February 5, 2019

Adopting Plan S as an individual researcher

After the launch of Plan S by cOAlition S on September 4th 2018, numerous position papers (including from YERUN) have been published to support, comment or recommend how it should evolve and how should be implemented. But what does it mean for an individual researcher to support and adopt Plan S? Our colleague Anxo Sánchez, researcher from UC3M, presents his views below.

“Since Plan S was announced last September, I have been ruminating about whether it should be something for funding agencies only, or on the contrary it should involve individual researchers too, so bottom-up working together with top down. As you probably know, Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. So far, 13 national funders, along with other organizations have joined cOAlition S, and I do hope, along with many of my colleagues, that the Spanish Agencia Estatal de Investigación joins shortly.

I have been complaining openly all too often about how crazy, unfair, unscientific and eventually damaging for all researchers is the whole publication system, beginning with the infamous “publish or perish” principle. That’s why some years ago I signed up the DORA declaration and have been (admittedly, half-heartedly) to live up to its idea of stop using journal metrics to evaluate research or researchers. Neither DORA nor Plan S are perfect and they probably open as many questions as issues they solve. How are we going to evaluate researchers, grants, etcetera, particularly when there are hundreds of applicants for a position or for a call? How are all these decisions impacting on early stage researchers, that can suffer from the decisions of their supervisors to abide by this policy? These are not easy points to solve, but my reflections on all this have finally led me to conclude that, be as it may, staying on the rat race, supporting all this deranged publication system and the giant companies making money out of public funds for research, is not going to fix anything and does not help. This has to go away, and we’ll figure out how to deal with the resulting challenges as we go along.

Little steps may eventually take us a long way. This is why I have decided to adopt Plan S as an individual researcher. This means that irrespective of who funds my research, the projects I start from 2020 on will follow all 10 Plan S principles. Note that so far no cap has been decided on the price of Author Publishing Charges for gold open access, so for the time being and for coherence, I will adopt as a cap that of Scientific Reports, the full open access journal to whose editorial board I belong (which on the other hand it is very similar to one of the pioneering journals of Open Access, PLOS ONE). Furthermore, I will not do any work or have any relationship whatsoever with journals where I would not be able to publish myself: no editing, no reviewing, nothing. Why from 2020? Simply for colleagues that may want to work with me on a project to be aware of my publication policy beforehand, before they do any work, and I want to give due notice to other journals I am currently working with. Same goes for prospective Ph D students or postdocs: be aware that your career may be hampered by coming to work with me.

It took me a while to make this decision but now that I’ve written it on my website, it feels like I did do something. I’m happy to say that I have adopted Plan S and that I will follow and adopt further ideas to change scientific publication in a meaningful manner. Let’s just hope that it’s sooner than later.”

Author: Anxo Sánchez, researcher at UC3M.

Image credit: cOAlitionS, Science Europe: https://www.coalition-s.org

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