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For learned societies, Plan S must be about more than money

For the transition to open access, societies’ scholarly communities matter more than their business models, says Aileen Fyfe.

Many members of learned societies sympathise with the ambition to share research widely, efficiently and equitably. But they are equally concerned about the impact that open access might have on the finances of their societies. Plan S, a global effort by research funders to mandate open-access publishing from 2020, makes these tensions more urgent.

It is, therefore, good news that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, has commissioned consultants to investigate how to help learned society publishers transition to open access, and develop a business model that will enable them to thrive under Plan S. But a successful transition should involve engaging with societies as societies, and not simply as a sub-group of publishers.

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