cOAlition S: the tipping point for European Open Access?

If you're in one of these 11 countries, this could soon have a direct effect on you. cOAlition S aims to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality.

Credit: Science Europe
We all know that many funding organisations are committed to Open Access publishing. But could a new coalition, cOAlition S, finally make it a reality?

11 national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission including the European Research Council (ERC), have just announced a bold new initiative to commit to Open Access publication of their research.

What is cOAlition S?

Europe has made a political commitment to open access. Now is the time for us to act collectively to make this a reality.

The research funders from 11 European countries have formed cOAlition S, a coalition committed to making published research publicly available. The key principle is that from 2020 forward, all scientific research funded by public grants awarded by the 11 national funders must be published in compliant Open Access journals or on compliant Open Access platforms – immediately, and with no restrictions. 

Why does the European Commission support it?

‘”Knowledge is power’ and I firmly believe that free access to all scientific publications from publicly funded research is a moral right of citizens,” the EU’s Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, said in a statement. “Europe has made a political commitment to open access. Now is the time for us to act collectively to make this a reality.”

What’s next?

The 11 national funders aim to have everything in place by 01 January 2020. But implementation of the plan may not be easy. Currently it would prevent researchers funded by these bodies from publishing in about 85% of journals unless they change their publishing models, according to Nature, and publishers aren’t happy about it.

“Implementing such a plan, in our view, would disrupt scholarly communications, be a disservice to researchers, and impinge academic freedom,” a spokesperson for AAAS, Science‘s publisher, told Science.

But Marc Schiltz the president of Science Europe, who helped frame the plan, thinks this could be a tipping point. “The subscription-based model of scientific publishing emerged at a certain point in the history of science, when research papers needed extensive typesetting, layout design, printing, and when hardcopies of journals needed to be distributed throughout the world,” he explains. “There is no valid reason to maintain any kind of subscription-based business model for scientific publishing in the digital world.”

“Publishers are not the enemy,” Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, Robert-Jan Smits told Nature. “I want them to be part of the change.”

Who is involved?

Credit: Science Europe

Other research funders from across the world, both public and private, are invited to join cOAlition S.

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