cOAlition S is delighted to see many publishers making moves to increase Open Access (OA) for research publications. However, some publishers’ practices still cause difficulties for authors who wish to exercise their right to make their Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) open access immediately on publication using the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy.
To address this issue, cOAlition S requests that publishers make their policies and contracts more transparent at the outset of the submission process. The request outlined in the letter that was sent today to a large number of publishers is intended to make publisher submission workflows and processes as clear and straightforward as possible for authors and to help them meet their pre-existing grant conditions.
There are three areas where publishers could make the publishing process significantly clearer and easier for authors. Specifically, we are asking publishers to ensure that authors are aware, at the point of submission, of the following:
1. The licence they will be asked to sign if their manuscript is accepted for publication
2. Any fees which will be levied if their manuscript is accepted for publication
3. Whether their manuscript will be re-routed to another journal as a result of any prior notice of re-use rights, which is included in the submission.
This request is in accord with COPE’s “Principles of Transparency” guidelines which calls, for example, for clarity in copyright and licensing and information pertaining to any publishing fees which may be levied.
Information regarding these issues should be displayed prominently on the publisher’s website, in any “information for authors” documentation, and in the submission system at the start of the process.
Making terms and conditions clear to the author at the outset will enable the author to make an informed decision whether to proceed with their submission or not. It will help avoid problems, such as authors being required to withdraw the manuscript after having gone through a lengthy peer review process, because of restrictions in how that work can be shared, or being forced to pay out of pocket to cover APCs.
To facilitate the process, cOAlition S has prepared a response form for the publishers to complete. The responses will be made available to our grantees to help inform their publishing decisions.
It is not just cOAlition S calling for publishers to make their policies and contracts more transparent. An open letter to researchers regarding the Rights Retention Strategy and publisher equivocation, published in April 2021, was widely supported by the research community, including the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER), the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (EURODOC), the Global Young Academy (GYA), the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) and the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA). A separate letter, signed by CESAER, European University Association (EUA) and Science Europe also called on publishers to make their licence conditions clear “to ensure that researchers make informed choices”.