UPDATE July 21, 2020: cOAlition S Response to the ERC Scientific Council’s Statement on Open Access and Plan S
cOAlition S has taken note that the ERC Scientific Council wishes to pursue their joint efforts towards Open Access in a more independent way. The European Commission, who directs the Horizon Europe Framework Programme, continues to support cOAlition S and Plan S.
cOAlition S remains firm in its view that support for hybrid journals has failed to accelerate the transition to full and immediate Open Access over the past two decades. The already scarce funding in the Horizon Europe Framework Programme should not be used for the payment of publication fees in hybrid journals. Indeed, outside of transformative agreements, the hybrid model has no effective means to keep double-dipping by publishers in check. For this reason, many European countries, from Germany to Hungary, have recently put in place transformative agreements with publishers.
Maintaining the current status quo on hybrid journals will exacerbate inequalities among European researchers, since only those that benefit from generous funding will be able to cover expensive publication fees. In contrast, the cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy which provides Open Access in compliance with Plan S via the repository route, will empower all researchers to publish in their journal of choice, including subscription and hybrid journals.
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The ERC Scientific Council is committed to implementing full and immediate Open Access and continues to support the principles underlying Plan S. Members of the ERC Scientific Council are participating constructively in various activities aimed at making Open Access a reality.
However, during the past six months, the ERC Scientific Council has intensified its internal debate and reached a unanimous decision to follow a path towards Open Access implementation that is independent of cOAlition S activities. Therefore it has decided to withdraw as a supporter of cOAlition S. In doing so, the ERC Scientific Council wishes to pay closer attention to a number of aspects whose importance has been rather underestimated. Most prominent among them are researchers’ needs, especially those of young researchers who represent the future of European science and innovation. Other aspects include the need to preserve equity among research communities and among European countries, with particular emphasis on countries with more limited national financial support for research.
In particular, cOAlition S has declared that the publication of research results in hybrid venues outside of transformative arrangements will be ‘non-compliant’ as of 1 January 2021, leading to the non-eligibility of related publication costs. The Scientific Council considers that this will be detrimental, especially for early career researchers, researchers working in countries with fewer alternative funding opportunities or working in fields in which Open Access policies are more difficult to implement.
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