Europe’s plan S could raise everyone else’s publication paywall

Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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As readers, many scientists in Europe will welcome the news that most work will have to be published in open-access journals from 2020 (M. Schiltz Front. Neurosci. 12, 656 (2018); see also Nature 561, 17–18; 2018). But as knowledge producers, I fear that many more scientists around the globe are likely to be disenfranchised by richer nations, institutions and funding bodies.

Open-access publication requires authors to pay in the region of US$1,000–3,000 (more than the cost of many research projects in some disciplines). Although scientists from low-income countries are eligible for full-fee waivers, compulsory open access will force many others to use money intended for research, or to publish in low-tier journals that still retain reader paywalls.

In my view, sources of all publication fees should be recorded — just as funding sources are now — so that marginalized researchers can be identified and rates of waiver use tracked. The findings would guide realistic fee capping by European open-access publications.

Nature 562, 494 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07152-z
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