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.

Funders and Plan S

As of 1 January 2021 a range of funders, including Wellcome Trust, will be implementing new Open Access (OA) policies aligned with Plan S.

UKRI are a signatory to Plan S, but have indicated that an aligned policy will not be implemented until 2022 following the outcome of consultation activity. UKRI funded authors should continue to abide by their existing policy during 2021.

We know that other funders will be adopting Plan S associated policies in 2021 and beyond. As we receive confirmation of those new policies, they will be listed on our Plan S funder policies pageAuthors will need to act on these new policies before submitting papers for publication. 

Key requirements for authors

There will be two common requirements across these new policies which will apply to all research papers submitted on or after 1 January 2021:

A. Immediate Open Access

All such papers must be immediately OA by the publication date under a CC BY licence (or CC BY-ND by exceptional prior approval by the funder). More guidance on Creative Commons licences can be found in our FAQs.

B. Rights Retention

Authors must retain sufficient intellectual property ownership rights to use and re-use those papers as they choose after they have been published (including: free distribution/sharing of copies of the work with anyone and via any network they choose; freedom to use the work within any other work of their own, or anyone else’s; freedom to use the work for teaching as they choose).

Further guidance on achieving these requirements is available on our Plan S funder policies page.

Journal Checker Tool

A Plan S Journal Checker Tool is currently available in beta form. It allows authors to check whether individual titles meet Plan S criteria for Fully OA journals or transformative arrangements, whether they have a compliant Green policy, and options available for meeting compliance. (We are aware of some current issues with the accuracy of the tool and are providing feedback to enhance its accuracy once it is live from 1st January 2021.)

Before submitting a paper for publication, Wellcome (and authors funded by one of the other cOAlition S funders noted above) should enter the Journal title, their funder and their institution into the Journal Checker tool. This will indicate which (if any) of the three routes to compliance is appropriate.

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. Following consultation, Wellcome have produced guidance on their expectations for institutions in receipt of their funding.

Further Plan S information


Professional Services