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"The transfer to open access should take place as soon as it is possible"

Today, Science Europe is presenting a plan aimed at speeding up the transfer to open access to research results, Plan S. According to this plan, all scientific publications that report on the results of research financed by governmental funding bodies shall be openly accessible as from 1 January 2020. The Swedish Research Council agrees in principle to the aims of the plan.

Research results and the knowledge generated through research has always been of central importance for the development of society. This will continue to be the case in future. Research will form the basis for solutions to the challenges that we are facing today, but will also lead to entirely new knowledge that is beyond today’s knowledge horizon.

It is therefore important that all actors in society have the opportunity to partake of research results. Today, large numbers of persons with research training are active outside academia. Academia and the surrounding society also interact to a high degree. There is therefore a need to enable more people than only those involved in academia to absorb research results in the form of scientific publications. But access to these publications is limited through many of the publishers that produce scientific articles charging large fees for the opportunity to read them. This business model hinders research, which to a large extent has been financed through government funds, from being of benefit to society.

Most research funding bodies today require that the research they fund is published with open access. But this is done using the business models of publishers as the starting point, and results in high costs. To change his, research funding bodies and higher education institutions have to be clear about both the time plan and the aims of the transfer to open access.

The plan presented today by Science Europe contains guidelines for how publication shall be done, and excludes publication in periodicals that use a subscription-based business model. The Swedish Research Council has not yet taken up a final position on Plan S, but we will discuss the issue at our upcoming board meeting in September. The aims stated in Plan S correspond to the aims formulated in the Swedish Research Council’s proposal for national guidelines for open access and in the Swedish Government’s Research Policy Bill of 2016. The doubts that exist concern the tight time plan stated, and the fact that the National Library of Sweden will report early next year on its mandate to clarify the implementation of open access. The Swedish Research Council therefore needs to reach a position on how the time plan and guidelines in Plan S relate to the discussions carried out nationally, and how the plan impacts on the research we are funding.

Sven Stafström, Director General, Swedish Research Council

About Science Europe

Science Europe is a collaboration between research funding bodies and research performers that monitors and drives research policy issues. The collaboration shall contribute to realising the European Research Area, ERA. The ERA is a vision within the EU of a strong research Europe, that is open to the world around it and where researchers, scientific knowledge and technology can move about freely.

Currently, 43 research funding bodies and research performers from 27 countries are participating. The participants from Sweden are the Swedish Research Council, Formas and Forte.

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