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Open Access

Plan S

This page provides an overview of Plan S. We will be updating the page as more information becomes available. If you have any further queries in the meantime, please contact openaccess@kcl.ac.uk.


index                                                                                                        ( Image copyright Science Europe is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

What is Plan S?

Plan S is an Open Access policy framework developed by the European Commission and Science Europe.

cOAlition S states:

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders.

The key principle is as follows: “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 or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

At the end of May 2019 cOAlition S released revised implementation guidance following a feedback exercise. The new guidance is available here:


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.

But important changes are proposed in the implementation guidance:

  • 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 output;
  • 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.

Wellcome Trust and UKRI positions on Plan S:

Wellcome Trust Open access policy 2021 – Frequently Asked Questions. Policy review and key changes (31 May 2019)

UKRI Open Access Review. On 4 September 2018 UKRI agreed to implement the ten principles of Plan S. It is also undertaking its own Open Access policy review. A press release (4 September 2018) was released in support of Plan S, plus an update on UKRI’s open access review (11 November 2018). Stakeholder consultation is currently underway; a stakeholder roundtable meeting held December 2018, with slides available. UKRI is expected to report end-2019, with policy to be launched in 2020.

For more details, please see guidance on funder policies.

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