Smits Weeps as Plan S Fades

An empty suit sees his plan crumble over time, so tries to trick people into staying the course

In an essay published yesterday laced with misleading language, wrong-headed claims, and dismissive mythmaking, Robert-Jan Smits continues to beat the drum of Plan S, despite cOAlition S apparently having admitted defeat earlier this summer.

It sounds a lot like a person weeping over failure.

Going through the litany of misrepresentations and obfuscations would take all day, so here are a few of the choicest:

  • “The case for open access became utterly clear when the Covid-19 virus spread rapidly across the globe . . .” — A canard of the OA crowd is that OA helped speed . . . long pause . . . what exactly? The mRNA vaccines were pioneered long ago, with results published in subscription journals by and large. Does the business model of the journal mean the science wasn’t important or effectively developed and deployed? Of course not. Meanwhile, the publication frenzy of 2020-21 only sowed anxiety and confusion. Retraction Watch continues to add to its list of Covid-19 papers retracted so far — 364 and counting. Haste makes waste.
  • “First of all, the group of funders—which calls itself Coalition S—has grown over the years.” — As noted above, they are also throwing in the towel, which underscores a problem with funders — they dabble. After years of dabbling in publishing, many are pulling up stakes.
  • “ . . . there are still some people out there who believe that open access is tantamount to predatory journals with little quality oversight, and there are others who deliberately keep this myth alive.” — No Gold OA, no predatory journals, no “special issues” scandals, no profit from bulk publishing. It’s that simple. It’s not a myth, but a fact.
  • “ . . . be ruthless about the 2024 deadline for the transformative agreements to have delivered.” — Pure bluster, a hallmark of Smits’ style.

Smits should be ignored. He’s never been published in a journal, so has no idea what goes into them. He’s an empty suit, a bureaucrat with little grasp of the topics here, reckless in his statements and insufficiently curious to explore his assertions or think through his points.

Let’s call this one, “The tears of a clown.”