In What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020, Diana Kwon, a Berlin-based freelance journalist, offers her predictions for the coming year in publishing.
The global push for open access has ramped up in recent years, with efforts from both academic institutions and funding agencies to make more of their content freely available to the public. There were some major developments in 2019—and there are likely to be more in 2020. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in the coming year.
Funder-driven open-access demands
Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.
In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media.
Whether the executive order will come to fruition remains to be seen in the new year. If it does, it wouldn’t be the first funder-driven push for open-access: Last year, a group of European funding agencies calling themselves cOAlition S launched a plan to mandate strict rules to make research published by grantees immediately and freely available to the public. The initiative, which was dubbed Plan S and is set to launch in 2021, has been both praised and criticized by members of the academic community.
Although the coalition has managed to gain some international members, the overall response to Plan S has been lukewarm outside of Europe. India’s government, for example, decided to forgo joining the coalition and develop its own national effort to advance open access, despite earlier indications that it would be joining the group. In Latin America, where Argentina has joined cOAlition S, academicshave raised concerns about the initiative’s focus on pay-for-publishing models. One worry is that if funders or universities are required to cover fees for publishing open access in commercial journals, financial resources could be diverted from their current system, under which journals are free to publish in and free to read—and scientific publications are owned by academic institutions…”
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