Bold plan to take European open access initiative global in 2019

2019 could be a watershed year for efforts to open up access to scientific research, according to Robert-Jan Smits, the creator of a radical plan to tear down scholarly journal paywalls.

The Plan S initiative launched in September 2018 calls for free access to all scientific papers at the point of publication. It has received backing from 13 funding bodies, including national agencies in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

China’s pledge of strong support for the plan in December last year, which stunned many, has boosted expectations that other science superpowers will swing behind the plan in the coming months.

High on the wish list are India and South Africa. Beyond Africa, Smits is also seeking support among public science funders in the US, and is hopeful that the newly appointed science adviser to the Trump Administration, Kelvin Droegemeier, will get behind the plan.

However, Plan S is contentious among scientists who fear it will restrict their choice of where to publish. Several hundred researchers last year signed a letter condemning the initiative, saying it, “Goes too far, is unfair for the scientists involved and is too risky for science in general.”

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