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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LE
LE
3 years ago

It seems to me the most radical aspect of this is the alleged ban on publishing in hybrid journals.

Is there some obvious reasons why publishers won’t get around this by splitting reputable journals into a closed-access and an open-access one? So eg Philosophical Studies becomes Philosophical Studies A and Philosophical Studies Open.Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
3 years ago

I had something submitted before this rolled out, which wasn’t accepted until accepted after. Then I got an offer of publication, along with a $1500 bill. Not sure if that’s a win or a loss. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have submitted there if I knew, but wasn’t really keen to change courses at that stage.

The other weird feature of that is I had a co-author who actually had the relevant funding, so “we” had to pay the bill, somehow. And it didn’t really seem fair to throw it at him–even though he offered–because I’d ultimately benefit from the open access, too. So we split it, which was fine because I had funding, too–albeit from a source not beholden to this stricture. But it does raise interesting issues about co-authorship, when only *some* of the authors are on the hook.

But, aside from that, I don’t really see a problem with funding bodies giving us money then saying some of that money needs to go to open access. Obviously we’ll just budget that moving forward, so it’s not like it’s “our” money anyway. Given the relative scales of what the publications are as against what the grants are likely to be, it’s also not a super cumbersome line-item (e.g., 1%-3% of total budget, according to the back of my envelope).Report

Michael Kremer
Michael Kremer
Reply to  Jon Light
3 years ago

Jon Light, I don’t know where you’re located, but in the US, apart from a very few extremely unusual grants, there is no funding for philosophers which covers anything but a part of one’s salary for a year’s research leave.

I think this is a massive problem. The Europeans are setting up a system that American philosophers can’t take part in unless they want to use their own salaries to pay the fees.

Further, if journals were to stop charging libraries for access, there is little likelihood that Universities would turn the savings into some sort of fund for scholars to pay publication fees from.

Not to mention the effect on scholars who are not employed by a University.Report

JL
JL
Reply to  Michael Kremer
3 years ago

I’m at an R1 American school. There’s a lot more than “a very few extremely unusual grants” available. And it’s just false that “there is no funding…which covers anything but a part of one’s salary for a year’s research leave.” My grants do all sorts of things, from course releases to summer funding to graduate student support to whatever else; you can line item about anything you feel like on some of these. There is less available in, say, history of philosophy than other more applied grants (e.g., if you’re restricted to NEH), but your post (respectfully) just says a bunch of false things about the funding landscape.Report

Anco
Reply to  Michael Kremer
3 years ago

“Further, if journals were to stop charging libraries for access, there is little likelihood that Universities would turn the savings into some sort of fund for scholars to pay publication fees from.”

Why would American universities not do this? Would they not want their researchers to publish?Report

Lisa Shapiro
Lisa Shapiro
3 years ago

In Canada, several years ago, SSHRC instituted an open access requirement for all articles derived from grant-supported research. It was determined that individuals can satisfy this requirement by depositing their articles in institutional repositories. So university libraries have created databases to contain these articles. The issue is that many journals do not allow for this, so it has been deemed acceptable to post the penultimate MS drafts. The SSHRC support to journals and publications grant stream is now requiring journals to be open access. This has transition costs for some journals, which is currently being negotiated.Report

Philosopher in UK
Philosopher in UK
Reply to  Lisa Shapiro
3 years ago

We have something similar in the UK. I wonder if this work-around (sensible as it is from an individual and a university level) kind of takes the teeth out of the open access requirement, and turns it for the most part into a big bureaucratic waste of time and money? I would bet that not a lot of people are finding and reading articles through the institutional repositories. (Though maybe some people find articles on journal websites and then go to the repository to get a free MS word copy.) Anyway, if this kind of thing is the likely institutional response to OA requirements from funding bodies, it might start to seem like the whole effort from the funding bodies (noble though its motivations are) could end up being just another a costly bureaucratic boondoggle… At least that’s my worry. Though, who knows, maybe the empirical facts show otherwise!Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
3 years ago

“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…”

Society can’t understand or engage with 99% of academic writing. So, I don’t get this concern at all. I don’t see how paywalls are withholding research results from the scientific community, as Universities pay to access journals, or at least 99% of the journals that matter. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but the reasons given strike me as nonsense. I suspect what’s really going on is that they’re working to transfer publication costs to academics. Instead of the Universities being required to pay for journals and books, the academics will be hit with massive publication fees. Beginning of the end folks!Report

Anco
Reply to  Postdoc
3 years ago

“Society can’t understand or engage with 99% of academic writing.”

First, the proposal explicitly includes researchers at universities which cannot afford the hefty subscription fees to academic journals. I imagine that there are many such institutions in poorer countries around the world and likely even in richer countries where different universities receive very different levels of funding. Making, for example, medical and social science research available to such institutions would potentially have a large and immediate positive impact.

Second, I think you overestimate the amount of individuals who cannot understand or engage with academic writing. To take philosophy as an example: many papers, like, say, on ethics and political philosophy, can be read by people who finished secondary school and received some form of tertiary education, even if other papers, like on mathematical logic, are too technical. I would be surprised if the same doesn’t hold for many papers in the humanities.

“I suspect what’s really going on is that they’re working to transfer publication costs to academics.”

Why would those funding bodies want to transfer costs to academics? Can you give any reason for this? Those funding bodies, which by the way in Europe are largely run by academic researchers themselves, want people to publish. It seems more likely to me that the fees that libraries pay for subscriptions now, will be transferred to funds to allow researchers to publish accepted papers. Or that research proposal will have to include a proposed budget for publications.

“Beginning of the end folks!”

Sure, because every change heralds the apocalypse. It makes me wonder if you’re paid by a publishing agency.Report

Addrellim
Addrellim
Reply to  Anco
3 years ago

I find it odd to read defences of Plan S on behalf of researchers at poor universities, because one thing the proposal clearly does is to impose on those universities a large new cost: “the OA article processing charges (APC) are to be capped, and paid by funders and universities instead of scientists from their research budgets” (https://forbetterscience.com/2018/09/11/response-to-plan-s-from-academic-researchers-unethical-too-risky/).

Right now a philosopher at a poor institution can get their work published for free. Under this proposal, as far as I can tell, they’d need to scare up some funding in order for that to happen.Report

Leorence
Leorence
3 years ago

In the olden days, many of a journal’s subscriptions were to individuals: professors and graduate students who decided that it was important to them to read what was published in that journal. These decisions reflected their knowledge of the discipline. These people in the discipline drove the market directly, through their subscription decisions.

In more recent years the number of individual subscribers has plunged, probably due to the ease with which anyone affiliated with a university can read almost any article published in any journal, instantly. (In this light I too find the worry about access almost comically overblown.)

But the disciplinarians still drive the market, through their clickings and downloadings. Indirectly though, because there is a new intermediary, the librarians, who look at this usage data to help them decide what to pay for.

Now, whose decisions drive the market under an entirely OA system? Neither individuals nor libraries will pay for subscriptions; all content will be freely available without a subscription. Instead it is the researchers who will pay, with their OA fees. But who gives them the money to do that? The funding bodies.

In this light it is noteworthy that it is apparently funding bodies pressing this proposal (and not, say, learned societies). The worry, vivid to anyone with experience of bureaucracies, is that the OA scheme effectively makes the funding bodies the market drivers: the ones whose decisions determine which journals thrive and which wither. Whether this will be the result depends a lot on details of implementation. E.g. the funding bodies might decide, as part of their campaign against prestige differences among journals, to “count” (in future applications to them) all journal publications the same. This will create a race to the bottom, with new journals arising basically to harvest the OA fees.

The proposal is long on high-minded rhetoric and very troublingly short on consideration of what the results would be if it were implemented.Report

LE
LE
Reply to  Leorence
3 years ago

> In more recent years the number of individual subscribers has plunged, probably due to the ease with which anyone affiliated with a university can read almost any article published in any journal, instantly. (In this light I too find the worry about access almost comically overblown.)

I can’t help but think this is a bit myopic. Even setting aside those not affiliated with universities, it ignores the huge number of very poor universities that can’t afford to subscribe to many well-known journals.Report

Anco
Reply to  Leorence
3 years ago

“The worry, vivid to anyone with experience of bureaucracies, is that the OA scheme effectively makes the funding bodies the market drivers: the ones whose decisions determine which journals thrive and which wither.”

While the (governmental) funding bodies manage the funds, it is the scientists that they enlist to judge research proposals who decide which proposals receive funding. Furthermore, applications are not forced to publish in a specific journal: the only requirement is that their research is published in an open access one.Report