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Science : A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read
In 2018, a group of mostly European funders sent shock waves through the world of scientific publishing by proposing an unprecedented rule: The scientists they funded would be required to make journal articles developed with their support immediately free to read when published.
The new requirement, which takes effect starting this month, seeks to upend decades of tradition in scientific publishing, whereby scientists publish their research in journals for free and publishers make money by charging universities and other institutions for subscriptions.

This is what the sentence sounds like:
The scientists (who are funded by the funders) have the control on the articles they publish. So, they can decide whether it is free to read the articles. And therefore they have to make their articles free.

But the reality is:
The scientists themselves should pay to read their own articles published by the publishers. That is, only the publishers can decide whether it is free to read. Therefore it is the publishers who have to make the articles free.

In that case, the sentence should have been:

"The publishers are required to make the articles written by the scientists who are funded by the funders immediately free to read."

The question of this thread is:
Has the author correctly used the subject?
(A question of "the scientists are required" vs. "the publishers are required")

1 Answer 1

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The scientists they funded would be required to make journal articles developed with their support immediately free to read when published.

To me, this reads as intended - that the funders have control. This is clear when you understand that both pronouns "they" and "their" in this sentence refer to the 'group of mostly European funders' mentioned in the previous sentence.

The scientists the funders funded would be required to make journal articles developed with the funders' support immediately free to read when published.

Using impersonal pronouns when talking about multiple parties can cause confusion, so good writers make sure there is no ambiguity when doing so. In this case, 'the scientists' are named and the pronouns only refer to the previously mentioned funders.

It is also clear that the 'requirement' placed upon the scientists is done so by the funders, as there are no other parties being discussed that could place a requirement on them.

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