Debate on academic freedom and open access is healthy

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey, USA.

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Imperial College, London, UK.

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Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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Robert-Jan Smits declares it a “pity” that arguments about academic freedom are stifling debate on his ‘Plan S’, which promotes a radical shift towards open-access publishing (see Nature 562, 174; 2018). In fact, the opposite is happening.

Spirited debates on the topic are ongoing among researchers, publishers, librarians, journalists, funders and members of the public (see, for example,;;;; We have yet to reach agreement on what to make of the major European funders’ radical shift to compulsory open-access publishing by 2020, but we continue to explore this important issue in good faith.

In a Plan S world, the research community will need to address academic responsibility, the future of scholarly societies and their journals, and how to respect disciplinary differences and ensure the high quality of publications. We invite Smits and all other architects of the plan to engage academics in constructive discourse on these issues.

Nature 562, 494 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07153-y

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