Plan S

Plan S is a new initiative for Open Access (OA) publishing. It has been devised by cOAlition S, an international consortium of Research Funders including UKRI and Wellcome. There is ongoing activity to expand membership to research funders worldwide.

Plan S requires that from January 2021, scholarly publications resulting from all new projects funded by cOAlition S members, must be made immediately Open Access at the point of publication. Both the Green and Gold routes to OA are acceptable, provided:

  • Authors or their institutions retain copyright to their publications.
  • Publications are made available under a licence that in most cases allows commercial re-use and derivative works so long as the original authors are attributed, e.g. under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY).

In the long term, Plan S aligned funders will not pay for open access publishing in ‘Hybrid journals’ (those charging both a subscription fee and Article Processing Charges (APCs) for Gold Open Access. However in the short term they will continue to support publishing in such titles during a transitionary (3-4 year) period, so long as the publishers of those titles have entered into an agreement which actively transforms their publishing model to Fully OA.

Plan S workplan

Key Plan S 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.
  • 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.

Full details of Plan S principles are available at

Plan S implications for the University of Birmingham

When considering the implications of Plan S for the University of Birmingham, it is notable that:

  • For the vast majority of articles that are currently made OA via the Green route in PURE, publishers require an embargo period and a less permissive licence. These would not be compliant with Plan S.
  • Most articles currently published as Gold OA using the UKRI or COAF block grant are published in ‘hybrid’ journals. These would only be compliant with Plan S if the publisher enters into a compliant transformative agreement from 2021.

As JISC enter into negotiations with publishers about the renewal of ‘big deal’ subscription packages, they are requiring those deals be transformative and are consulting with the library and HE community about the detail.

Monographs and books

There is an aim for Plan S to apply to monographs and book chapters eventually, but the timeline will be longer.  It is notable that UKRI and Research England have been heavily consulting the HE community about OA monograph publishing throughout 2019. Research England have dedicated 2.2m funding towards a project to encourage more and better use of open access book publishing.
Research Assessment
Plan S commits research funders to assessment of the intrinsic merit of research outputs, rather than impact factors/other journal metrics, when making funding decisions. 
Funders and Plan S
The ultimate application of Plan S will depend on how its principles are implemented by individual funders. 
  • Wellcome Trust has published their new OA policy.
  • UKRI are currently consulting stakeholders on a new Open Access Policy and aim to produce a draft for consultation in the Autumn of 2019, with the policy launched formally in March 2020.
  • While Research England are part of UKRI, we don’t know the extent to which any future REF Open Access policy will adhere to Plan S. UKRI have suggested that a separate consultation will be launched regarding the OA policy for the next REF during Q1 of 2020.


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