1. Aim and Scope
Plan S aims for full and immediate Open Access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications from research funded by public and private grants. cOAlition S, the coalition of research funders that have committed to implementing Plan S, aims to accelerate the transition to a scholarly publishing system that is characterised by immediate, free online access to, and largely unrestricted use and re-use (full Open Access) of scholarly publications.
cOAlition S is committed to fulfil the specific target set out in Plan S: publications resulting from research funded by cOAlition S members’ grants under calls published as of 1 January 2021 (or earlier at individual members’ choice), must be published in Open Access venues (journals or platforms) or made openly and immediately available in an Open Access repository.
Plan S applies to all peer-reviewed publications that are based on results from research funded fully or partially by cOAlition S members. This guidance specifies the principles of Plan S and provides paths for their implementation regarding scholarly articles. cOAlition S will, by the end of 2021, issue a statement on Plan S principles as they apply to monographs and book chapters, together with related implementation guidance.
Although the Plan S principles refer to peer-reviewed scholarly publications, cOAlition S also strongly encourages that research data and other research outputs are made as open as possible and as closed as necessary. The early sharing of research results through preprints is also strongly encouraged.
cOAlition S supports the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) that research needs to be assessed on its own merits rather than on the basis of the venue in which the research is published. cOAlition S members will implement such principles in their policies by January 2021.
2. Plan S Compliance
All scholarly articles that result from research funded by members of cOAlition S must be openly available immediately upon publication without any embargo period.
There are three routes for being compliant with Plan S:
Open Access publishing venues (journals or platforms)Subscription venues (repository route)Transition of subscription venues (transformative arrangements)
RouteAuthors publish in an Open Access journal or on an Open Access platform.Authors publish in a subscription journal and make either the final published version (Version of Record (VoR)) or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) openly available in a repository.Authors publish Open Access in a subscription journal under a transformative arrangement.
FundingcOAlition S funders will financially support publication fees.cOAlition S funders will not financially support ‘hybrid’ Open Access publication fees in subscription venues.cOAlition S funders can contribute financially to Open Access publishing under transformative arrangements.
For any chosen route to compliance, the publication must be openly available immediately with a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) unless an exception has been agreed by the funder.
For the purpose of Plan S, Open Access platforms are publishing platforms for the original publication of research output (such as Wellcome Open Research or Gates Open Research). Platforms that merely serve to aggregate or re-publish content that has already been published elsewhere are not considered as such.
cOAlition S strongly encourages the deposition of all publications in a repository, irrespective of the chosen route to compliance. Several cOAlition S members require deposition of all attributed research articles in a repository.
cOAlition S urges individual researchers, research institutions, other funders, and governments not to financially support ‘hybrid’ Open Access publishing when such fees are not part of transformative arrangements. cOAlition S emphasises that the individual cOAlition S members are not obliged to enter into transformative arrangements nor to fund publication costs that are covered by such arrangements.
cOAlition S will work with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR), SHERPA/RoMEO, Efficiency and Standards for Article Charges (ESAC), and other potential partners to establish mechanisms for identifying and signalling whether journals/publishing platforms, repositories, and transformative arrangements respectively fulfil the cOAlition S requirements as detailed in Part III of this guidance. cOAlition S will support the development of a tool that researchers can use to identify whether venues fulfil the requirements.
Rights and licensing: The author or the author´s institution shall retain their copyright. Licenses to publish that are granted to a publisher must allow the author/institution to make either the Version of Record (VoR), the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM), or both versions available under an open license (as defined below) via an Open Access repository, immediately upon publication.
Where possible, cOAlition S members will ensure by way of funding contracts or agreements that the authors or their institutions retain copyright as well as the rights that are necessary to make a version (either the VoR, the AAM, or both) immediately available under an open license (as defined below). To this end, cOAlition S will develop or adopt a model ‘License to Publish’ for their grantees.
The public must be granted a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to share (i.e., copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and adapt (i.e., remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, including commercial, provided proper attribution is given to the author. cOAlition S recommends using Creative Commons licenses (CC) and requires the use of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 license by default. The following exceptions apply:
cOAlition S will, as secondary alternatives, accept the use of the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, and use of the public domain dedication, CC0.
cOAlition S members may approve the use of the CC BY-ND license for individual articles, provided that this is explicitly requested and justified by the grantee.
Third-party content included in a publication (for example images or graphics) is not affected by these requirements.
Collaborative research: cOAlitions S recognises that funders may face the challenge of scholarly papers published in collaboration with authors funded by non-cOAlition S members, or by authors with mixed affiliations. cOAlition S commits to actively engage with major research funders world-wide in order to foster alignment with the Plan S guidelines among collaborating authors.
3. Transformative Arrangements
cOAlition S supports a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. We call these approaches “transformative arrangements“, and three strategies are outlined below.
Recognising that a fundamental principle of these transformative arrangements is that they are temporary and transitional, where cOAlition S members provide funding to support publication fees of journals covered by such arrangements, this funding will cease on the 31 December 2024.
Transformative agreements: Plan S supports the global Open Access 2020 Initiative (OA2020) which aims to accelerate the transition to Open Access by adopting strategies to systematically withdraw financial support of paywalled publishing venues and reinvest those funds to support Open Access publishing. cOAlition S encourages that publishers enter into transformative arrangements globally in all countries and share data from such arrangements. cOAlition S strongly encourages institutions and consortia to develop new transformative agreements and will only financially support agreements after 1 of January 2021 where they adhere to the ESAC Guidelines.
Transformative model agreements: Many journals and publishers, especially smaller society presses, are not currently engaged in transformative agreements. cOAlition S will work together with all stakeholders to develop new models for agreements that ensure Open Access publishing and avoids double payment. In particular, cOAlition S will, in partnership with stakeholders, help to facilitate new transformative mechanisms for learned society presses and smaller and medium-sized publishers, including potentially through e.g., ‘transformative agreement model contracts.’
Transformative journals: cOAlition S will also consider developing a potential framework for ‘transformative journals’ where the share of Open Access content is gradually increased, where subscription costs are offset by income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and where the journal has a clear commitment to transition to full Open Access in an agreed timeframe.
4. Supporting Quality Open Access Journals and Platforms
cOAlition S acknowledges the existing range of high-quality Open Access journals and platforms and the importance of a diversity of business models, including Open Access publications venues that do not charge Article Processing Charges (APCs).
cOAlition S is conducting a gap analysis of Open Access journals/platforms to identify fields and disciplines where there is a need to increase the share of Open Access journals/platforms. cOAlition S members will collectively establish incentives for establishing Open Access journals/platforms or flipping existing journals to Open Access, in particular where there are gaps and needs.
5. Transparency of Costs and Prices
There exist different models of financing and paying for Open Access publications. cOAlition S recognises that there is a range of business models that can be used to achieve full and immediate Open Access. cOAlition S calls for full transparency and monitoring of publication costs and fees.
Where Plan S requirements apply, no later than 1 January 2020, cOAlition S, in partnership with publisher representatives and other stakeholders, will define the various services (e.g., triaging, peer review, editorial work, copy editing) publishers will be asked to price. This price transparency requirement will apply to all articles funded through transformative arrangements as well as those levied by Open Access journals and platforms. As a minimum, the breakdown of prices should be at a publisher level, but where possible publishers are encouraged to provide this price transparency at the journal level.
Alongside this, cOAlition S will establish on-going monitoring to maintain transparency and a clear understanding of costs and prices. cOAlition S will thereby contribute to establishing fair and reasonable prices for publishing services, including equitable waiver policies, that reflect the publishing costs. Individual cOAlition S funders may decide to standardise and cap the reimbursement of services that they will cover through their grants. cOAlition S may at a later time decide to implement caps in a coordinated way if unreasonable price levels are observed.
Before the end of 2024, cOAlition S will conclude a formal review process that examines the requirements, effects, and impact of Plan S. In particular, the review will examine the effect of transformative arrangements as well as the option of providing immediate Open Access to subscription content via open repositories, on achieving a transition to full and immediate Open Access.
7. Compliance and Sanctioning
The individual members of cOAlition S will align their grant agreements and/or contracts with Plan S and monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. Each funder will determine how best to monitor compliance and what sanctions to introduce. Possible sanctions could include: withholding grant funds, discounting non-compliant publications as part of a researcher’s track record in grant applications, and/or excluding non-compliant grant holders from future funding calls.
The timeline for implementation of Plan S will vary among member organisations. As a minimum requirement, cOAlition S members must apply the Plan S principles at the latest in calls published, or application deadlines, after 1 January 2021. cOAlition S encourages its members who are in a position to do so, to implement Plan S on all grants awarded from January 2021.