Plan S banner_small
Image: Science Europe (CC BY)

What is Plan S?

On 4 September 2018, cOAlition S – a group of national research funders, supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council – launched a new open access (OA) publishing initiative called Plan S, which came into effect on 1 January 2021. It aims to accelerate the transition towards full and immediate open access to research publications by committing to the following:

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.

Key points

Plan S is built on a framework of 10 principles, supported by implementation guidance. These documents include the following key points:

  • Authors or their institutions to retain copyright of their publications.
  • Funders will not support publication in hybrid (or mirror/sister) journals unless such journals commit to changing their business model within a clearly defined timeframe.
  • Plan S principles apply to all scholarly publications but it is recognised that the timeline for achieving OA for monographs and books will be longer and will necessitate separate guidance. (Update: in September 2021, cOAlition S released a set of recommendations on 'academic books', a definition that encompasses monographs, book chapters, edited collections, critical editions, and other long-form works.)
  • Authors to publish under an open licence, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence.
  • Funders may opt to standardise or cap the reimbursement of OA publication fees if the fees charged by publishers are deemed unreasonable.
  • Funding agencies will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliant beneficiaries/grantees.

cOAlition S principles also include a commitment to changing the academic reward and incentive system by supporting the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) that research should be assessed on its own merits rather than on the basis of the venue in which the research is published. The University of Nottingham has also committed to this culture change by signing DORA.

In the event that funder grant conditions diverge from publisher preference (for example, a funder mandates applying a CC BY licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript to enable open access without embargo via a repository but the publisher discourages this), the University recommends its authors to abide by their grant conditions.  

Plan S and research funders

UKRI, a founding member of cOAlition S, has revised its open access policy. The new policy, informed by Plan S principles and the views of stakeholders, was announced on 6 August 2021. Find out more on our dedicated web page.

The Wellcome Trust, another signatory, has also revised its OA policy and its new policy came into effect on 1 January 2021. 

Although primarily Europe-focused on launch, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization have also joined cOAlition S, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, among others, has issued a statement supporting the initiative.  

What does Plan S mean for UoN researchers?

The detailed implementation decisions of individual funding agencies, such as UKRI, will be key in determining the likely impact of Plan S on UK researchers. 

UoN Libraries'  Research Support Team will update this page as Plan S progresses and more details emerge from individual funders.

cOAliton S has stated its intention to review the requirements, effects and impact of Plan S by the end of 2024.

Help and support

Please read the FAQs on the Plan S website. These will be regularly updated to reflect questions arising from the research and publishing communities. 

If you have any additional questions or comments about Plan S (including how it might affect your research publications), please email

For information on current open access requirements, please visit our open access policies page.


Last updated: 01/10/2021

University of Nottingham Libraries

King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

Please see our Help and support page for
telephone and email
contact points