This guest post is one of a series from sponsors of the OASPA Conference in 2019. Please note that the views in this post do not represent an official view or statement from OASPA. This post is by Emma Wilson of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is highly committed to increasing open access to high quality scholarly research, and playing our part in the transition by making Chemical Science and RSC Advances gold OA, investing in preprint server ChemRxiv and developing a Read & Publish model that helps institutions publish gold OA as standard.
We have a strong interest in the global development of open access and play an active role in the community – speaking with researchers, librarians, policymakers and other publishers across the world, as well as contributing to conferences and events like the upcoming OASPA conference. I was also recently elected to the OASPA board and I am really excited about serving and supporting the organisation.
Whether it’s the open access publication routes we provide for authors, or the messages we share with policymakers, we always aim to have the best interests of researchers at heart.
We often return to the same question: how can full open access scientific publishing be achieved with minimal negative impact on the researchers it should support? Researchers must be able to inform the answer, and there’s more to be done to amplify their voices.
We’ve been seeking out the views of researchers around open access and Plan S via a number of channels – gathering insights through interviews, workshops and surveys to inform our policy positions and business strategies. We give a platform to researchers with strong opinions about publishing – whether or not those opinions are easy to hear.
Some of the most important feedback we’ve had from researchers is that they support open access in principle, but when it comes to Plan S as a way to reach open access, many still are unaware of what it is and what it means for them. Researchers who shared thoughts on the impact they expect Plan S to have on their work and career mentioned:
- greater accessibility to research for them and others (including the general public)
- greater research visibility, and
- Plan S acting as a driver for further positive change in research culture.
The range of impacts reported by researchers were further debated during a panel discussion that we hosted on the release day of cOAlition S’ updated guidance on Plan S implementation. Three of our panellists were academic researchers in the chemical sciences, joined by an RSC-based policy expert – and together they explored the issues of open access and Plan S.
The discussion led to more in-depth insights about what some researchers consider the most challenging aspects of Plan S and, in some cases, the current status-quo in scholarly publishing:
- Some researchers are still concerned about limitations on the journals they can publish in – both in terms of how they’ll ensure they can continue to reach the right audience and how this might impact on early career researchers’ professional progress, as journal impact factors are a significant part of researcher evaluation processes across the world.
- Science is global, but Plan S is not. There have been positive developments in countries, but less in others – and so some researchers were concerned that international collaborations may be hampered by issues around where work can be published.
- Is Plan S in fact ‘rushed’? The conversation around moving to open access has been going on for decades, not months, but existing perceptions around journal prestige and researcher evaluation will take time to change. How can we encourage and coordinate these discussions?
- Science should not be controlled or driven by profits. Recognising that publishing revenues can benefit the community – in particular how learned societies direct their publishing surplus – our panel agreed we should be aiming for a future in which there are no fees for readers, nor authors.
Publishers generally have a great opportunity to promote the benefits of OA to our community and engage them in the transition, working together to mitigate risks and support researchers at each step. At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are continually gathering researcher opinion through surveys, workshops and events to evolve our own position – particularly recognising the differences in pace, funding and policy for OA transition in different regions around the world.
Dr Emma Wilson MRSC is the Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. She has nearly 20 years’ experience working in scholarly publishing. In her current role she has responsibility for the strategic development of the journals, books and databases portfolio. This includes working with the chemistry community and other stakeholders to shape and develop the Gold Open Access journals and our transformative Read & Publish agreements.
We are grateful to the Royal Society of Chemistry and all of our 2019 conference sponsors for their support.