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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 comes 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 (revised recently following a public feedback exercise) 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.
  • 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 earlier this year.

Ahead of the 1 January 2021 deadline, cOAlition S has committed to undertaking 9 priority actions over the next few months.

Plan S and research funders

UKRI, a founding member of cOAlition S, is currently  redrafting its OA policy to align with Plan S principles. The Wellcome Trust, another signatory, has already  revised its OA policy.

Although primarily Europe-focused on launch, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has 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

If you have any comments or questions 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: 03/07/2019






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