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This observation was written by Caroline Winter.

At a glance:

TitlePlan S Update: The Expanding Membership of cOAlition S
CreatorcOAlition S
Publication Daten/a
KeywordsScholarly communication, international policy, open access

This Observation is part of a series focusing on developments related to cOAlition S and Plan S since they were launched in September 2018.

Plan S is an initiative of cOAlition S, an international consortium of research and funding organizations. The Plan calls for full and immediate open access (OA) of all publicly funded research publications (see “Plan S and cOAlition S”).

cOAlition S launched on September 4, 2018, with the support of Science Europe, the European Commission and 11 member organizations, national research funders in Europe and the UK (Science Europe 2018):

Since its inception, the membership of cOAlition S has expanded worldwide; as of February 2021, it includes 26 members from Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. The timeline below lists when each subsequent member joined cOAlition S and includes a link to their Plan S–aligned OA policy (cOAlition S 2021).

  • November 5, 2018: Wellcome, a private, UK-based biomedical and health research funding organization. In 2005, Wellcome was the first research funder to implement a mandatory OA policy. It also announced a new OA policy that came into effect on January 1, 2021. Wellcome is the first cOAlition S member from the UK.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a US-based health and development research foundation, also joined on this date. Its new OA policy came into effect on January 1, 2021. It is the first cOAlition S member from the US, and, with Wellcome, is one of the first private funders to join.

The European Research Council (ERC) was one of the original supporters of Plan S, but in July 2020, the ERC Scientific Council announced that it was withdrawing its support from cOAlition S. The announcement, which cites the plan’s lack of support for publication in hybrid journals and the consequences for early career researchers as its reason for withdrawing support, was met with surprise from many in the academic community, although some stakeholders expressed similar concerns (Burke 2020; cOAlition S 2020; Matthews 2020a, 2020b; Kamerlin 2020; Kelly 2020; Walkden 2020).

cOAlition S in the Press

Issues related to the expanding membership of cOAlition S and the widening reach of Plan S have been covered in the academic press. A piece in Physics Today called “Transformative Open-Access Deals Spread to the US,” for instance, notes similarities between about the read-and-publish agreement struck between the University of California and Springer Nature in June 2020, and those negotiated between publishers and national research organizations under Plan S (Kramer 2020).

Elsevier’s decision to register 160 of its publications as transformative journals through cOAlition S, which cOAlition announced in January 2021, has also drawn the attention of the press. A piece in Chemistry World, for instance, notes that this decision coincides with a “crucial new stage” in Plan S, since many cOAlition S members’ OA policies came into effect on January 1, 2021 (Durrani 2021).

Discussions about the need for open access to research in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic have also made reference to cOAlition S. A piece in Big Think points out that cOAlition S’s efforts to prevent inflated article processing fees by requiring greater transparency about publishers’ costs is essential for preventing the cost of OA publishing falling on researchers. It emphasizes that enabling researchers to provide the public with access to accurate and reliable health research is particularly important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a lack of transparency may lead to mistrust of public health agencies and pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines (Beres 2021).

cOAlition S and the INKE Partnership

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ report Advancing Open: Views from Scholarly Communications Practitioners notes that, although the Open movement is underway in Canada, our research and funding infrastructures would not yet support a “transformative open scholarship model” such as Plan S (MacCallum et al. 2020, 7; see “CARL’s Advancing Open Event and Report”).

CARL has expressed support for Plan S in principle and submitted a response to the first iteration of Plan S. It has since expressed support for the revised implementation guidelines for Plan S through a statement by the International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA) and support for the cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy (see “Plan S Update: Rights Retention Strategy”).

Similarly, the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) have expressed support for Plan S in principle in their response to the first iteration of the implementation guidelines, have welcomed the revised implementation guidelines, and have expressed support for the RRS (see “Plan S Update: Rights Retention Strategy”).

cOAlition S’s Expanding Membership and Open Scholarship

While cOAlition S began as a group of European funding agencies, it has since expanded to include members from Africa, the Middle East, the UK, and North America. Canada and Australia have expressed support for the coalition’s work even though they are not signatories, and Plan S has become an important touchstone against which to compare open scholarship policy. As cOAlition S continues to expand its membership, the reach of Plan S continues to broaden, with implications for open scholarship worldwide.

Works Cited

Beres, Derek. 2021. “Should Scientific Studies Be Available for Free?” Big Think. January 6, 2021.

Burke, Maria. 2020. “Blow to Open Access Plan S as European Research Council Withdraws.” Chemistry World. August 7, 2020.

cOAlition S. 2020. “cOAlition S response to the ERC Scientific Council’s statement on Open Access and Plan S.” July 21, 2020.

cOAlition S. 2021. “Implementation Roadmap of cOAlition S Organisations.”

Durrani, Jamie. 2021. “Elsevier Flips 160 Journals to Open Access.” Chemistry World. January 14, 2021.

Kamerlin, Shina Caroline Lynn. 2020. “Open Access, Plan S, and Researchers’ Needs.” EMBO Reports. September 7, 2020.

Kelly, Éanna. 2020. “European Research Council’s Rejection of Open Access Scheme ‘a Slap in the Face,’ says Plan S Architect.” Science|Business. July 23, 2020.

Kramer, David. 2020. “Transformative Open-access Deals Spread to the US.” Physics Today.

MacCallum, Lindsey, Ann Barrett, Leah Vanderjagt, and Amy Buckland. 2020. “Advancing Open: Views from Scholarly Communications.” Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL–ABRC).

Matthews, David. 2020a. “ERC President Quits after Coronavirus Row.” Times Higher Education. April 8, 2020.

Matthews, David. 2020b. “Blow to Plan S Open Access Project as ERC Withdraws Support.” Times Higher Education. July 22, 2020.

Science Europe. 2018. “National Research Funding Organisations Participating in cOAlition S.” August 30, 2018.

Walkden, George. 2020. “The ERC and Plan S: An Open Letter.” Medium. July 22, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization). 2021. “About WHO.”