My beef with Plan S

Plan S has been the word on the street for some time now. It is being sold by ERC as a way to promote open access publishing. But those who have taken the time to look closer at it knows that it is much more. It moves the publication fees from the individual researchers to institutions (the universities or the funding organisations), and it promotes standardized publication fees. Thus, effectively removing science publication from an open market. It strives not only to make science freely available, in it is also the ambition to change the science publishing system. I’m OK with all that, I would not mind paying less for publishing our stuff. However, my beef with it is that it excludes hybrid journals, journals where you can chose if you want to publish open access (and pay extra for that) or not (which is cheaper). I think that this part of Plan S shows very clearly that the main scope of it is to change how science is published, and that the open access part is just that, only a part of it.


Here is an very personal example why I do not support Plan S. After having worked my way through a number of journals through more than 100 publications, I know which works better and which behaves like a bunch of college kids printing a paper in their basement on their spare time (well, to some degree, there are quite a few journals out there). And in terms of professionalism, I have found one that is faster, more neutral, and more efficient in every way than all the others (since this is my private blog, I am allowed to write that this is Current Biology). And, they provide the open access option. It is not cheap to publish in that journal, but I get better service from them than from any other journal. However, even though I use the open access option, and make everything I publish there freely available, it does not count as open access according to Plan S, since it is a hybrid journal. That is my beef with Plan S.

Plan S is doing more than promoting open access