Portugal, via the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education, and also, particularly, via FCT, welcomes the Plan S European initiative promoted by Science Europe, recognising its importance especially for defending the principle of immediate open access to the results of publicly funded research.
A leading country in the international open access movement, Portugal has been at the forefront in the implementation of mechanisms directed towards the availability of research publications in open access, setting up infrastructures and issuing referential frameworks and institutional regulations since the early 2000s.
The commitment of Science to the principles and practices of Open Science is a priority for MCTES, as stated in the Guiding principles towards Open Science, published in February 2016, and in the Resolution of the Council of Ministers number 21/2016, of 11 April 2016. This document laid down the guidelines for the establishment of a National Open Science Policy, namely open access to publications and data arising from publicly funded research and the guarantee for the preservation of research publications and data to allow attributing them heritage status and properly enable their reuse and continued access.
Portugal, via FCT, has been a forerunner in the implementation of actions and measures aiming at the transition to an Open Science environment, some of which are now adopted in Plan S. For instance, FCT’s Open Access Policy envisaged the introduction of price caps to Article Processing Charges (APC’s) and required granting an open license to research publications in order for associated APC’s to be eligible, whereas the Regulation for the Evaluation of R&D Units introduced provisions preventing the use of metrics (e.g. Journal Impact Factor) to assess the merit of the evaluated Units and encouraging the development of research data management plans.
To this end, FCT declares its support to Plan S’s objectives. FCT will actively collaborate towards their achievement and recommends that Plan S’s shaping and implementation program is widely discussed, most importantly with the scientific community, to ensure an effective, equitable and sustainable transition towards Open Science, in pursuit of the key principles that are its inspiration and guidance. In the framework of these discussions, the following essential criteria should be taken into account:
- To take into consideration and to value existing repositories’ networks, taking advantage of the resources they incorporate and capitalising on the investments made, acknowledging that Green Open Access can be a useful and legitimate route to the immediate and unrestricted availability of published scientific information. This should be done with the simultaneous strengthening of the mechanisms of author’s copyright retention;
- To ensure that transition models, specifically through the Gold Open Access route, do not reinforce the monopolistic nature of the scholarly publishing market. It is therefore crucial to implement price caps to APC’s;
- To reinforce mechanisms for positive incentives within research evaluation and funding systems, while respecting the diversity and the specific characteristics and practices of all scientific areas and disciplinary fields;
- To recognize and adapt models of open access publishing to new forms of creating and communicating science, giving priority to open infrastructures and services that allow their portability and supporting repositories and other platforms and services originating in academic communities.
FCT believes that a careful implementation of Plan S will be a significant step towards Open Access, as the scholarly communication system by default, and a strong driver for Open Science as a whole, with its immense potential to bring relevant benefits for Science and Society, some of which are already materialising.