IARLA, representing the research libraries of Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, and the United States, endorses cOAlition S’s March 1, 2022 letter to publishers requesting more transparent policies and contracts for authors at the point of submission.  We remain strongly supportive of authors exercising their rights using the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy. 

cOAlition S requests that publishers make their policies and contracts more transparent at the outset of the submission process. The request outlined in the letter that was sent today to a large number of publishers is intended to make publisher submission workflows and processes as clear and straightforward as possible for authors and to help them meet their pre-existing grant conditions.

There are three areas where publishers could make the publishing process significantly clearer and easier for authors. Specifically, we are asking publishers to ensure that authors are aware, at the point of submission, of the following:

  1. The licence they will be asked to sign if their manuscript is accepted for publication
  2. Any fees which will be levied if their manuscript is accepted for publication
  3. Whether their manuscript will be re-routed to another journal as a result of any prior notice of re-use rights, which is included in the submission.

This request is in accord with COPE’s “Principles of Transparency” guidelines which calls, for example, for clarity in copyright and licensing and information pertaining to any publishing fees which may be levied.

Information regarding these issues should be displayed prominently on the publisher’s website, in any “information for authors” documentation, and in the submission system at the start of the process.

Making terms and conditions clear to the author at the outset will enable the author to make an informed decision whether to proceed with their submission or not. It will help avoid problems, such as authors being required to withdraw the manuscript after having gone through a lengthy peer review process, because of restrictions in how that work can be shared, or being forced to pay out of pocket to cover APCs.