European countries to end paywalls for publicly funded scientific studies

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

Under the plan, 11 national research funders, including UK Research and Innovation, will require scientists who accept their public grants to publish their work in open-access platforms. The plan would exclude roughly 85 percent of peer-reviewed journals that, as of 2017, charge a fee to users to access studies (Universities UK). Plan-S has sparked backlash from scientific publishing companies, which largely support the subscription model.  

Why scientists support open-access

The 11 research agencies behind the plan fund approximately $8.8 billion in research every year, according to Nature. All of their funds come from taxpayers in Europe. Supporters of open-access argue the same taxpayers should be able to read the articles they helped finance, instead of paying scientific publishers, which make up a $24.4 billion global industry (Guardian).

Why publishing companies oppose open-access

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

How will Plan-S change publishing?

Under the plan, publishers will be paid upfront by national research groups to cover the costs of editing and keeping studies online (European Scientist).

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