There’s a petition going around, getting signed by researchers against Plan S. The petition claims that Plan S “is a serious violation of academic freedom”.
It sounds a tad extreme, but I can’t help but be reminded of Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological condition where hostages maintain a ” psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity” every time I peruse the open petition.
So I don’t want for one second wish to imply that publishers are any way the same thing as regular hostage takers, but I can’t help but think as researchers as captives, unable to break through the psychological barriers of tradition, status quo, prestige. They seem like prisoners, supporting their captors. Resisting change never helped anyone, and a radical change from outdated, unsustainable, publishing models is required, away from the very same publishing models that don’t benefit researchers, institutions or research funders.
Academic freedom, amongst other things, means that researchers have freedom of choice about deciding where to publish. But at what cost to research, to funds, to society? How many things have to suffer because someone prefers a certain brand of journal they want to be associated with? I urge researchers to look behind the name, the brand and ask how does me publishing in this journal actually benefit me? What are the author rights? Can people access my research? Remember it’s not just your peers that need to access your research – think of the possibilities and benefits to the world at large. There is more to researchers’ principles than academic freedom, there is academic responsibility. A responsibility to get research out there, a dedication to open science – not only the release of articles from behind paywalls but of open data too. And Plan S can preserve academic freedom, researchers will still have a plethora of open access journals/platforms to choose from that will serve researchers better. The prison door is open, all researchers have to do is walk through it.