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June 11, 2019, by Rob Ounsworth

Plan S: updated principles and guidance on open access

By Julie Baldwin

Plan S: accelerating the transition to open access to grant-funded research

In September 2018 Plan S, a new open access (OA) publishing initiative, was released. Led by European research funders, under the banner of cOAlition S, it aims to accelerate the transition to full and immediate open access to grant-funded research. UK signatories to Plan S include UKRI and the Wellcome Trust.

Since September, not only has the initiative grown into a global alliance of research funders, it has also undertaken a large-scale public consultation on the draft Plan S implementation guidance. On 31 May 2019 cOAlition S released its updated principles and implementation guidance, and below we’ve highlighted some key things to be aware of both old and new to the policy:

Key updates on Plan S

  • The good news is that an additional year has been granted to put Plan S into place. The original start date of 1 January 2020 has now been put back to 1 January 2021, with the overall aim that:
    “With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”
  • Authors or their institutions are to retain copyright to their publications and these publications need to be published under an open licence, ideally the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY). However, in exceptional cases a CC BY-ND licence may be considered by funders.
  • ‘Hybrid’ journals (which publish articles accessed both through subscription and open access) will not be compliant venues of publication, unless they commit to changing their business model within a defined timeframe.
  • There will be three ways of compliantly achieving open access, with a welcome clarification that self-archiving in an open access repository, such as University of Nottingham’s Research Information System (RIS), is one of these routes. The other two routes include publishing in a fully open access journal or in a hybrid journal which is transforming to a fully open access business model.
  • Further clarity was provided that OA monographs and book chapters will be addressed in a separate and longer process, and the principles for this are due to be released by the end of 2021.
  • Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance, and the requirements and impact of Plan S will be reviewed by the end of 2024.

Plan S logoOpen access policies

It’s important to note that whilst Plan S provides overarching aims and implementation guidance, it will be for individual cOAlition S members to translate these into their open access policies. The Wellcome Trust have already realigned their open access policy to incorporate Plan S requirements and other funders, including UKRI, are similarly adapting their open access policies to align with Plan S.

If you have any queries over how this may affect your publishing, please contact the UoN Libraries Research Support Team at For more information please also read our Plan S webpage, which will be updated as further information is released.

Julie Baldwin is a Research Librarian, University of Nottingham Libraries

Posted in research