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Research Publishing (Open Access)

Open access compliance and REF 2021

What is Plan S?

Launched in 2018, Plan S is a funder-backed scheme requiring free online access to scientific literature. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

What is cOALition S?

On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. From this group Plan S was born.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a member of cOAlition S, along with members from across Europe, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. The Wellcome Trust is also a supporter.

Plan S - Principles and Implementation

Part I: Principles

“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.”

In addition:

  1. Authors or their institutions retain copyright to their publications. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), in order to fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;

  2. The Funders will develop robust criteria and requirements for the services that high-quality Open Access journals, Open Access platforms, and Open Access repositories must provide;

  3. In cases where high-quality Open Access journals or platforms do not yet exist, the Funders will, in a coordinated way, provide incentives to establish and support them when appropriate; support will also be provided for Open Access infrastructures where necessary;

  4. Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by the Funders or research institutions, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all researchers should be able to publish their work Open Access;

  5. The Funders support the diversity of business models for Open Access journals and platforms. When Open Access publication fees are applied, they must be commensurate with the publication services delivered and the structure of such fees must be transparent to inform the market and funders potential standardisation and capping of payments of fees;

  6. The Funders encourage governments, universities, research organisations, libraries, academies, and learned societies to align their strategies, policies, and practices, notably to ensure transparency.

  7. The above principles shall apply to all types of scholarly publications, but it is understood that the timeline to achieve Open Access for monographs and book chapters will be longer and requires a separate and due process;

  8. The Funders do not support the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing. However, as a transitional pathway towards full Open Access within a clearly defined timeframe, and only as part of transformative arrangements, Funders may contribute to financially supporting such arrangements;

  9. The Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliant beneficiaries/grantees;

  10. The Funders commit that when assessing research outputs during funding decisions they will value the intrinsic merit of the work and not consider the publication channel, its impact factor (or other journal metrics), or the publisher.

Part II: Guidance on the implementation

These cover: Aim and scope; Plan S compliance; Transformative arrangements; Supporting... OA journals and platforms; Transparency of costs and prices; Review; Compliance and sanctioning; Timeline.

Part III: Technical guidance and requirements

These cover requirements for all 'publication venues' (i.e. journals and publishing platforms) and for open access repositories.


Plan S - News

Keep up-to-date with Plan S News 

On 06/07/22 Plan S released a statement on peer reviewed publications. It said that 

"The key principle of Plan S states that “from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.” The Guidance document defines “scientific publications” further as “peer-reviewed scholarly publications”. These are generally interpreted as peer reviewed articles published in scholarly journals or on platforms.

Scientific publishing is evolving rapidly. A number of initiatives have moved away from the notion that peer-reviewed articles must be published in traditional Open Access journals or platforms. They provide peer review services that are entirely independent from such journals or platforms. These include Peer Community in (PCI), ScietyNext Generation RepositoriesNotify ProjectPREreview, and Review Commons, to name a few. These initiatives give the author the freedom to decide how and when to disseminate their peer-reviewed article.

In light of the accelerating development of these journal-independent peer-review services, cOAlition S would like to explicitly state that ‘peer reviewed publications’ – defined here as scholarly papers that have been subject to a journal-independent standard peer review process with an implicit or explicit validation are considered by most cOAlition S organisations to be of equivalent merit and status as peer-reviewed publications that are published in a recognised journal or on a platform."

To read the full article please go to 

Statement on peer reviewed publications is available through the Plan S website under a CC by 4. licence.