World Health Organization Backs Open-Access Plan S
World Health Organization Backs Open-Access Plan S

World Health Organization Backs Open-Access Plan S

The agency joins a group of funders, cOAlition S, that supports making publications immediately available to the public for free.

Sep 4, 2019
Kerry Grens

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The World Health Organization is joining cOAlition S, a growing group of agencies and charities that fund scientific research and that require their grantees to share their work in open-access journals or repositories. The coalition’s so-called Plan S aims to implement the open-access requirement for all of their funded research beginning January 1, 2021.

“There are numerous challenges for researchers, and sadly, one of these is limited access to current science literature. Thanks to the Plan S initiative, this will soon no longer remain a barrier to good research,” Charles Mgone, the vice chancellor of Hubert Kairuki Memorial University in Tanzania, says in a WHO press release on August 29. Of WHO’s $4.4 billion budget this year, around $50 million is dedicated to tropical disease research and $68 million to research in human reproduction.

See “Plan S: The Ambitious Initiative to End the Reign of Paywalls

cOAlition S began a year ago with 11 national funding agencies in Europe, and has grown to include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Jordan’s Higher Council for Science and Technology, and the National Science and Technology Council in Zambia, among others. In addition to the open-access publishing requirement, Plan S asks funders to sanction grantees who don’t comply and to foot the bill for publishing fees.

Plan S will allow for scientists to publish in so-called hybrid journals, which host both open-access and paywalled articles, as long as grantees’ papers are freely available to the public.

Some publishers balked at Plan S when it was first announced, and hundreds of scientists signed an open letter saying it violates academic freedom.

See “Open-Access Program Plan S Relaxes Rules

Kerry Grens is a senior editor and the news director at The Scientist. Email her at kgrens@the-scientist.com.