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Open season

Backed by UKRI, Plan S will shake up publishing, says Sarah Richardson.

As academics returned to their institutions this week, hopefully revived after at least some sort of summer break, research policy news also returned with a bang. On Tuesday, UK Research and Innovation became one of 11 national funders to sign up to a major push for open-access publishing.

The initiative, dubbed Plan S and trailed at the EuroScience Open Forum in July, is Europe’s answer to the perennially slow transition towards making scientific research results freely available. Under this week’s agreement, UKRI, together with a clutch of other European national funders and the European Research Council, has committed to mandating the immediate open-access publication of research it funds by 2020, and introducing measures to make this happen. For UKRI, this dramatically toughens a policy inherited from its constituent research councils, which favoured so-called gold open access, but allowed green, enabling publishers to embargo work. And in any case, compliance left much to be desired.

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