About Plan S

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Topics CAUL Business, Research, Scholarly Communications

On the 4th September 2018 Science Europe announced cOAlition S and Plan S – a process for achieving full and immediate open access to research publications by 2020.

Implementation and feedback

Members of cOAlition S have read with interest the many comments made on Plan S. After discussion and consideration, the coalition has approved the implementation guidance on making full and immediate Open Access a reality. The guidance is now open for public feedback until 1 February 2019.


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. Plan S requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

Plan S is built around one target and 10 principles:

“By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

The 10 principles of Plan S are:

  1. Authors retain copyright of their publication with no restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;

  2. The Funders will ensure jointly the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide;

  3. In case such 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 universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means;

  5. When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe);

  6. The Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, 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 books may be longer than 1 January 2020;

  8. The importance of open archives and repositories for hosting research outputs is acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation;

  9. The ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;

  10. The Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance.

Reservations so far about the plan include:

  • that 85% of journals currently published are not compliant (including Science and Nature) and researchers would not be allowed to publish in them (if they wanted funding from these agencies);

  • payment of APCs by funders or universities would be capped, with no indication of how such fees would be paid;

  • no plans for the important infrastructure platforms referenced, nor who would be responsible for funding them.

The media release by cOAlition S and other information is available on the Science Europe website. Nature provide a good discussion of the plans implications and so does an article on the Hindawi blog.


Author Harry Rolf
Last modified 21 February 2019