This work will be guided by 12 general principles that represent a global, multi-stakeholder, common ground perspective on the future of scholarly communication. Plan A’s work and work products will be:
Research communication tools, services and options need to be developed with heavy input from the research community, with solutions and approaches driven by researcher needs and concerns.
Successful and sustainable solutions will require broad collaboration, not just to ensure that all perspectives are considered, but also to ensure there is broad ownership of ideas.
There are a great many interconnected issues in scholarly communication. We can’t just improve the openness of information without also addressing issues such as the current functioning of impact factors, peer review, and predatory publishing. Reforming scholarly communication will require a systemic approach.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to scholarly communication reform. Instead, there are many different pathways to reform, including many that have not yet been conceived or deployed. Diversity, creativity and flexibility in this undertaking should be encouraged, at the same time noting that we should try to maximize adherence to the other principles represented here.
We need a better understanding of key issues in scholarly communication before moving forward. For instance, what is the impact of open research? The more accurate and honest our assessments, the more accurate and honest our reform efforts can be, the easier these efforts will be to promote, and the more successful they will be.
We need enforceable, community-developed/driven standards to ensure the integrity of journal publishing, repositories, and other related activities/products, and to ensure that unethical approaches are not embraced.
We must discuss and plan for what the future of scholarly communication means, beyond just having access. For instance, we need to identify precisely what we plan to do with open information, where we will need data interoperability, what tools and procedures we will need to achieve this interoperability, and so on. By doing this, we focus on and strive for our community’s common goals.
Researchers everywhere need to be able to access and contribute information to the global body of research information with minimal barriers. To the extent practicable, research information—particularly information central to life and health—should not be unreasonably constrained by issues such as high access costs, poor journal indexing, and a lack of capacity-building programs.
Scholarly communication reform approaches need to be sustainable, which flows from all the other elements in this list. That is, the reform solutions we design need to be achievable, affordable, popular, effective, and so on.
This community needs to maintain as much transparency as possible in this effort (with regard to pricing, usage, ownership, and so on) in order to address the trust issues that have plagued this space for so long.
This community needs to agree on a few simple, high-level, common-ground goals for scholarly communication reform—not anything specific with regard to publishing requirements, for example, but a general set of goals that are understandable, achievable, and adaptable. By setting out general goals that can be easily achieved, participation can be made simple and easy, with low barriers to entry.
In the end, these reforms need to benefit research first and foremost. While the argument to improve benefits to society is central, these benefits need to be matured carefully, deliberately, and realistically in order to ensure that societal benefits are indeed being conveyed as intended, and that research is not being harmed in the process.