Plan S

Information on Plan S, a world-wide Open Access initiative from participating research funders under cOAlition S.

cOAlition S

The implementation of Plan S is driven by cOAlition S. Launched in September 2018, this group of national funders is co-ordinated by Science Europe and is supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC) in fulfilling one main principle:

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.

This principle, as well as the supporting principles, were updated in May 2019 along with revised implementation guidance following consultation. Plan S implementation began in January 2021.

As of February 2023, cOAlition S comprises 19 national research funding organisations and seven charitable foundations, including:

  • UKRI (representing the research councils, including BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC and NERC)
  • The Wellcome Trust
  • European Commission (Europe-wide funder)

The most recent UKRI open access policy (published Aug 2021) and University-wide policy on Research Publications and Copyright (in effect from January 2022) are both in line with Plan S.

cOAlition S website

UKRI open access policy

University and Research Publications & Copyright Policy

The 10 principles of Plan S

The main principle of cOAlition S is to be achieved by the implementation of 10 supporting principles (updated May 2019, correct as of February 2023):

  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.

10 principles of Plan S from the cOAlition S website

Poster of 10 principles and implementation plan of Plan S from the cOAlition S website

Licensing types explained on the Creative Commons website

The Berlin Declaration

Plan S compliance

Plan S outlines three routes to compliance, which align with the most recent UKRI policy on open access (published in August 2021) and the University's updated Research Publications and Copyright Policy (effective January 2022). cOAlition S confirmed in January 2023 that they will stop support for transformative agreements in December 2024, with the expectation that individual cOAlition S funders (e.g. UKRI) would only exceptionally continue to fund such agreements beyond this deadline. In practice, this means that funders are unlikely to support payment of APCs in journals which operate a subscription model (with some content behind a paywall) alongside a gold open access model (where authors pay an APC to grant public access to their article). This has been University practice for an extended period, and authors are unlikely to experience significant change to their publication and open access process.

The University has a number of agreements with publishers who are committed to transforming to an open access publishing model. Details are available via the Scholarly Communications webpages (link below), and can be confirmed with the Informatics RDM team.

Scholarly Communications webpage on publisher agreements

The below table outlines Plan S routes to compliance. The first two rows are taken from the Plan S Principles and Implementation document published in 2019. The examples provided are specific to Informatics. 

Plan S routes to compliance
Info Open access publishing venues (journals or platforms) Subscription venues (repository route) Transition of subscription venues (transformative arrangements)
Route Authors 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 agreement.
Funding cOAlition 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 a transformative agreement.
Example (internal) An EPSRC-funded author wishes to publish in Frontiers in Psychiatry. The journal is fully open access, meaning the article processing charge is covered by the UKRI block grant held by the University. 

Most hybrid journals or platforms used by Informatics authors are hosted by publishers now committed to a transformative model of open access (e.g. IEEE, ACM) and some will have an existing read and publish deal with the University (e.g. Elsevier, Springer). Where a deal is not in place, the University preference is for green open access which aligns with Plan S. An EPSRC-funded author who wishes to publish in e.g. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications would not normally see the article processing charge covered by the UKRI block grant. Instead, compliance with UKRI policy is achieved by depositing a copy of the author's accepted manuscript in Pure under a CC-BY licence, also in line with the University's Research Publications and Copyright Policy.

An author wishes to publish in the Elsevier journal Computer Networks. The University has a transformative agreement with Elsevier, and the author can thus publish their article gold open access without charge. By contrast, if the chosen platform (e.g. ACM) has a transformative publishing model but there isn't a transformative agreement in place between the publisher and the University, the author's path to compliance is via green open access (deposit of the accepted manuscript in Pure).

Page and colour charges are not within scope of Plan S, and are not covered by the UKRI block grant. 


Plan S principles and implementation plan from the cOAlition S website

UKRI open access policy

University's Research Publications and Copyright Policy

Guidance and consultation

Further guidance on the implementation of Plan S was published on 27 Nov 2018. The guidance was open for public consultation until 08 February 2019 (extended from 01 February 2019). Further to a series of public meetings, the University submitted a response to the consulation, available from the Scholarly Communications Plan S pages. 

In response to the feedback received during the consultation period, cOAlition S published the updated Plan S principles and implementation plan in May 2019.

University of Edinburgh response to the Plan S consultation

Plan S pages from Scholarly Communications

Plan S principles and implementation plan from the cOAlition S website

Poster of 10 principles and implementation plan of Plan S from the cOAlition S website

Further information

cOAlition S statement on UKRI Plan S-aligned open access policy

Wellcome Trust updated Open Access policy in light of Plan S