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Signatories publish statement on Rights Retention Strategy 

3rd February 2021

Each of the undersigned publishers and societies have long been committed to Open Research and the broadening of Open Access options for researchersThey offer a wide variety of paths to Open Access, including Open Access journals, hybrid journal options, article self-archiving, and transformative (including Read & Publish) deals. The signatories to this statement are innovating and experimenting with flexible and sustainable mechanisms for authors to make their works as widely available as possible, whilst maintaining the highest standards of quality and integrity, discoverability and usability.  

As of January 2021, a group of private funding agencies and European governmental funding agencies called “cOAlition S” has begun implementing a set of principles designed to ensure that all scholarly publications resulting from their funding are published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.  

The undersigned share with cOAlition S the goal to expand Open Research and are committed to supporting cOAlition S-funded researchers through the various paths provided for Open AccessHowever, we are unable to support one route to compliance offered by Plan S, the “Rights Retention Strategy, in its current form. The Rights Retention Strategy provides a challenge to the vital income that is necessary to fund the resources, time, and effort to provide not only the many checks, corrections, and editorial inputs required but also the management and support of a rigorous peer review process, a process that is of fundamental value and is essential to the verification of results 

The Rights Retention Strategy ignores long-standing academic freedoms and will work against the shared objective of a more open and equitable scholarly ecosystem. It provides an immediate free substitute that eliminates the ability to charge for the services that publishers provide, whether via subscriptions or Article Publishing Charges. As such, the Rights Retention Strategy is not financially sustainable and undermines potential support for open access journals. Additionally, it will undermine the integrity of the Version of Record, which is the foundation of the scientific record, and its associated codified mechanisms for corrections, retractions and data disclosure. 

While many publishers, including some of the undersigned, are able to provide options that allow authors to post versions of articles to repositories with broad reuse license, to be sustainable this is a decision that needs to be applied at the level of individual journals, not through blanket policies. The signatory publishers therefore oppose the approach of the Rights Retention Strategy in its current form and urge authors to consult with their journals of choice as to what is allowed. 

The undersigned publishers pledge to do everything possible to support the research community and the right to communicate research results in the venue that each researcher will find most relevant for their work. Our commitment to broadening Open Access is a sincere one, but it must ensure that the vital process of verification and trust in science is maintained to a high standard