Coalition S to drop 1589 journals from transition program
Two-thirds of the more than 2300 scientific journals participating in a program designed to flip them to open access (OA) failed to meet prescribed targets for progress in 2022. As a result, the Coalition S group of research funders behind the initiative announced today that it will remove these journals from the program at the end of the year. The funders will no longer pay the fees these journals charge authors for OA publication, although scholars may still publish OA articles in these titles if they pay using other funding sources.
Many in the scientific community were excited by the move to eliminate subscription fees, so papers were no longer locked behind payroll walls, primarily when the research that produced the paper was funded by public money. The European Plan S from major research funders what’s an example of this. Some were not enamoured by the decision to classify some journals as transitional, where they could keep charging subscription fees and receive some funding from the Plan S consortia. It seemed like double dipping, with a concern some publishers might drag their heels. This news shows that some have, and now the consortia will hold them to account.
Since 2021, the Coalition S funders—which include public agencies in Europe and some large charitable funders such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust—have required grantees to make their peer-reviewed journal articles OA immediately, by paying a fee to publish in an OA journal or placing the article in a public repository.
This policy—known as “Plan S”—initially banned grantees from publishing in “hybrid” journals that earn money from both subscriptions and publishing fees, a practice critics call “double-dipping.” But after publishers complained it would take time to shift all journals to an OA-only business model, Coalition S came to a compromise: It would pay the fees for hybrid journals, but in return, publishers had to commit to a steady transition toward publishing 100% of these journal’s articles as OA, with measurable milestones. Coalition S requires these “transitional journals” show an annual increase in the proportion of papers published OA of at least 5 percentage points in absolute terms. They also have to show a 15% increase each year in the share of OA papers relative to the previous year. (The second criterion requires a journal to speed up the transition as the share of OA articles increases.)