16 Mar 2020   |   Network Updates

Frontiers: Call for full, immediate and transparent open access to scientific publications


Science should be open, so that we all might lead healthier lives on a sustainable planet. At Frontiers, all our publications are accessible for free by anyone anywhere in the world from the day of publication. This Open Access (OA) model of scientific publishing – which has been shown to increase the reach and impact of the scientific results as demonstrated by consistently higher usage rates (e.g. citations and downloads) – has been embraced and supported by a growing number of public institutions such as funders, universities and libraries, who have introduced rules to support the transition from a system of scholarly communications that still largely relies on paywalls, to a fully open one (e.g. Plan S).

Over that past decade and longer, pure OA publishers have demonstrated that open science works by having already successfully provided these the services to authors; and policy makers have taken note. Now, in order to support more traditional publishers to change their subscription-based models to OA, a number of so called ‘Transformative Agreements’ – also referred to as ‘Publish and Read’ deals – have been signed between national library consortia and large publishers in recent months.

Transformative agreements – if truly transformative – would be an effective instrument to support the transition to OA. But to do so there are key transformative elements that must be present. For an agreement to be considered as “transformative”, it must contain binding conditions or mechanisms that (1) guarantee the full transition to 100% OA within a defined, short timeframe and (2) guarantee that the process cannot be easily reversed or cancelled at the end of the contractual period. The agreement should encompass all the publisher’s titles and include OA to legacy content.

Frontiers is concerned that recent large scale Publish and Read deals lack the transformative conditions that are necessary to bring about the transition to OA. In a joint position paper, a group of pure OA publishers call out the weak transformative potential of these large-scale agreements. Agreements of this type tie up large sums of public funding, they do not provide full OA to all the publishers’ content and they do not contain a binding commitment to do so within a defined period.

The joint position paper by Copernicus, JMIR, MDPI, Ubiquity Press and Frontiers offers an alternative solution: agreements with publishers that are already fully committed to open science and who offer full, immediate and transparent Open Access.

Read the position paper here

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up