Quebec aligns with Europe on open-access publishing

Mark Mann
January 8, 2020

Quebec is working closely with France and the EU to craft a version of Plan S, the European-born initiative to mandate immediate open access to publicly-funded research. Quebec’s chief scientist Rémi Quirion told RE$EARCH MONEY that the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) is meeting with Marc Schiltz, president of Science Europe and a key designer of Plan S, to help craft a made-in-Quebec version of the plan, hopefully to be announced later this year.

“We are quite late in Quebec and in Canada,” Quirion said. “We are quite a bit behind France, the European Union and Great Britain, in terms of open science and access to publications. We want to catch up.”

Although Quebec implemented a policy on open access in 2019, requiring that peer-reviewed publications resulting from FRQ-funded research must be made accessible within 12 months of publication, the guidelines aren’t being adequately enforced, says Quirion. ”We have a policy but no teeth. Even if people don’t follow it, nobody knows. Now we want to change that and promote more open-access publication, access to science and data.” The Quebec policy is in line with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, created in 2015, but compliance has been an issue with federally funded research as well.

The final version of Plan S in Europe has yet to be determined, but the leaders of the movement remain ambitious. At a recent 80th anniversary celebration in Paris, the CEO of Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Antoine Petit, said that he wants 100% of publications supported by CNRS to be open access before the end of 2020. “I doubt they will reach that goal, but by being extremely ambitious, you get things moving,” observed Quirion. “Otherwise you’re in the same place five years from now.”

Quebec’s next steps on open access publishing are still to be determined, but Quirion is hopeful the three boards comprised by the FRQ — Nature et technologies (FRQNT), Société et Culture (FRQSC), and Santé (FRQS) — will move forward with a version of Plan S. ”We may have to adapt some parts of the European plan to the Canadian and Quebec scene, but overall, it would be relatively similar to what we see at the European level.”

For Quirion, evolving the model of research publication is an imperative. “A great percentage of research is supported by public funds. It’s our taxes,” he said. “To give back to our citizens, it’s just fair.”


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