Science, many paragraphs into its story on the updated Plan S “transparency” rules:
The pricing data will be shared with funders and research institutions, but not publicly. This is to address publishers’ concerns that sharing the information with competitors risked accusations from antitrust authorities that they are colluding to fix prices. “The legal analysis that we’ve done indicates that that risk is very, very low, but publishers have come to a different conclusion,” says Marc Schiltz, president of Science Europe, an association of national funding agencies that helped launch cOAlition S.
Talk about burying the lede. More to the point, “transparency” is an odd word choice for this secrecy requirement. And the provision is plainly at odds with the whole Plan S theme of openness.
The capitulation to commercial publishers’ financial interests is one of many from the coalition, as the Science article notes in journalistic deadpan:
Before deciding on the push for price transparency, cOAlition S originally wanted to put a price cap on publication fees, but the journals resisted. A price cap “would be a real problem for many journals,” says Bernd Pulverer, head of scientific publication at the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and chief editor of The EMBO Journal. That’s because “costs vary dramatically across subject areas, and across the selectivity of journals, and the value-added of journals.”
The APC has never been about “processing” costs, but instead—as everyone knows—whatever the market (mainly funders) will bear. No cap and no transparency equals the APC status quo, with all of its patterned barriers to authorship.