

  • Authors retain copyright of their publication with no 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 fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;
  • 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 ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;
  • The Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance.

What are the implications of Plan S for academic philosophy?

There are a number of questions here. For example: How will Plan S affect where philosophers choose to study and work? How will it affect where they publish? How will it affect the perception of existing journals and existing presses? Will existing “prestige” journals switch to open access? Will we see the creation of more open access philosophy journals? Will we see the creation of reputable open access book publishers? How will Plan S change the funding landscape? How will it affect research and publishing outside of Europe?

Discussion welcome.

(Thanks to Anco Peeters for the suggestion to post about this.)


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