Plan S fact sheet

What is Plan S?

Plan S is an initiative launched by a group known as cOAlition S in September 2018.  This consortia of European research funders are seeking to advance the uptake of Open Access and aim to make the results of the work fund openly accessible upon publication with no embargo period.

Changes to Plan S following consultation: May 2019

In order to provide more time for researchers and publishers to adapt to the changes under Plan S, the timeline has been extended by one year to 2021;

Transformative agreements will be supported until 2024;

More options for transitional arrangements (transformative agreements, transformative model agreements, ‘transformative journals’) are supported;

Greater clarity is provided about the various compliance routes: Plan S is NOT just about a publication fee model of Open Access publishing. cOAlition S supports a diversity of sustainability models for Open Access journals and platforms;

More emphasis is put on changing the research reward and incentive system: cOAlition S funders explicitly commit to adapt the criteria by which they value researchers and scholarly outputalong the lines of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA);

The importance of transparency in Open Access publication fees is emphasised in order to inform the market and funders’ potential standardisation and capping of payments of such fees;

The technical requirements for Open Access repositories have been revised.

 However, they also reinforce the point that the revised Plan S maintains the fundamental principles

 No scholarly publication should be locked behind a paywall;

Open Access should be immediate i.e., without embargoes;

Full Open Access is implemented by the default use of a Creative Commons Attribution CC BY licence as per the Berlin Declaration;

Funders commit to support Open Access publication fees at a reasonable level;

Funders will not support publication in hybrid (or mirror/sister) journals unless they are part of a transformative arrangement with a clearly defined endpoint.”

UKRI’s formal policy review will take place in the autumn and undoubtedly will be informed by these changes.

 As a reminder, the following routes to compliance are available under Plan S:


Open Access publishing venues (journals or platforms)

Subscription venues (repository route)

Transition of subscription venues (transformative arrangements)


Authors publish in an Open Access journal or on an Open Access platform.

Authors publish in a subscription journal and make either the final published version (Version of Record (VoR)) or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) openly available in a repository.

Authors publish Open Access in a subscription journal under a transformative arrangement.



cOAlition S funders will financially support publication fees.

cOAlition S funders will not financially support ‘hybrid’ Open Access publication fees in subscription venues.

cOAlition S funders can contribute financially to Open Access publishing under transformative arrangements.


 Further information:

Preparing for Plan S: Answers to the top journal publisher FAQs we've heard based on what is known now - blog by Scholastica on the updated Plan S guidelines (3 June 2019)

Background (September 2018)

The full aim of Plan S is that:

"After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access journals on compliant Open Access Platforms"

What are the advantages?

Although the concept of open access to research has been around for well over a decade, progress towards adoption has been slow.  Plan S argues that the main aim of research is to allow others to build on it to create new knowledge and that any type of Paywall is a barrier to this.  Although a traditional model involving paying fees for access worked when the majority of research was printed this is no longer acceptable in a world where many outputs are published online.

The Plan aims to help standardise the approach to making work open by offering guidelines on compliant platforms, caps on fees and robust sanctions for non-compliance.  This will help to bring together the different groups working towards Open Access and offer them a more powerful voice.  Funders signing up to the principles will also help advance the move towards responsible research as they advocate judging the quality of an output rather than where it is published.

Plan S Principles

It is important to remember that Plan is a set of principles rather than a policy.  INdividual research funders may choose to implement these principles in different ways.  The ten principles are explained below:

COPYRIGHT: Authors will keep the copyright in their work with no restrictions and should publish under an open license (preferable CC-BY).  This means researchers will be allowed to reuse their own materials without seeking permission.

CRITERIA: Research funders will work to establish robust criteria which outline what makes a compliant Open Access journal or other platform.  At the moment this is not always clear cut.

INCENTIVES: Where adequate Open Access journals or platforms do not already exist, funders will offer help and other incentives to set them up.  Additional support will be provided as appropriate.

FEES: Open Access fees shoud be covered by funders and universities rather than researchers themselves (where appropriate).  The Plan explicitly states that not having the money to pay fees should not be a barrier to open publication.

STANDARDISATION: Open Access publication fees should be standardised and capped across Europe to avoid confusion.

ALIGNMENT: Universities, research institutions and libraries will work to align their policies around Open Access both to streamlibe the process and to ensure transparency for researchers.

MONOGRAPHS: Although the Plan will apply to all types of research output it recognises that dealing with open books is complex and that it may take longer than the stated deadline to achieve fully Open Access monographs.

REPOSITORIES: Open Access repositories and archives offer a commitment to long-term preservation to research outputs and the Plan acknowledges how important this is to making work accessible.

HYBRID: Hybrid journals - those which charge a fee to make selected articles openly available whilst charging a subscription for the rest -  will not be compliant with Plan S.

COMPLIANCE: The members of cOAlition S will monitor compliance with the principles and there will be sanctions for those wo fail to comply.