Plan S funder policies

As of 1 January 2021 a range of funders have implemented new Open Access (OA) policies aligned with Plan S.

Researchers acknowledging funding from the organisations listed above will be impacted by these policy changes and will need to act on them before submitting papers for publication.

Key requirements in Plan S funder policies

There will be two common requirements across these new policies which, for papers acknowledging funding from one of the cOAlition S organisations listed above, will apply to all research papers submitted on or after 1 January 2021 (or date as specified in the funders policy):

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).

FAQ about Creative Commons licences.

B. Rights Retention

Authors must retain sufficient intellectual property rights ownership 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).

Achieving Immediate Open Access requirements

cOAlition S organisations will continue to support the payment of article processing charges (APCs) to support OA. However, they will not fund articles published in subscription journals (hybrid journals), unless the publisher has entered into a sanctioned transformative agreement or the journal demonstrates a clear path to becoming fully Open Access (transformative journal).

As the University does not have funds to pay for hybrid OA publishing, in practical terms, this means there are three compliant routes available to University of Birmingham researchers:

1. Fully Open Access Publishing Venue

Publish the paper in a journal or platform which makes all content open access under a CC BY licence by default. Where there is an APC charge, Wellcome Trust funded authors may apply to use the University’s Wellcome Trust OA Block grant - this must be done before submission to the journal.  

If you are funded by one of the other cOAlitionS organisations with active policies, you may be able to reclaim costs direct from the funder.

2. Transformative Arrangement (valid route until December 2024)

Publish the paper in a journal published under a ‘transformative arrangement’. Transformative arrangements may apply at a publisher (transformative agreement) or journal level (transformative journal).

Transformative agreements aim to shift funds currently paid to publishers for access to paywalled content (via subscription fees), to pay for Open Access services. In doing so they will increase the proportion of Open Access content that publisher makes available over a period until all newly published content is Open Access. There is more information about Transformative agreements in the FAQ.

In most cases this will refer to a publisher wide agreement which Library Services have signed up to on behalf of the University. They usually include access to read the publisher’s journals and provide either an unlimited or capped number of Open Access article publications for a single fee. Individual journals may also be ‘transformative journals’ if they have actively adopted a policy to increase the proportion of OA content to 100% over the next 4 years.

As Library Services signs up to such agreements they will be listed on our dedicated memberships page, along with instructions on how to access the agreement when you submit a paper.

Authors can apply to use block grant funding for payment of APCs in transformative journals as per route 1.

3. Deposit in an OA Repository (Green OA route)

Publish the paper in a subscription journal, but ensure your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) is made immediately OA in a repository under a CC BY licence. Plan S has implemented a rights retention strategy to ensure authors are free to do this for papers published in as wide a range of journals as possible.

Wellcome funded authors should ensure they follow the Rights Retention guidance below when submitting a paper and then deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript in Europe PMC and PURE before the article is published. If funded by one of the other cOAlitionS organisations, check any repository requirements, if no particular repository is specified, ensure your AAM is deposited in PURE before publication.

Achieving Rights Retention requirements

The Plan S rights retention strategy aims to allow authors to publish in their journal of choice even if it is not Fully OA or under a Transformative Agreement. It works by ensuring that authors or their institutions retain their right to use their AAM as they please, including depositing it in an open access repository under a CC BY licence immediately.

Plan S have given notice to publishers that authors acknowledging cOAlition S organisation funding retain the right to use and share their AAM and that at a minimum the AAM will be published with a CC BY licence and no embargo. Authors are also required to confirm that notice on submission so that there is certainty the publisher has been informed. Furthermore, Plan S and Wellcome have recently amended their guidance to advise that authors should not sign a copyright transfer/ publishing agreement which conflicts with the OA requirements of their funder. 

We recommend that authors seeking to comply with their funder via the Rights Retention route contact Library Services prior to submission so that we can provide advice on meeting these requirements.

Funder specific additional requirements: Wellcome Trust

Deposit in PubMed Central/Europe PMC

In addition to meeting OA compliance via one of the routes above, Wellcome Trust also require that a copy of the paper is freely available through PMC and Europe PMC by the final publication date.

  • For papers published in an Open Access form, you should check with the journal/publisher whether they will do this for you.
  • For papers achieving compliance via the ‘Green OA route’ you will probably need to upload the AAM to Europe PMC yourself.

Research data

Wellcome Trust require that every paper includes a statement explaining how data, original software or materials underpinning the research can be accessed.

For more information


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