All Change: Pre-Prints Count – less support for Hybrids

The EC’s Open Science Implementation Plan: No Payment funds for Hybrid Journals

In an interesting development from the European Commission, a statement has been released in a recent staff working document  in the context of the EC’s open access policies and recommendations to the Member States – stating changes for the implementation of Open Science in the European Commission’s new funding programme, Horizon Europe. In particular, publication costs will only be eligible for purely open access journals, i.e. not for publishing in hybrid journals, and depositing a pre-print will satisfy the open access mandate obligations.

FP7 post-grant pilot: no support for hybrid

This update is of great interest to OpenAIRE. Its recent involvement in the post-FP7 pilot to support the publishing of articles after the projects were completed meant that one of the conditions echoed that of the EC’s: Hybrid journals were explicitly excluded from the pilot. A number of pre-paid agreements were signed with large open access journals to support APCs to be paid, however not hybrid journals. More data on the pilot can be found here. The post-grant study revealed that researchers are often unaware of the hybrid status of the journal, if they understand the meaning of the term at all. Full information about a journal status is also sometimes hard to obtain from publishers. Interestingly the Directory of Open Access Journals does not list hybrid journals.

For now, however, hybrid APCs for Horizon 2020 projects are still covered as an ‘eligible cost’, for which there are no stipulations about which open access journals to publish in. It seems this will change in Horizon Europe.

A pre-print will suffice

At present the EU’s mandate for Open Access, states:

“whatever the channel of publication… open access to publications resulting from publicly funded research be granted as soon as possible, preferably at the time of publication, and in any case no later than six months after the date of publication (no later than twelve months for social sciences and humanities);” (1)

This new document reiterates this by specifically stating the following:

“Early sharing of publications (pre-prints) will satisfy open access requirements. This is a welcome move and enables a faster way of sharing knowledge via deposit in repositories” (2)

Embedded within the European Open Science Cloud

This news comes in the context of increasing support by the EC for open science, underpinned by the establishment of a robust federated infrastructure to support open science, namely the EOSC. Supporting researchers to realise their open access obligations is one of the key aims of OpenAIRE. It has members across Europe, mainly in institutions and libraries who are actively involved in the dialogue in the world-wide shift to open access.

How to implement open science?

The working paper sets out some other concrete action points for implementing open science. As well as focusing on open access to publications, research data, and other outputs, the document also addresses the issues of rewards and incentives, stating that open science practices will be considered in evaluating funding proposals. The EC thereby makes an important step in encouraging researchers to practice open science as such practices will now be recognized and rewarded for funding grants and career progression.

Supporting the transition period

OpenAIRE’s infrastructure is comprised of a federated set of open access repositories and other ‘open’ sources of research outputs that complete the scholarly communication landscape. As part of the transition to a level open access playing field supporting the research community to deposit their pre-prints and/or post-prints in their institutional repository and to publish in fully open access journals as a vehicle to support open science across Europe and realise the open access vision is something OpenAIRE supports. This sets a precedent by the EC for support of a green way of doing open access, and also opens up new questions such as what could be the role of peer-review if pre-prints are supported. But that is another discussion….



Najla Rettberg

OpenAIRE2020 scientific manager. University of Göttingen, Germany.

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  1. Tony Ross-Hellauer says:

    Hey! I think the title here is a little misleading. As Jeroen Bosman pointed out on Twitter, hybrid OA publications will still fulfull OA requirements, they just won’t be an eligible grant cost – so, in other words, hybrids do still “count” int the sense of compliance, they just woon’t be suported with money – but as more big deals get made that include free APCs with Springer and Elsevier, hybrids are far from dead (unfortunately). Otherwise, thanks for this great overview!

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