Plan S, an open access initiative (OA) launched by the European Commission of Europe and Science in September, has acquired two large new members. The Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the two largest private foundations in the world that support research – today announced that they are joining a consortium of 11 European funding institutions that require their funded research to be read freely by everyone in the publication.
The two new partners add a lot of muscle funding to efforts to require scientists to publish their papers in journals that make their content free to the public, instead of charging a subscription fee. Existing Plan S coalition partners, represented by Science Europe, collectively spend around $ 8.7 billion on research. Wellcome, based in London, funds around $ 1.3 billion in biomedical research per year, while the Seattle-based Gates Foundation issues more than $ 1.2 billion in global health R & D.
The biggest part of the policy change is in January 2020, Wellcome and Gates will no longer allow their grantees to publish what is called a hybrid OA journal, which has subscription and free content. Most scientific journals now follow a hybrid business model, which allows authors to pay fees if they want to make their article OA. Over the past decade, Wellcome has allowed grantees to pay these fees, partly because they consider it a way to help publishers finance changes in their business model to full OA. "We no longer believe it is a transition," said Robert Kiley, head of open research at Wellcome. "We are looking to bring change where all research is open access."
Wellcome will make two further changes that have become part of the Gates Foundation OA policy: All writers must maintain creative shared copyright, to facilitate the reuse of content, and research must be freely available immediately in publications. (The current Wellcome policy allows publishers to keep articles behind Paywall for 6 months and is not comprehensive in requiring creative commons licenses.)
Authors funded by the foundation can comply with publishing in an open access journal. Or, if they publish in paid journals, they must simultaneously add their accepted script to the PubMed Central or European PMC open repository. (Most top-tier journals such as Nature, Cell, and Science do not allow this to last at least 6 months after publication.) If the research is related to an outbreak of an ongoing public health or illness, the author must post a pre-print before peer-review .
Wellcome's new policy differs from Plan S's principles with regard to the processing costs of articles for OA journals. The S plan aspires to limit these costs to a certain amount, but Wellcome, notes that publishers vary in how much they improve the article, planning to continue to pay whatever costs are considered "reasonable" by the foundation (Gates is reviewing its policies on fees.)
Robert-Jan Smits, OA envoy with a commission in Brussels and a prominent advocate from Plan S, said in a statement that by joining the effort, Gates and Wellcome "made important contributions to the purpose of Plan S to accelerate the transition to fullness. and Open Access directly to scientific publications. "