Plan S feedback

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On Friday I submitted the University of Manchester’s feedback on Plan S. We’d invited feedback from across campus so our response reflects views from a wide range of academic disciplines as well as those from the Library.

Our response could be considered informally as ‘Yes, but…’, ie, we agree with the overall aim but, as always, the devil’s in the detail.

Our Humanities colleagues expressed a number of reservations but noted “we are strongly in favour of Open Access publishing” and “we very much welcome the pressure, from universities and funders, on publishers to effect more immediate and less costly access to our research findings”.

The response from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health also flagged concerns but stated “if Plan S is watered down, the pressure exerted on journal publishers may not be acute enough to force a profound shift in business model”.

A number of concerns raised assumed launch of Plan S based on the status quo. Updates from the Library have tried to reassure our academic colleagues that there’s work going on ‘behind the scenes’ which makes this unlikely and remind them that UK funder OA policies may not be exact replicas of Plan S.

We’ve been here before in the sense that when the UK Research Councils announced that a new OA policy would be adopted from April 2013, publishers amended their OA offer to accommodate the new policy requirements. Not every publisher of Manchester outputs did, but things did shift. For large publishers this happened fairly quickly, but for smaller publishers this took a bit longer, and in some cases required nudging by their academic authors.

It’s worth reflecting on how that policy played out as we consider Plan S: put simply, it cost a lot of money and most publishers didn’t provide options that fully met the Green OA requirements.

The key points in our response are concerns about affordability, Green OA requirements and the current ‘one size fits all’ approach. You can read it here: UoM_Plan-S_feedback.

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