Robert-Jan Smits on How Plan S will Benefit Early-Career Researchers

Robert-Jan Smits
Open Access Envoy at European Political Strategy Centre of the European Commission

The 2003 Berlin Declaration was a strong manifestation of the science community (researchers and research funders united) to regain ownership of the rules governing the dissemination of scientific information.

Yet, still today the overall bulk of research papers are behind paywalls, in expensive subscription journals. Currently less than 20% of research articles are fully and immediately available in open access. As a result of this, there is no fast access to research results that can contribute to advancing knowledge, innovation breakthroughs and benefit the competitiveness and economic growth of Europe.

Plan S has been devised to make a radical change to the current status of open access with the target 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'.

The research funders involved in cOAlition S will collaborate with other stakeholders and work towards the swift and practical implementation of the 10 principles in the Plan.

Early career researchers will benefit from Plan S in a number of ways:

First, the Plan will allow them to access an enormous pool of scientific articles and data;

Second, this all at no costs for the researchers, because the Funders will pick up the bill.  Funders, libraries, and universities will work together to develop models to cover processing charges in a balanced way, allowing each scientist to publish.

Third, the Plan will not compromise on quality. On the contrary! There will be a range of high quality OA journals available for young researchers to publish. Let’s not forget that the so called high reputation journals do not have a monopoly on excellence! There are many excellent OA journals and Funders will also support initiatives that establish robust quality criteria for Open Access publishing, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).

Fourth, Plan S also foresees revising the rewards systems and use of bibliometric indicators and thus correcting some of the perverse effects of the wrong use of indicators such as the Journal Impact Factor, as was already proposed in the San Francisco Declaration on Research Evaluation (DORA).

That’s why Plan S will benefit young researchers and I call upon you all and your umbrella organisation Eurodoc, to publicly support the plan.​