January 26, 2022

The Scientist: “As Plan S Takes Effect, Some Anticipate Inequitable Outcomes “

From The Scientist:

“Essentially what Plan S is doing is it’s moving from a reader-pays to a [author]-pays system,” says Robin Crewe, a retired entomologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and former president of the Academy of Science of South Africa. “That’s fine in systems in which the research activities are well funded,” he says, but “when you come to developing countries like South Africa, the grants are not nearly as generous.”

Indeed, South Africa is set to serve as an early test case in how Plan S’s mandates will play out outside Europe. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is one of the few non-European national agencies that has joined Plan S. “SAMRC conducts research to improve the health of the country. This cannot be achieved if research results are behind paywalls and not accessible to all,” Nikiwe Momoti, who is leading SAMRC’s Plan S transition, writes in email to The Scientist.


Alicia Kowaltowski, a biochemist at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, also expresses concern about the implementation of Plan S. “It’s very clear for everybody that science should be openly readable,” she says. “The problems I see with Plan S is that it’s pushing for open access . . . very quickly before [thinking] of other problems in the publishing industry.”

She adds that the push toward a pay-to-publish system will affect researchers worldwide, regardless of whether their national research agencies sign onto Plan S. “The fact that [Brazil’s government funding agencies] didn’t sign [Plan S] doesn’t mean we are not affected by this, cause the prices are going up.”


Robert Kiley, the head of strategy of cOAlition S and the head of open research at the Wellcome Trust, says that the coalition “is trying to get publishers to think more about how they can develop more equitable models.” He points to an initiative at PLOS, a pioneer open-access publisher, called a Global Equity Model, which the publisher recently implemented for three of its journals. In this model, an institution pays an annual fixed fee based on its historical publishing activity in the field covered by the journal and the classification by income of the country where it is located. Researchers at member institutions can then publish an unlimited number of articles in the selected journal.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 2030 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.