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Open Access: update on plan S

It’s been almost six months since cOAlition S, an international group of research funders, launched Plan S for accelerating the transition to open access. All scientific publications that result from research funded by coalition members must immediately be open access from 2020 onwards. NWO is one of cOAlition S’s growing group of currently 17 research funders. In the Netherlands, Plan S concerns about 20% of all scientific publications.

What has happened since the launch of Plan S?

The launch consisted of Plan S’s 10 key principles, and was followed up 12 weeks later with guidance on the implementation of Plan S. Plan S fired a fierce debate in many countries. Researchers are generally in favour of open access, but many expressed concerns with the path towards it as formulated in Plan S: Can we still publish in the top journals in our field? Will early-career researchers pay the price in the current evaluation system that focuses on impact factors? Will society journals be hindered in their efforts to advance science? Can we still collaborate with researchers who are not funded by cOAlition-S members? And is the quality of our scientific publications at stake?

NWO invited researchers to send their feedback and received myriad forms with concerns and possible solutions. In January, NWO organized a consultation meeting in cooperation with ZonMw, KNAW, and the association of Dutch universities (VSNU). The main outcomes of this meeting reflect the concerns that were previously expressed by researchers. The outcomes address: the expected timeframe for implementation; financial issues; participation of the rest of the world in Plan S; changes to the assessment system in research; the need for a solution that is not one-size-fits-all across disciplines and that doesn’t only focus on pay-to-publish models; the need to safeguard quality; the position of learned societies; the strict requirements for university repositories and transformative deals with publishers; the position of unfunded research; and the position of books and monographs.

What will happen now?

NWO has acknowledged that the broadest possible support is crucial for making Plan S a success, and states that “considerable efforts have to be made to address the many questions and worries that the scientific community still has at this point” (conclusion main outcomes consultation meeting, 2019). NWO will submit the main outcomes of the consultation meeting to cOAlition S, complementary to the feedback submitted by individuals and organizations from the Netherlands, including the VSNU Statement on Plan S. The executive board of NWO expects that this will all be addressed in the proposed revision of the implementation document. COAlition S recently announced that an initial analysis of the feedback will be released in the spring, and that all feedback responses will be made openly available.

What is the university’s stand?

The University of Twente shares the opinion of all Dutch universities, as expressed in the VSNU Statement on Plan S: We support the objectives of Plan S, but recognize the concerns among scientists in particular. Before Plan S can make the desired contribution to our open-access ambitions, these concerns must be properly addressed.

More information

For updates on Plan S, visit the News section on our website

For practical information about your options to publish open access as a UT author, visit

Any questions? Please email our university’s Specialist Open Access, Nicole Loorbach.