Since the September 2018 launch of the Europe-backed program to mandate immediate open access (OA) to scientific literature, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on. That’s still far shy of Plan S’s ambition: to convince the world’s major research funders to require immediate OA to all published papers stemming from their grants.
If Plan S fails to grow, it could remain a divisive mandate that applies to only a small percentage of the world’s scientific papers. (Delta Think, a consulting company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, estimates that the first 15 funders to back Plan S accounted for 3.5% of the global research articles in 2017.) To transform publishing, the plan needs global buy-in.
Outside Europe and North America, funders gave Science mixed responses about Plan S. India, the third biggest producer of scientific papers in the world, will “very likely” join Plan S, says Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan in New Delhi, principal scientific adviser to India’s government. But the Russian Science Foundation is not planning to join. South Africa’s National Research Foundation says it “supports Plan S in principle,” but wants to consult stakeholders before signing on. Jun Adachi of the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo, an adviser to the Japan Alliance of University Library Consortia for E-Resources, says that despite interest from funders and libraries, OA has yet to gain much traction in his country.
South America has a strong tradition of OA repositories and fee-free publishing, often with government subsidies. Bianca Amaro, president of LA Referencia, a Santiago-based Latin American network of repositories, says Plan S takes a more “systemic view” than previous policies, and she values its pledge to monitor APCs and their impact—a worry for lower-income countries. “We’ll see how Europe handles this,” she says.