European countries push to end paywalls for publicly-funded scientific studies

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Major national funders of scientific research announced they will stop financing studies that are published behind paywalls by 2020. The open-initiative proposal, known as Plan-S, would dramatically alter how peer-reviewed articles are published.

Under the plan, eleven national research funders, including the UK Research and Innovation, would require scientists who accept their public grants to publish their work in open-access platforms. This plan would exclude roughly 85 percent of peer-reviewed journals as of 2017 which charge some sort of fee in order to access their studies (Universities UK). Plan-S has sparked backlash from scientific publishing companies, which largely support the subscription model.  

 

Why scientists support open-access

The eleven research agencies in question fund approximately $8.8 billion in research every year, according to Nature, all of which come from taxpayers of Europe. Supporters of open-access argue that the same taxpayers should be able to read the articles they helped finance, instead of paying the scientific publishers, which make up a 19 billion pound global industry (Guardian).

 

Why publishing companies oppose

Publishing companies claim that open-access initiatives will “undermine academic freedom” and the solvency of future research (ScienceMag).

 

How would Plan-S change publishing

Under this proposal, publishers would be paid upfront by national research groups to cover the cost of editing and keeping the studies online (European Scientist).

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