Open Access & Thoughts for Plan S

Open Access (OA) to publicly funded research is one of the Common’s most sought after policy efforts, and is now an area in which various research minded people are taking the necessary steps to bring global OA to fruition. In September of last year, Plan S launched in Europe as an effort to bring OA to the center of the research conversation within the next two years.

As described by the Chronicle for Higher Education, “Under Plan S, the research financed by members of the coalition must be published in compliant open-access journals by 2020, made accessible without any embargo,” Ellis writes. “The funding agencies include national research foundations in about a dozen European countries, in addition to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States and the Wellcome Trust in Britain.”

The work of scientists and developers benefits from being able to comb through all of the leading research on a topic, but that work doesn’t get done as well those with the appropriate training lack the resources to access the data. “Science, as an institution of organised criticism, can therefore only function properly if research results are made openly available to the community so that they can be submitted to the test and scrutiny of other researchers,” says the cOAlition-S website.

Recently, Springer Nature, a major publisher of scientific research, urged greater leniency toward ‘hybrid journals’ that openly license some articles but sell access to others.

The tension and hesitation that some have concerning Open Access to research usually stems from money. Private research companies and many of the existing subscription journals worry about how this new push for OA will affect their bottom line. Meanwhile, those who champion OA do so under the logic that if the public has funded the research, the public should have access to its results. These seemingly diametrically opposed viewpoints have been at the center of the OA conversation since its inception, but with major players beginning to take steps toward fully recognizing OA, the future looks promising.

At the end of the day, it only makes sense for publicly funded research to be made openly accessible for everyone. Not only will such an OA effort alleviate the cost of everyone getting to the data, but it will also bolster the research community as a whole by allowing for broader sharing capabilities.

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