Launch of the Plan S Price Transparency Framework Scoping Project

cover image for price and service transparency report


by Alicia Wise and Lorraine Estelle

We are today launching the new Plan S Price Transparency Framework which is the outcome of a very challenging nine-month project on behalf of cOAlition S. The framework has two parts (a data collection spreadsheet and implementation guide) and we are also publishing recommendations to stakeholders flowing from the recent pilot project.

Why does Plan S contain a requirement for price transparency?

The first iteration of Plan S published by cOAlition S in 2018 had a focus on setting a maximum price that the funders were prepared to pay publishers for open access publishing services. In the second iteration published in 2019, cOAlition S decided not to standardise and cap the reimbursement of these services. cOAlition S has signalled a willingness to financially support publication fees that are fair and reasonable. More information is needed from publishers for customers to reach a view about what is fair and reasonable.

Providing this information is an opportunity for publishers to repair a breakdown in trust, to be responsive to customers, to demonstrate their commitment to open business models and business cultures, to build awareness of their services and value, and to qualify for OA service funding under Plan S.

For customers, funders, libraries and researchers, using the information is an opportunity to better understand if the fees you pay are commensurate with the open publication services promised and received, and to better understand those services. Institutions will also be able to use these data to inform discussions with researchers, for example to offer advice about publishing options. Much of this information is already available to customers, but this framework will lower their costs of accessing and comparing the information and will therefore aid competition.

Having the information in a central standardised way will help customers enormously, and we are delighted that cOAlition S has set a date by which it will communicate the next steps on service provision.

We hope that the Plan S Price Transparency Framework we have developed will enable conversations and comparisons that will build confidence amongst customers that prices are fair and reasonable. Ultimately, it will enable publishers to communicate the price of services in a way that is transparent, practical to implement, and insightful.

So many people have contributed to the success of this project, and they are acknowledged in the project report and implementation guide. We would especially like to call-out members of our robust Steering Group (Ivy Anderson, Chris Banks, Rachel Bruce, Liam Earney, Sarah Greaves, Hannah Hope, Steven Inchcoombe, Robert Kiley, Jasmin Lange, Falk Reckling, and Arthur Smith) and those publishers who piloted the framework (Annual Reviews, Brill, The Company of Biologists, EMBO Press, European Respiratory Society, F1000 Research, Hindawi, IOP Publishing, PLOS, and Springer Nature). Thank you all very much indeed!

Publishers, please join us for a free webinar to learn more about the Plan S Transparency Framework and the experience of those who have piloted it.