Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the ground-shaking new ‘Plan-S’ open access commitments, a critical look at the ‘moral high ground’ of academia, and open access: the movie.

Ground-shaking open access policy announced by 11 EU funders via Science Europe

The ground shook this week with the announcement by 11 major European research funders, including the European Commission and UK Research and Innovation, that they would be introducing an all-encompassing open access policy. This mandates that, from 2020, all research they fund is published either under a CC BY licence in a compliant open access journal or hosted on a freely accessible repository immediately upon publication in a paywalled journal. The announcement has sent many publishers reeling, as hybrid journals will be considered non-compliant. As such, many journal publishers will need to make major changes to their business models if they are to receive submissions from the thousands of researchers funded by these institutions. The policy has been generally well-received in the open science community, who have congratulated the boldness of the policy. To give an idea of just how big an impact this policy will have, Bianca Kramer of Utrecht University Library has put together a brief analysis of the current publishing patterns of involved institutions, which suggests that less than half of the research currently published by these institutions would be compliant under the new policy.

Does academia deserve its ‘moral high ground’? via The Guardian

Many academics leaving their labs to join industry-funded research roles are branded ‘sell-outs’ for crossing to the ‘dark side’ of industry-sponsored research – but just how saintly is academic research in the first place? Not very, suggests the author of this piece in the Guardian. Having worked in both academic and industry labs, the author suggests that industry-sponsored labs can not only be nicer places to work with better opportunities for female researchers, but also often undertake better publishing practices.

Open access – the movie via Nature

Open Science has hit the silver screen this week, with the release of the documentary Paywall: the business of scholarship. The documentary takes a look at the drive towards open access and the potential problems surrounding paywalled research. This review by journalist Richard Podnyer defines the piece as an ‘advocacy film’ that can neglect some of the finer nuances of problems surrounding open access. His overall conclusion, however, is that the film does a good job of highlighting issues with access to research in the current publishing environment.

California legislature passes open access mandate for state-funded research via Electronic Frontier Foundation

The California legislature this week passed their open access bill unanimously through both houses of the legislature, sending it on to Governor Jerry Brown to sign into law. The law is the first of its kind for any US state, requiring all research funded by the state of California to be made available open access within a year of first publication. Proponents of the law say that this is just the start and have longer term goals to reduce the permitted embargo period.