The international Plan S research-funder consortium cOAlition S proposes that institutional libraries should transition from subscription to ‘pure publish’ deals with open-access journals by 2024 (see Nature 572, 586; 2019). However, the coalition represents just 16 European funding agencies and 3 international charity foundations. Many other European funders are not in a position to pay open-access publication fees on behalf of their researchers.
For example, Denmark’s 14,000 private foundations that currently support half of the country’s research are stretched to the limit. Their researchers will therefore have no choice but to pay the bill out of their own research grants, which are already under intense pressure from spiralling costs.
Remedial action is urgently needed if publication and knowledge flow are not to be skewed towards the wealthiest countries and universities. For example, national or European Union funds could be established to help cash-strapped researchers cover their publishing costs.