ALPSP: '2020 date for Plan S is too soon'

ALPSP: '2020 date for Plan S is too soon'

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has warned that the pace of change scheduled for Plan S—the controversial international initiative which wants all government funded research to be published Open Access by 2020—gives too little time for members to change their business models.

In a position paper published this week, ALPSP also said the initiative's short time frame wouldn't give researchers a chance to fully engage with a consultation process on the scheme.

"By January 2020 the results from the UKRI review [into Open Access] will only just be available, the outcomes of which will be unclear for UK researchers until that point," ALPSP said. "Furthermore, this rapid transition will disproportionately impact smaller publishers, with limited funding and less flexibility in terms of approaches."

The body raised other concerns, calling for more clarity on the "transformative agreements" being proposed by the Plan to smooth the transition to OA, noting also that transformative agreements are "unavailable to all but the largest players due to the scale and complexity of such negotiations, disadvantaging smaller publishers."

Given that funding is not universally available to those publishing research, Plan S could introduce barriers stopping many researchers from publishing at all, because they have no funding or are unable to pay article processing charges (APCs), ALPSP warned. "The consequences are likely to be detrimental to global collaboration in research and will force our members to make tough choices about which author bases to support", it said.

Given the complex global landscape, "any 'one-size fits all' approach to open access is unlikely to accelerate the transition on a global scale", it added.

Two members of the Coalition behind the introduction of Plan S, Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), are partnering with the ALPSP, in engaging consultancy Information Power to explore a range of potential strategies and business models through which learned societies can transition to Open Access. Announcing the project, Robert Kiley, head of Open Research at Wellcome, said: “Wellcome and UKRI recognise the value learned societies play in supporting researchers and contributing to a vibrant research ecosystem. We are keen for them to be successful in transition to OA in line with Plan S.”

The team– including Alicia Wise, Lorraine Estelle, and Hazel Woodward at Information Power plus additional expert Yvonne Campfens – will document and develop a range of transition approaches and business models for Learned Society publishers to consider.  Pilots with two Society publishers will bring some of the approaches and models to life.  
The final report will be published in July 2019, and all materials will be available under a CC-BY licence.

But ALPSP noted in its position paper:  "We.. welcome the joint project between ALPSP, Wellcome Trust and UKRI to explore how society journals can be sustainable under Plan S.  However, the results of this initiative won’t be available until August 2019, just four months before the proposed introduction of Plan S."