The consortium of national research agencies and funders dedicated to making scientific publishing open access, Coalition S, is seeking feedback on its new proposal that all scholarly outputs should be made immediately and openly available for researchers to adapt, reuse and build upon free of charge. Announced on 31 October, the draft plan aims to ensure that the authors of research papers decide when and where their research findings are published, instead of the publishers, and it says that this should include pre- and post-peer review versions, as well as associated peer review reports.

The hope is that if early article versions and peer review feedback become critical elements of the scholarly record, then the system that Coalition S is advancing can elucidate how research progresses towards increasingly trustworthy knowledge, while also providing opportunities to review and filter scholarly outputs for curation and research assessment purposes.

The new proposal ‘stays true’ to Coalition S’s original mission of full and immediate open access to peer-reviewed findings from research funded by public and private grants, but it goes further in recognising that ‘the original focus on a static snapshot of the research process’ – the journal-accepted article – is ‘problematic’, explained Johan Rooryck, executive-director of Coalition S, and Bodo Stern, chief of strategic initiatives at Coalition S, in a blog post.

This original focus on the ‘version of record’ undermines timely dissemination and quality control of new research findings since such articles often take a year to be published after submission to a journal, Rooryck and Stern argue. It also drives up publishing costs and puts more sustainable and equitable open access models at a disadvantage, they continue.

The consultation process on the new proposal will run until April 2024, and will help inform a revised scheme that the Coalition S funders will consider in June 2024.