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TU/e researchers to discuss open access plan

Scientists who receive funding from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) or from a European subsidy organization are required to publish their results and data in open access journals or platforms by January 1, 2020. TU/e’s scientific staff have been invited to discuss the initiative, known as Plan S, during the next two weeks. Marjet Elemans, open access specialist at the Information Expertise Center (IEC), talks about the current situation.

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The implementation of Plan S is especially meaningful to TU/e because Robert-Jan Smits, Special Envoy open access to the European Union, will succeed Chairman of the Board Jan Mengelers in May. During the last few months, Smits has been busy promoting and often defending the plan throughout Europe. Plan S has met with some resistance, and parts of the plan are not fully clear yet. Marjet Elemans agrees with this observation and says that an updated version of Plan S is expected by late spring. “This will create more clarity in certain matters, and will also include the feedback that people were able to submit until February 8.”

Elemans welcomes the fact that three dialogue sessions will be held at TU/e during the next two weeks (the first one will take place on Wednesday, February 20 in Gemini) in order to discuss the implementation of Plan S more widely. Elemans will give an introductory presentation and Rector Magnificus Frank Baaijens will be present as well. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to asks questions and discuss. As far as Elemans knows, Robert-Jan Smits will not attend the sessions.

Different views

Elemans is sometimes asked about Plan S, but she’s “not exactly overrun with questions” at this time. “That might be because our site isn’t well known yet, but we expect more questions as 2020 draws near.” Elemans says that people at TU/e hold “different views” when it comes to Plan S. “Some are very well informed, other less so, and we have supporters and opponents here as well of course.”  

According to Elemans, eight percent of TU/e’s scientific output is currently published in a completely open access journal or platform. That might lead to the conclusion that there is still a lot of work to be done before 2020. However, Elemans puts that into perspective by pointing out that forty percent of all output is published in hybrid journals, which is also acceptable to Plan S. “But these are the publications in hybrid journals that are part of an agreement made in the past by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) with several publishers,” Elemans explains. “Plan S will impose different requirements on agreements made after January 1, 2020. The VSNU’s ability to come to an agreement that will meet these new requirements partly depends on the willingness of the publishers to cooperate.”


The largest part of the remaining fifty percent of TU/e’s output is published in hybrid journals that are not part of the VSNU agreement, Elemans says. “A list of ‘approved’ journals would be very welcome. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the European subsidy organizations still have to compile these lists, but we don’t know how long this will take. There are indications that a list of ‘approved’ completely open access journals is in the making, but so far there are no signals of such a list for ‘approved’ hybrid journals.”

For this reason, Elemans says, the position taken by the publishers in this entire matter is crucial. “They could create an entirely different situation if they were to switch to open access. It’s always about money of course, so we have to wait and see.”

These are the dates and locations of the three dialogue sessions: Wednesday, February 20 in the hall of Gemini, starting at 12:00; Monday, February 25 in Helix STC, starting at 12:30; Wednesday, February 27 in Flux 1.02, starting at 12:00. Participants are kindly requested to register in advance here. All sessions will be held in English.

Open access and Plan S

Open access strives for free and open online access to scientific publications for everyone. To date, universities often pay high subscription fees for journals that carry articles by their own researchers. In the business models of open access publications, the researchers, universities or financers will pay for each article. This publication will be directly accessible to anyone interested. In recent years steps have been made towards open access, but Plan S tries to accelerate the process. In early September 2018, ten principles were outlined for this purpose.

The key principle is that by 2020, all publications funded by the participating European subsidy organizations must be open access available to everyone. This can be accomplished in three ways.

  • Publishing in a completely open access journal;
  • Placing in a repository, an online archive, without an embargo but with specific conditions attached;
  • Publishing in a hybrid journal with which agreements were made on the transition to completely open access.

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