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Plan S and cOAlition S: A commitment to open access in the EU

Published by Kate Shuttleworth

One of the strongest commitments to open access publishing to-date was announced in the European Union this week, and is enhancing the way scientific research will be shared and disseminated.

Eleven European research funding organizations, along with the European Commission including the European Research Council, have announced a plan to make immediate open access publishing mandatory for all publicly-funded research in the EU by January 2020. 

Dubbed "COAlition S," this collaborative plan recognizes that "open access is fundamental to the scientific enterprise" and "a decisive step towards the realization of full open access needs to be taken now" (Schiltz, 2018). 

The COAlition has agreed to 10 principles which outline the requirements for all publicly-funded research to be published in open access journals or on compliant open access platforms. These principles include a commitment to establishing quality requirements for journals and platforms, as well as to financially supporting researchers with open access publishing fees by insuring these are covered by the funders or universities.

The cOALition recognizes the changing landscape of research dissemination and the ability of open access publishing to "maximize the impact, visibility, and efficiency of the whole research process" (Schiltz, 2018).

Why are they doing this?

From the Preamble by Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe

"Publication paywalls are withholding a substantial amount of research results from a large fraction of the scientific community and from society as a whole. This constitutes an absolute anomaly, which hinders the scientific enterprise in its very foundations and hampers its uptake by society. Monetising the access to new and existing research results is profoundly at odds with the ethos of science. There is no longer any justification for this state of affairs to prevail and the subscription-based model of scientific publishing, including its so-called ‘hybrid’ variants, should therefore be terminated. In the 21st century, science publishers should provide a service to help researchers disseminate their results. They may be paid fair value for the services they are providing, but no science should be locked behind paywalls!"

How does this relate to open access mandates from Canadian funders?

The cOAlition is one of several commitments to open access publishing occurring globally, and is similar to the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications enacted by Canada's three major federal research agencies, NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR (the Tri-Agency). This policy requires that all research funded by the Tri-Agency be made open access within 12 months of publication.

How does this relate to SFU's policy on open access?

SFU has had an open access policy since January, 2017, which acknowledges the commitment of SFU faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows to share the products of their SFU research with the broadest possible audience. To satisfy the policy requirement in one easy step, SFU researchers can provide an electronic copy of the finalized text of their published articles to the Simon Fraser University Library. The Library will make the articles available to the public, taking into consideration requirements for access delay.

Authors should submit the finalized text of articles via the Summit deposit form no later than the date of publication.

Where can I learn more?

About COAlition S and the 10 principles of the Plan

Science Europe. (2018). COAlition S: Making Open Access a reality by 2020.

Schiltz, M. (2018) Science Without Publication Paywalls: cOAlition S for the Realisation of Full and Immediate Open Access. Front. Neurosci. 12:656. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00656

Schiltz, M. (2018) Science Without Publication Payways: a Preamble to: cOAlition S for the Realisation of Full and Immediate Open Access. Retrieved from

About making your work open access at SFU

SFU Library. (2018). Ways to make your work open access.

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