The Future of Research: Assessing the impact of Plan S#

Plan S requires publications funded by public grants to be published in Open Access journals or platforms from 2021. An international symposium, organised by the AE Cardiff Hub with KU Leuven Libraries, assesses the impact of Plan S on researchers, research-intensive institutions, societies and publishers.#

Download the report(info).#

An international symposium on the impact of Plan S, organised by the AE Cardiff Knowledge Hub with KU Leuven Libraries, took place at KU Leuven on 5th-6th November 2019. An audience of around 130 gathered at the historic Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe. A distinguished panel of experts debated the prospects for researchers, universities, learned societies, academies and publishers. The event was chaired by Theo D’haen MAE, Editor of the European Review.

After a welcome by Professor Sierd Cloetingh MAE, President of Academia Europaea, and Dr Mangala Srinivas FYAE, Chair of Young Academy of Europe, the conference started with the keynote address by Professor Johan Rooryck MAE.

Professor Theo D’haen MAE

Professor Sierd Cloetingh MAE, President of Academia Europaea

Dr Mangala Srinivas FYAE

Keynote address#

Professor Johan Rooryck, Open Access Champion of cOAlition S delivered the keynote address Plan S: from principles to implementation(info). Professor Rooryck described the background to Plan S and its core benefits, mainly:

  • Plan S provides multiple routes towards open access compliance, along with the diversity of possible business models.
  • Strategies are being adopted towards achieving transformation, alongside the challenges that needed to be faced.
  • Plan S is working with a range of key stakeholders, such as researchers, libraries, publishers, learned societies, universities.
  • A Plan S governance structure and office will be in place early in 2020.

Audience questions covered issues such as the models adopted by other countries around the world, future pricing trends and power structures within the academic publishing sector.

Professor Johan Rooryck MAE

The keynote address

Panel 1: Impact of Plan S on early- and mid-career researchers#

Session Chair: Professor John Creemers, Director, Doctoral School for Biomedical Sciences, KU Leuven Gareth O’Neill, Plan S Ambassador
Véronique De Herde, Eurodoc representative and contact for Plan S
Dr Matthew DiFranco, Chair, Marie Curie Alumni Association
Professor Toma Susi, Vice-Chair, Young Academy of Europe

The major points made during this open discussion were:

  • The negative effect of the present research evaluation system and impact factors on early-career researchers, with criticism of the current narrow definition of quality.
  • DORA principles are important to early-career researchers but need to be implemented properly.
  • Many early-career researchers are not well-informed about Plan S, therefore clear communication is vital.
  • The possibility of alternative open publishing platforms was generally welcomed, as was a transition towards more open and transparent peer review processes.

Panel 1: Impact of Plan S on early- and mid-career researchers

Gareth O’Neill

Véronique De Herde

Dr Matthew DiFranco

Professor Toma Susi

Panel 2: Impact of Plan S on research-intensive institutions#

Session Chair: Professor Joos Vandewalle MAE, Open Science Ambassador, KU Leuven
Professor Reine Meylaerts, Vice-Rector Research Policy, KU Leuven
Plan S and a roadmap for Open Science(info)
Professor Nora de Leeuw MAE, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Cardiff University
The potential impact of Plan S from a researcher’s point of view(info)
Dr Ignasi Labastida i Juan, Chair, SPARC Europe Board
How to react to Plan S when your funders have not supported it yet?

This panel presented the main actions taken up by two research-institutions, KU Leuven and Cardiff University, as well as drawing attention to the delay of some countries in committing to Plan S:

  • KU Leuven is implementing a roadmap to open science, based on recommendations made by LERU in its report. Four working groups have been set up, reporting into an overall taskforce.
  • Cardiff University has signed up to the DORA principles and these are now embedded within promotion panels.
  • Spain is not supporting Plan S yet, adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.

The general audience discussion looked at research rankings, their impact on the publishing system and whether open access could positively impact European science.

Panel 2: Impact of Plan S on research-intensive institutions

Questions from the audience

Panel 3: Impact of Plan S on learned societies and academies#

Session Chair: Professor Genoveva Martí MAE, Vice-President, Academia Europaea
Wayne Sime, Chief Executive, The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP)
The ALPSP response to Plan S(info)
Professor Ole Petersen MAE, Vice-President, Academia Europaea
Threats and opportunities for Learned Society publications(info)
Professor Luke Drury MAE, ALLEA Board member and Past-President, Royal Irish Academy
Reclaiming traditional roles of academies in the digital age: the opportunity offered by Plan S(info)

The key themes covered in this session were:

  • A strong message from learned societies that income from their publishing activities goes into benefits for researchers, such as grants and training.
  • The change to publishing due to new technology, leading to a potential lack of infrastructure in learned societies to face the new challenges.
  • The experience of an international editor in setting up a new high-quality open access journal in the biomedical field.
  • Reflections on whether the traditional role of academies in publishing could be reclaimed in the digital age, given the potential threat posed by commercial publishers to control of every stage of the research process.
  • The need for the academy to fight back through the provision of open services.

Professor Ole Petersen during the open discussions
Professor Ole Petersen during the open discussions

Closing session: Where are we going?#

Session Chair: Hilde van Kiel, Director, KU Leuven Libraries
Matthew Day, Head of Open Research Policy & Partnerships, Cambridge University Press
Where is Cambridge University Press going, and what might happen on the way?
Hannah Wilson, Associate Publisher, F1000 Platforms
Adapting to Plan S: experiences from an open science publisher(info)
Dr Marc Schiltz, President, Science Europe
Why we needed to launch Plan S and where we go from here

The main messages for the future of open access were:

  • Publishers acknowledge that open research is steadily growing but believe they need to maintain a high level of investment in the publishing sector.
  • Science Europe emphasises that there is a pressing need for Plan S, driven by the lack of progress in freeing up content behind paywalls. Cooperation and alignment of policies, based on simple and strong principles, are essential.

The conference was free and open to all. It included a welcome beer reception at the historic University Library on the evening before the conference, kindly hosted by KU Leuven Libraries. Luc Sels, Rector of KU Leuven, Sierd Cloetingh, President of Academia Europaea, Hilde van Kiel, Director of KU Leuven Libraries and Professor Theo D’Haen, Chair of the symposium warmly welcomed the delegates.

The Belgium themed welcome reception

Sierd Cloetingh, Hilde van Kiel, Luc Sels and Theo D’haen

Guests enjoying the reception

University Library, KU Leuven


This event was a collaboration between the Academia Europaea Cardiff Knowledge Hub, KU Leuven Libraries, the Young Academy of Europe and Cardiff University.

Panellists and organisers of “The future of research: Assessing the impact of Plan S”

This event was generously supported by the Academia Europaea 2019 Hubert Curien Initiative Fund. We also acknowledge the support of ALLEA, ALPSP, CUP, F1000 Research, MCAA, SAPEA and WHEB.


Download the report(info).

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