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Communications Science

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: How far will Plan S spread? Since the September 2018 launch of the Europe-backed program to mandate immediate open access (OA) to scientific literature, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on. That's still far shy of Plan S's ambition: to convince the world's major research funders to require immediate OA to all published papers stemming from their grants. Whether it will reach that goal depends in part on details that remain to be settled, including a cap on the author charges that funders will pay for OA publication. But the plan has gained momentum: In December 2018, China stunned many by expressing strong support for Plan S. This month, a national funding agency in Africa is expected to join, possibly followed by a second U.S. funder. Others around the world are considering whether to sign on. Plan S, scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2020, has drawn support from many scientists, who welcome a shake-up of a publishing system that can generate large profits while keeping taxpayer-funded research results behind paywalls. But publishers (including AAAS, which publishes Science) are concerned, and some scientists worry that Plan S could restrict their choices.

If Plan S fails to grow, it could remain a divisive mandate that applies to only a small percentage of the world's scientific papers. (Delta Think, a consulting company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, estimates that the first 15 funders to back Plan S accounted for 3.5% of the global research articles in 2017.) To transform publishing, the plan needs global buy-in. The more funders join, the more articles will be published in OA journals that comply with its requirements, pushing publishers to flip their journals from paywall-protected subscriptions to OA, says librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, the chief digital scholarship officer at the University of California, Berkeley.

North American isn't onboard. "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was the first Plan S participant outside Europe, and another private funder may follow," the report says. "But U.S. federal agencies are sticking to policies developed after a 2013 White House order to make peer-reviewed papers on work they funded freely available within 12 months of publication." Canada also isn't ready to change their joint 2015 OA policy. "Plan S is 'a bold and aggressive approach, which is why we want to make sure we've done our homework to ensure it would have the best effect on Canadian science," says Kevin Fitzgibbons, executive director of corporate planning and policy at Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council in Ottawa. Outside Europe and North America, funders gave Science mixed responses about Plan S. "India, the third biggest producer of scientific papers in the world, will 'very likely' join Plan S, says Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan in New Delhi, principal scientific adviser to India's government," reports Science. "But the Russian Science Foundation is not planning to join. South Africa's National Research Foundation says it 'supports Plan S in principle,' but wants to consult stakeholders before signing on. Jun Adachi of the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo, an adviser to the Japan Alliance of University Library Consortia for E-Resources, says that despite interest from funders and libraries, OA has yet to gain much traction in his country."