Debattartikel EN

Leading Swedish researchers appeal to research councils: Withdraw support for Plan S

”Sweden is a leading research nation. This is a position we will defend.” That was the clear message from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in the new government’s political declaration of January 21st. At the same time, three key research councils in Sweden – Forte, Formas, and RJ – have ventured to undermine this ambition. They have all signed ’Plan S’, which implies that the research they finance cannot any longer be published in the best scientific journals. This is an unprecedented limitation of academic freedom, which critically threatens the quality and competitiveness of Swedish research.

New research findings are sorted and filtrated to readers through scientific journals. Over a long time, an eco-system has developed that is differentiated by subject matter and reputation. For studies to reach the research frontier it is essential that they are published in prominent journals within the relevant field. Such journals has normally built their reputation over many decades, finding it easy to get highly qualified reviewers and high-quality manuscript to evaluate.

Why would Plan S then want to inhibit researchers’ opportunities to publish in these journals? The reason put forward is that research should be possible to read without costs, that is, via Open Access (OA). But this is not a sufficient argument, because OA can be combined with publication in well-established journals through ‘hybrid publication’ (OA in a subscription journal), or by uploading manuscripts to open archives. Plan S puts severe limits to these popular examples of OA. Researchers are categorically prohibited to use grants from the supporting research councils for publication in hybrid journals, and publications in archives are only permitted if (1) the author accepted manuscripts are archived without embargo, that is, are uploaded immediately; (2) there is a CC-BY licence allowing for commercial use of the publication; (3) the archive meets exceptionally high technical demands. Few if any top journals would be willing to agree to these requirements, for understandable reasons.

In fact, Plan S is essentially about forcing researchers to publish in pure OA journals. These have no subscription fees and no paywalls. But because publication costs still have to be covered, OA journals typically charge a fee for publication (pay-to-publish). Serious and high quality OA journals are still uncommon. A Norwegian investigation shows that for around 75% of all disciplines there are actually none at all. OA journals normally publish a very high proportion of all manuscripts they get, more often have a weaker editorial filtration, and are therefore on average of substantially lower quality. The research councils know this, but hope that Plan S will force existing high quality journals to ‘flip’ to the pay-to-publish model – something that is entirely unrealistic as the research councils that have signed Plan S stand for a very small part of the world’s research output.

The current publication system is far from perfect – a well-known problem is the high subscription costs that need to be cut. But the fact that the system has problems does not mean that anything would be preferable, and Plan S is unfortunately a hastily made attempt based on wishful thinking. Because Plan S signatories are too few to challenge the global publication system we will get a dual system, in which most researchers publish as usual while those who are forced to follow Plan S are disadvantaged. Important research will not gain the influence it deserves, young researchers’ career opportunities risk being stifled, and Swedish researchers become less attractive for collaboration with international partners. In addition it is questionable whether grants should be used for promoting journals that charge for publishing – partly because it gives financial incentives to reduce scientific standards (more publications mean more money), partly because it makes publication opportunities dependent on the economy of researchers and their institutions.

We join the growing body of critics of Plan S – in Sweden represented by, for example, Karolinska Institute, Sweden’s Young Academy, and a large number of academics signing an open letter. Research councils should support research of high quality, and must have the trust of the research community. Forte, Formas, and RJ have signed a subversive and ill thought out plan without a dialogue with the research community and with no evidence-based consideration of either the economic consequences or the effects on research quality and equality. Researchers are now expected to quietly accept this model and give feedback on how it should be implemented. But we cannot agree on principles that severely threaten the quality and the competitiveness of Swedish research. Therefore, we appeal to Forte, Formas, and RJ to withdraw their support for Plan S.

Jan O Jonsson, professor i sociologi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Peter Hedström, professor i analytisk sociologi, föreståndare för IAS, Linköpings universitet. Ledamot av KVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Gustaf Arrhenius, professor i praktisk filosofi, Stockholms universitet och vd för Institutet för Framtidsstudier

Carina Mood, professor i sociologi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet

Gunnar Andersson, professor i demografi, Stockholms universitet

Tommy Bengtsson, professor i demografi och ekonomisk historia, Lunds universitet

Tomas Berglund, professor i sociologi, Göteborgs universitet

Mats Bergman, professor i nationalekonomi, Södertörns högskola

Erik Bihagen, professor i sociologi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet

Annika Björkdahl, professor i statsvetenskap, Lunds Universitet

Krister Bykvist, professor i praktisk filosofi, Stockholms universitet

Lars Bäckman, professor i kognitiv neurovetenskap, ARC, Karolinska institutet. Ledamot av KVA

Karin Bäckstrand, professor i statsvetenskap, Stockholms universitet

Barbara Cannon, professor i fysiologi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Mikael Carlsson, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet

Anna Dreber Almenberg, professor i nationalekonomi, Handelshögskolan i Stockholm. Ledamot av Sveriges unga akademi

Martin Dribe, professor i ekonomisk historia, Lunds universitet

David Domeij, professor i nationalekonomi, Handelshögskolan i Stockholm

Ann-Zofie Duvander, professor i demografi, Stockholms universitet

Per-Anders Edin, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet

Tore Ellingsen, professor i nationalekonomi, Handelshögskolan i Stockholm. Ledamot av KVA

Matti Eklund, professor i teoretisk filosofi, Uppsala universitet

Lars Engwall, professor i företagsekonomi, Uppsala universitet. Ledamot av KVA, IVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Robert Erikson, professor i sociologi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA. Tidigare huvudsekreterare för FAS (nuvarande FORTE)

Maria Feychting, professor i epidemiologi, Karolinska Institutet

Peter Fredriksson, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Johan Fritzell, professor i socialgerontologi, föreståndare för ARC, Karolinska institutet

Ulf Gedde, professor i polymera material, KTH

Kathrin Glüer, professor i teoretisk filosofi, Stockholms universitet

Nils Gottfries, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet

Anne Grönlund, professor i sociologi, Umeå universitet

Jan-Eric Gustafsson, professor i pedagogik, Göteborgs universitet. Ledamot av KVA.

Peter Gärdenfors, professor i kognitionsvetenskap, Lunds universitet. Ledamot av KVA, IVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Curt Hagquist, professor i folkhälsovetenskap, Karlstads universitet

Mats Hammarstedt, professor i nationalekonomi, Linnéuniversitetet

Anandi Hattiangadi, professor i filosofi, Stockholms universitet

Tomas Hellström, professor i innovation och entreprenörskap, Lunds universitet

Magnus Henrekson, professor i nationalekonomi och vd för Institutet för Näringslivsforskning

Erland Hjelmquist, professor i psykologi, Göteborgs universitet. Tidigare huvudsekreterare för FAS (nuvarande FORTE)

Mikael Hjerm, professor i sociologi, Umeå universitet

Martin Hällsten, professor i sociologi, Stockholms universitet

Merle Jacob, professor i forskningspolitik, Lunds universitet. Medlem i EUs expertgrupp om Open Science Indicators

Mattias Jakobsson, professor i genetik, Uppsala universitet

Stefan Jansson, professor i växters cell- och molekylärbiologi, Umeå universitet, Ledamot i KVA och IVA

Arne Jarrick, professor i historia, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA och Vitterhetsakademien.

Jörgen Johansson, professor i molekylär mikrobiologi, Umeå universitet

Mats Johansson, professor i polymerteknologi, KTH

Henrik Jordahl, professor i nationalekonomi, Örebro universitet

Markus Jäntti, professor i nationalekonomi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet

Thomas Kaiserfeld, professor i ide- och lärdomshistoria, Lunds universitet

Lynn Kamerlin, professor i strukturbiologi, Uppsala universitet. Medlem i EUs expertgrupp om Open Science Indicators

Catarina Kinnvall, professor i statsvetenskap, Lunds universitet

Kristian Kristiansen, professor i arkeologi, Göteborgs universitet

Jan Komorowski, professor i bioinformatik, Uppsala universitet. Ledamot av Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab och Norges Tekniske Vitenskapsakademi

Annica Kronsell, professor i statsvetenskap, Göteborgs universitet

Per Krusell, professor i nationalekonomi, IIES, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Mikael Lindahl, professor i nationalekonomi, Göteborgs universitet

Staffan I. Lindberg, professor i statsvetenskap, föreståndare för V-Dem Institute, Göteborgs universitet. Ledamot av Sveriges unga akademi

Torun Lindholm, professor i psykologi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av Vitterhetsakademien

Erik Lindqvist, professor i nationalekonomi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet

Karin Ljung, professor i växtfysiologi, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

Bo Malmberg, professor i kulturgeografi, Stockholms universitet

Staffan Marklund, professor i arbetshälsovetenskap, Karolinska institutet

Anna-Sofia Maurin, professor i teoretisk filosofi, Göteborgs universitet

Bitte Modin, professor i medicinsk sociologi, Stockholms universitet

Eva Mörk, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet

Ulrika Mörth, professor i statsvetenskap, Stockholms universitet

Jan Nedergaard, professor i fysiologi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Magnus Nermo, professor i sociologi, Stockholms universitet

Jens Nielsen, professor i systembiologi, Chalmers. Ledamot av KVA och IVA

Lennart Nilsson, professor i molekylär modellering, Karolinska institutet

Oskar Nordström Skans, professor i nationalekonomi, Uppsala universitet

Lars Nyberg, professor i psykologi och neurovetenskap, Umeå universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Peter Pagin, professor i teoretisk filosofi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Joakim Palme, professor i statsvetenskap, Uppsala universitet. Ledamot av Vitterhetsakademien

Mårten Palme, professor i nationalekonomi, Stockholms universitet

Nancy Pedersen, professor i genetisk epidemiologi, Karolinska institutet

Torsten Persson, professor i nationalekonomi, IIES, Stockholms universitet. ledamot av KVA, IVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Wlodek Rabinowicz, professor i praktisk filosofi, Lunds universitet. Ledamot av KVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Bo Reimer, professor i medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap, Malmö universitet

Ann-Margret Rydell, professor i psykologi, Uppsala universitet

Kerstin Sahlin, professor i företagsekonomi, Uppsala universitet. Ledamot av KVA, IVA och Vitterhetsakademien

Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann, professor i estetik, Uppsala universitet

Mårten Schultz, professor i civilrätt, Stockholms universitet

Maria Stanfors, professor i ekonomisk historia, Lunds universitet

Mattias Strandh, professor i socialt arbete, Umeå universitet

Marianne Sundström, professor i arbetsmarknadsekonomi, SOFI, Stockholms universitet

Villy Sundström, professor i kemisk fysik, Lunds universitet

Jakob Svensson, professor i nationalekonomi, IIES, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Staffan Svärd, professor i mikrobiologi, Uppsala universitet

Fredrik Söderbaum, professor i freds- och utvecklingsforskning, Göteborgs universitet

Irene Söderhäll, professor i jämförande immunologi, Uppsala universitet

Kenneth Söderhäll, professor i jämförande fysiologi, Uppsala universitet

Jonas Tallberg, professor i statsvetenskap, Stockholms universitet

Folke Tersman, professor i praktisk filosofi, Uppsala universitet

Elizabeth Thomson, professor i demografi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Michael Tjernström, professor i meteorologi, MISU, Stockholms universitet

Jonas Vlachos, professor i nationalekonomi, Stockholms universitet

Denny Vågerö, professor i medicinsk sociologi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Hugo Westerlund, professor i epidemiologi, Stressforskningsinstitutet, Stockholms universitet

Dag Westerståhl, professor i teoretisk filosofi och logik, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Åsa Wikforss, professor i teoretisk filosofi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, professor i kemisk biologi, Chalmers. Ledamot av KVA

Barbara Wohlfarth, professor i kvartärgeologi, Stockholms universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Anders Ynnerman, professor i vetenskaplig visualisering, Linköpings universitet. Ledamot av KVA

Rune Åberg, professor i sociologi, Umeå universitet. Tidigare huvudsekreterare för FAS (nuvarande FORTE). Ledamot av Vitterhetsakademien

Viveca Östberg, professor i sociologi, Stockholms universitet