The Wellcome Trust announced its new OA policy this week, a next step since joining cOAlition S, the policy gives us our first sight of an implementation approach in line with Plan S.
Plan S is currently a set of ten principles, prefaced with important remarks, and supported by 13 European research funders known as cOAlition S keen to implement open access (OA) to research publications, both quickly and cost-effectively. The plan sets out a clear direction, but many details of implementation will need to be resolved by the cOAlition S funders, such as how the start of the implementation periods is handled.
The 1 January 2020 is proposed as the official launch date of this new era of open access, but it remains to be seen whether this will apply to research funded, evaluated, or published after that date, and whether funders will align their interpretations in their own policies. The Wellcome Trust is clear that it is research submitted for publication after that date which needs to adhere.
Significant weight is given to the idea of "platforms" within Plan S which are likely to include the existing OA repository network, but we await a decision as to whether these will include services like ResearchGate, or the European Commission’s new “Open Research Europe”.
So what will plan S mean in practice for other organisations and institutions in the UK?
What Plan S means for Jisc
We have been considering the implications and actively engaging in discussions with all stakeholders about Plan S. Our role at Jisc is to support our members through providing services and contributing to policies, to make sure implementation is achievable for them.
Working with our members and sector agencies, we have published our 2019 requirements for transformative open access agreements. These requirements are focused on the ‘hybrid’ model and provide clear unequivocal statements to publishers on what the sector regards as acceptable terms for hybrid journal agreements.
Our focus is on negotiating agreements to meet these requirements, and where these are met, the Wellcome Trust has signalled an agreement will be compliant with their policy when it comes into effect in 2020. Additionally, to enable compliance with future UKRI policy, we will make provision for re-negotiation a part of all agreements. But it is not just about hybrid models and helpfully, leading experts at the Utrecht University have put together a summary of the eight routes they see to implement Plan S. These include the different routes which all of us could take, from librarians, to researchers, to funders, to ensure we bring Plan S to life.
At Jisc, we are working, and intend to work much more, with smaller learned society publishers who might feel that “read and publish” deals are a heavy burden and difficult to implement for publishers with a small number of journals. We will also increase our work with Gold publishers. It is worth remembering, though, that OA, via repositories, is likely to remain an option; it certainly is in the Wellcome Trust policy.
Further policy considerations
The release of the Wellcome Trust policy is a good first step in helping all stakeholders to see what an implementation of Plan S looks like, and as a sector we wait to see how UKRI’s review of its OA policy, which will likely continue into 2019, will play out in terms of implementation.
While these policies and implementation plans are being developed, some voices have raised concerns. A few researchers have already expressed concerns about the implications they see in needing to publish in line with Plan S ideas.
Some publishers have also expressed reservations and, while these are couched in terms of researchers’ interests, they do also point to changes that might impact on publishers’ revenues. In addition, libraries have been feeling uncertain about how Plan S will affect current agreements and those that are under negotiation, in terms of what will be deemed compliant or ‘transformative’.
We will make sure we provide clear information on which agreements are compliant with funders policies, as they are released.
Our services and possible changes ahead
Many of our services are already in a good place to support implementation. For example, with RoMEO and FACT, we have widely used tools documenting existing OA policies and providing decision support. With KB+, we have a record of the deals, including transformative OA deals, with publishers, and which institutions have participated in.
Taking these together, we have the basis for a straightforward tool for members of cOAlition S to provide to their grant-holders, informing them whether and how to align their publishing with OA policies, and their local context.
We might expect to see a transformation in the repository landscape, with greater use of solutions that integrate a range of research outputs including papers, software and data. While EuropePMC and the EBI databases will clearly remain vital in the life sciences, other solutions such as Jisc’s research data shared service, nearing a soft launch later this month, should also help universities realise the benefits of open science and OA.
There is a lot going on in OA and Plan S could be a game-changer. We are keen to talk with our members and other stakeholders, and will stay close to research funders while respecting the independence of the UKRI policy review. At the moment we’re having conversations with some key experts, but intend to broaden that conversation out as soon as we can.
Jisc has been at the forefront of OA for nearly 20 years, and some of us have seen events that looked like tipping points before. However, we are optimistic that this time we really are on the cusp of something transformative in scholarly communication.
For further updates on our work in this area visit the Jisc scholarly communications blog.