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This observation was written by Caroline Winter, with thanks to Tanja Niemann and Simon Van Bellen for their feedback and suggestions.

At a glance:

TitleThe Fonds de Recherche du Québec Joins cOAlition S
CreatorThe Fonds de Recherche du Québec
Publication DateJune 2021
Keywordsopen access, funding agencies, scholarly communication

In June 2021, the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) announced that they were joining cOAlition S and implementing the principles of Plan S, including full and immediate open access to the research it funds. 

The FRQ are the first Canadian funding organization and the first public funding organization in North America to join cOAlition S, which was founded in 2018 as a group of 11 European funding organizations committed to advancing open access, supported by the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Commission (see “Plan S and cOAlition S”). It has since expanded to include members from Africa, the Middle East, and the US (see “Plan S Update: The Expanding Membership of cOAlition S”).

The FRQ comprise Québec’s three research funding agencies: Nature and Technologies (FRQNT), Health (FRQS), and Society and Culture (FRQSC). Representing almost a quarter of Canada’s research community, the FRQ administered $253 million in research funding in 2019–2020 to researchers based in Québec (European Science Foundation, 2021). The FRQ also offers a Scientific Journal Support Program, which supports the publication of scholarly research in French, with priority to digital publication and open access (FRQ 2021). Their existing OA policy, in place since 2019, requires publications to be open access within 12 months of publication; in order to align this policy with Plan S, as of March 2023, this embargo period will be eliminated (Gouvernement du Québec, 2021).

Response from the INKE Community

Plan S and cOAlition S have been of interest to the INKE community since their launch, in recognition of the global nature of open scholarship. In its 2020 report Advancing Open: Views from Scholarly Communications Practitioners, the Open Repositories Working Group of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries—an INKE partner—expresses concerns about Canada’s readiness to adopt a “transformative open scholarship model” such as Plan S (MacCallum et al. 7). The FRQ’s extended timeline for eliminating its embargo period—nearly two years rather than the typical one—seems to address this concern, however. As the FRQ’s press release notes, “Aware of the impacts that this change could have on the scientific and student community, the FRQ will gradually deploy the 10 principles of Plan S and establish measures to support members of this community” (European Science Foundation 2021; Gouvernement du Québec 2021).

INKE partner Érudit has a collaborated with the FRQSC since 2006. Following the FRQ OA policy, all journals funded by FRQSC are OA through Érudit (Érudit 2021).

The FRQ, cOAlition S, and Open Scholarship

As the first Canadian funder to join cOAlition S, the FRQ are paving the way for other Canadian and North American public funders to join Plan S, which has become a global initiative.

Although research funded by the FRQ is not necessarily published in French, its joining with Plan S occurs in the context of other initiatives led by the Chief Scientist of Québec, including the launch of a francophone network on science advice for public policy, announced in September 2021. The report accompanying the launch of this network notes that French language research must be available in open access to all francophone researchers (Scientifique en chef 2021, p. 48). The FRQ OA policy also supports French-language scholarship as one of its core principles (FRQ 2019).

The news of the FRQ joining cOAlition was shared on the website of the Consulat Général de France à Québec, pointing to the fact that French OA policy is another important context for the FRQ’s decision. Itself adopted in the context of broader European frameworks, including Horizon Europe, The Second French Plan for Open Science: Generalizing Open Science in France 2021–2024 expands upon the first plan of 2018 to include open code, infrastructure to support data sharing, and an emphasis on generalizing OA more broadly, including through the translation of French publications to improve their accessibility. As noted in an article in Times Higher Ed, France’s new Plan is one of the new national policies to emphasize support for diamond OA, a route to OA in which journals do not charge article processing charges or subscription fees (Matthews 2021). The Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France’s national research funding body, has been a member of cOAlition S since its inception, and many French researchers likely publish in Québec’s French-language journals.

Works Cited

Érudit. 2021. Annual Report 2020–2021: Érudit Consortium. https://www.erudit.org/public/documents/AnnualReport_20-21.pdf.

European Science Foundation. 2021. “cOAlition S Expands its Global Footprint as the Québec Research Funds adopt Plan S.” Plan S: Making Full & Immediate Open Access a Reality. https://www.coalition-s.org/coalition-s-expands-its-global-footprint-as-the-quebec-research-funds-adopt-plan-s/.

FRQ (Fonds de Recherche du Québec). 2019. The Fonds de Recherche du Québec Open Access Policy for the Dissemination of Research. Gouvernement du Québec, https://frq.gouv.qc.ca/app/uploads/2021/05/politique-libre-acces_en_avril19.pdf.

FRQ (Fonds de Recherche du Québec). 2021, May. Scientific Journal Support Program. Gouvernement du Québec, https://frq.gouv.qc.ca/app/uploads/2021/07/scientific-journal-support-program-frqsc.pdf.

Gouvernement du Québec. 2021, June 21. “The Fonds de recherche du Québec Support Open Science by Joining cOAlition S.” Québec. https://www.scientifique-en-chef.gouv.qc.ca/en/nouvelles/the-fonds-de-recherche-du-quebec-support-open-science-by-joining-coalition-s/.

Matthews, David. 2021, July 13. “France to Back Not-for Profit Diamond Journals.” Times Higher Ed, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/france-back-not-profit-diamond-journals.

Scientifique en chef du Québec. 2021. Vers un résearu francophone pour l’utilisation des science en soutien aux politiques publiques: Document pour consultation. Gouvernement du Québec, September 2021. https://www.scientifique-en-chef.gouv.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/ConseilSci_Francophonie_version_Sept2021.pdf.