Plan S, designed by the former EU Commissioner Robert-Jan Smits, became a complete and chaotic mess where everyone, including the members of the signatory cOAlition S of research founders, does whatever they want. I learned all that while participating at the Academic Publishing Europe (APE) conference in Berlin, on 15-16 January.
Frontiers is a somewhat unconventional open access publisher, which likes to have it both ways: playing scientific elite while accepting almost anything from paying customers. My regular contributor Smut Clyde will tell you below how some anti-vaccine scare-mongers managed to sneak in some rather dangerous works thanks to Frontiers’ unofficial “we don’t judge, we just charge” quasi-policy.
I obtained from the EU commission evidence that Smits was at least strongly influenced by Frontiers while designing Plan S. There were meetings with Kamila Markram and other Frontiers representatives, most notably on 25 April 2018, and a string of emails, where Smits requested and received “Frontiers feedback on the transition to OA and APCs”. Updates at the end of this article supply evidence that not only Frontiers did advise Smits on Plan S from spring 2018 on, they were the only stakeholder to do so.
A new Open Letter against Plan S appeared on the internet. Presently over 600 scientists are protesting against what they see as a bit totalitarian Open Access initiative by Robert-Jan Smits and his partners from Science Europe. Among the Open Letter signatories are many early career researchers and tenured academics, including two Nobelists.
Research by German journalists revealed whole lists of German academics engaging in predatory publishing and scamferences. Named on over 60 predatory conference papers is Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Rector of the University of Bremen and former Vice-President of DFG. Several such papers are even self-plagiarised, and were used in DFG project reports and Scholz-Reiter’s rectorship application from 2011
I obtained a near-verbatim transcript of a video-conference Plan S architects Robert-Jan Smits and Science Europe president Marc Schiltz had on October 19th with Lynn Kamerin and other authors of the Appeal. It appears that Smits and Schiltz see the scientists and their scholarly societies as the reactionary elements blocking the road to the universal Open Access (OA).
This is Appeal by several European scientists protesting against Plan S, recently revealed by the EU and a coalition of European research funders. Lynn Kamerlin and her coauthors worry that Plan S will deprive them of quality journal venues and of international collaborative opportunities, while disadvantaging scientists whose research budgets preclude paying and playing in this OA league. They offer instead their own suggestions how to implement Open Science.
Frontiers describes itself as “a community-rooted, open-access academic publisher”, and boasts a ~71,000 head strong “virtual editorial office”. This guest post by Regina-Michaela Wittich, a former senior editor of a Frontiers journal, narrates how she was sacked by Frontiers because she rejected too many papers for being of insufficient scientific quality, instead of sending them into the “rigorous” Frontiers peer review process