Plan S, the research funders’ initiative to bring about full and immediate Open Access to research publications, has solicited public feedback on their guidance for implementation.
Stirling University Library has submitted a response, approved by the University’s Research Committee. We broadly support Plan S in their aims but make a number of comments and recommendations for amendments based on our own experience of working towards Open Access.
Stirling University Library: Response to Plan S
Introduction and background
Stirling University Library broadly supports Plan S and its goals to ensure publicly funded research is made openly available.
The University of Stirling’s own policies and experience are in harmony with many of the Plan S aims. The University has long been a pioneer of Open Access and was one of the first Universities in the UK to adopt a formal Open Access policy for research publications (and the second worldwide, after Harvard, to be adopted by Faculty rather than administrators).
Our Open Access Policy began in March 2008, with these aims:
- To maximise the visibility, citation, usage and impact of our research output by maximising online access to it for all would-be users and researchers worldwide.
- To minimise the effort that researchers expend providing open access to our research.
Our Open Access repository policy states that:
- We support the principle that the outcomes of publicly funded research should be made available as widely as possible.
- The University OA repository is used to hold, and make public, the full-text versions of a wide variety of research outputs.
- Journal articles must be submitted immediately upon acceptance for publication.
- All journal articles published from 2007 onwards are to be submitted.
In 2013 the University created an Article Processing Charge Fund to support Open Access publishing by our researchers. The aim is to go beyond meeting minimum funders’ requirements. Therefore, access to the fund has the following eligibility criteria, either:
- The funder requires that research papers must be published via the gold route
- The journal the applicant wishes to publish in is an Open Access only journal
Success of Our Support for Open Access
Our OA Policy and Fund have successfully enabled the growing population of our repository (http://storre.stir.ac.uk). Articles are either immediately Open Access or available upon request (via fair dealing). Compliance with our repository deposit policy for journal articles (published from 2007 to 2018) has grown from 31% in June 2009 to 63% in January 2015, and then again to 74% in December 2018. For journal articles published in 2018 our deposit rate is currently 88%.
During 2015 to 2018 our repository full-text publication files were downloaded more than 1.5 million times.
Costs of Open Access Publishing
Although Green Open Access is not without costs, the per-article costs of Gold Open Access are very challenging. Libraries are typically still funding traditional journal subscriptions whilst both hybrid and fully-OA charges have continued to rise (https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2017/monitoring-transition-open-access-2017.pdf). Therefore, we welcome the move by cOAlition S to “establish a fair and reasonable article processing charge”.
Support for Green Open Access and Open Access Repositories
Our own experience, and that of many other institutions, leads us to have a strong belief in the role of institutional repositories and Green Open Access. We are participating in the discussions towards the implementation of UKSCL: the UK Model Institutional Open Access Policy (http://ukscl.ac.uk/) and are optimistic that there can be a role for the Licence in the transition towards a full and sustainable Open Access scholarly communication landscape.
Therefore we recommend that:
- In line with feedback from Harvard Library and MIT Libraries (https://libraries.mit.edu/news/harvard-library/29052/), that Plan S support Green Open Access and include “Open Access” in the list of benefits of OA repositories.
- Plan S assists OA repositories by changing the list of challenging repository technical specifications from the level of requirement to recommendation. This will enable repositories to continue to play their important role. We endorse the COAR feedback on this topic https://www.coar-repositories.org/news-media/coars-response-to-plan-s/.
- cOAlition S supports initiatives such as UKSCL by building author re-use rights-retention into Plan S.
David Telford, Executive Director of Information Services
Lisa Haddow, Library Archives and Research Support Team Manager
Clare Allan, Senior Research Librarian
Approved by University of Stirling Research Committee, 6th February 2019