The CNRS encourages its scientists to stop paying to be published


In line with the CNRS's open science policy, scientific articles must be available in open access. The CNRS encourages its researchers to turn to publication models being free for both authors and readers. Alain Schuhl, Director General for Science, outlines these recommendations.

Can the open access mandated by the CNRS open science policy create costs for research units?
Alain Schuhl: Some journals propose to pay publication fees (or APCs for "Article Processing Charges") to have an article published open access in a so-called "hybrid" journal, i.e. one that is already being financed by subscriptions (author-pays system). Even if a research grant, for example from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) or Europe, sometimes allows that funding be used to pay APCs, the CNRS urges its researchers not to pay to publish an article in one of these journals. That would amount to paying twice. The recommended free solution for the author is to post is or her manuscript in an open archive. It is therefore possible to publish in open access for free in hybrid journals.

In which respect is the author-pays system not virtuous?
A. S.: Whether the journal is "hybrid" or full open access, this system has many flaws. First, it swaps inequality in access to results into inequality in the ability to publish. It can also suggest that paying is sufficient to be published, which potentially undermines the credibility of research. And for those who have the resources, it fosters unnecessary publication. Furthermore, it is fueling the development of what is known as "predatory" scientific publishing industry that breeds questionable or even fraudulent journals and discredits scientific production as a whole. Finally, it contributes to cost inflation: the price of APCs, which are not related to the cost of the service provided by the publisher, continues to increase year after year for most publishers, especially those that are considered "prestigious" and those whose main objective is to make a profit. In conclusion, there is no reason to pay APCs, which could also be called "article prestige charges", to be published.

What about articles submitted to subscription journals (reader pay system)?

A. S.: The CNRS asks those who publish in a subscription based journal to post the accepted author manuscript (AAM) in the HAL open repository as soon as it is published, which many journals accept.

Otherwise, it is possible to use the tools provided by the Law for a digital Republic, which allows to put the AAM on an open archive with a possible embargo not exceeding 6 months in science, technology and medicine (STM), or 12 months in the humanities and social sciences. HAL offers such an embargo option and access is granted automatically once the embargo period is over.

A guide on the application of the Rights Retention Strategy will be released online by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation shortly. The implementation of this strategy makes it possible to upload the AAM without embargo on an open archive, which will be mandatory for projects funded by the ANR or Horizon Europe. The CNRS recommends the application of this strategy.

Which model does the CNRS advise its researchers to follow?
A. S.: It is possible to publish in one of the many open access journals that do not charge publication fees. This so-called "diamond" model, supported by academic funding, allows researchers to publish their work in open access without paying publication fees and to read the articles for free. In addition, on March 2, 2022, the ANR, Science Europe, the OPERAS research infrastructure and the "cOAlition S " published the "diamond" open access action plan which was announced during the European Open Science Days (OSEC). The CNRS has long been recommending this approach to increase the diversity of open access publication channels and is one of the first signatories of this plan. 100% of CNRS articles in open access at no extra cost for scientists, it’s possible!

More information : - Open data plan of the CNRS -CNRS Roadmap Open Science  

Research assessment is also changing

The reform of researcher assessment gives more importance to the quality of research than to the quantity of publications or the type or name of the journal in which the results are published. It also proposes to value the multiple aspects of the scientists' work: software, data, scientific mediation actions, collective activities, teaching, or open access in addition to publications. During assessment exercises, an exhaustive list of scientific productions is no longer required and the sections of the National Committee have adopted evaluation principles in line with open science. With the Paris Call, France invites institutions to join a coalition of European research actors committed to implementing these transformations in their evaluation practices.