Plan S. What Does it Mean for Physiotherapy Research?

As we’ve discussed on Physiospot before, we aren’t fans of paywalls. They are prohibitively expensive and delay us accessing the crucial information we need to improve the lives of our patients. Currently we have to either wait for research to become available for free, or use tools like unPaywall to help us find what we are looking for.

But things could be about to change thanks to a major victory last week; Plan S.

What is unPaywall?

Impactstory is an open-source website which is not-for-profit and committed to open source free and open data for all. They have taken up the fight against paywalled articles by creating an extension for Chrome or Firefox internet browsers called Unpaywall.

Plan S?

Plan S is a decisive plan towards making publicly funded research in Europe  open access at point of first publication. The plan was developed by Science Europe and has been agreed by 11 research funders across Europe. The vision is the quote below and it’s both ambitious and exciting.

After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms. – Science Europe
The final ‘logistical’ details of ‘Plan S’ will be published when completed. This is so far an unspecified date in the future. But considering we are closing in on 2019 we can expect to hear something soon.

Read the Key Principles in Full

Until then what details do we know now? Well we can expect authors of publications to retain copyright with no restrictions and the funders of research will be jointly responsible to comply with open access standards. If there are no appropriate open access platforms for the research then support will be provided to release the work in a co-ordinated way.

The direct impact on Physiotherapy research is unclear. What we can say is that any physiotherapy related research funded by the 11 funding bodies listed below will become readily accessible. Ultimately this will likely be the large scale RCTs not the small scale physiotherapy studies looking at manual therapy and alike. Honestly this would be a move in the right direction as the profession should be looking at boosting the quality of research we create.

  • Austrian Science Fund
  • French National Research Agency
  • Science Foundation Ireland
  • National Research Fund (Luxembourg)
  • Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • Research Council of Norway
  • National Science Centre (Poland)
  • Slovenian Research Agency
  • Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning
  • UK Research and Innovation

For a comprehensive overview read this article from Nature.