Plan S FAQs
Frequently asked questions relating to Plan S.
What does implementation of Plan S actually mean?
Members of cOAlition S, including UKRI and Wellcome Trust, have updated their own policies to reflect the Plan S principles.
Wellcome Trust published their updated open access policy to adhere to Plan S principles from January 2021. UKRI completed an extensive review of their open access policy and published the new policy in 2021. The updated policy confirms journal articles and conference proceedings submitted for publication after April 2022 must adhere to Plan S principles. Both funder policies mandate that authors retain copyright to their work, and that research outputs be made openly available under a CC-BY licence immediately after publication. Publication in a fully open access journal (where the final version is publicly available) or deposit of the manuscript in Pure (green open access) are both valid routes to compliance.
The European Commission is a supporter of Plan S, and publication requirements for Horizon Europe projects reflect the Plan S principles. As above, authors are expected to retain copyright, and ensure either the final published version or the accepted manuscript for their research is made publicly available under a CC-BY licence.
The University's updated policy on Research Publications and Copyright (in effect from April 2022) also aligns with Plan S principles. This policy confirms that authors retain copyright to their work, and mandates that the author's accepted manuscript must be made open under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) on publication unless the final published version, known as the Version of Record (VoR), has also been made open under the same licence and can be deposited into Pure.
How will I know if I am submitting my paper to a Plan S compliant journal?
The University's updated policy on Research Publications and Copyright ensures authors can comply with Plan S principles no matter which journal they publish in, as it outlines that the accepted manuscript should be deposited in Pure under a CC-BY licence and that the author retains copyright to their work.
Journals which are Plan S compliant in their own right (fully open access, with articles available under a CC-BY licence) are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (Implementation guidance, Part II, §2). Note that 'hybrid' journals which agree to transformative agreements as means to ensure compliance with Plan S, are also acceptable (Implementation guidance, Part II, §3). The University has a number of transformative publisher agreements in place, with a list on their website.
How do I know where to publish?
Authors are encouraged to publish in venues most suitable for their research. The vast majority of publishers most commonly used in Informatics allow for compliance with Plan S principles either as fully open access journals/conferences, or under a transformative agreement. If an author wishes to publish in a 'hybrid' journal which is not covered by a transformative agreement, then green open access is achieved by deposit of the accepted manuscript in Pure under a CC-BY licence in line with the University's updated policy on Research Publications and Copyright.
Author should also ensure that they follow funder policies, as expected by the conditions of their grant. Again, there is a compliant route for most of the commonly used venues in Informatics.
To see if a journal is compliant with your funder's policy, you can use the Journal Checker Tool. This page allows you to input journal and funder information, alongside your affiliation (Edinburgh), and to see if they are compatible.
What about green open access? Should I still deposit papers in Pure?
Yes. Plan S promotes immediate (gold) open access. However, deposit of your author's accepted manuscript (or final version if allowed) to a Plan S compliant repository is acceptable, provided the file can be made available immediately (i.e. with no embargo) and under a CC-BY licence (Implementation guidance, Part II, §2). Both of these requirements are in line with, and supported by, the University's Research Publications and Copyright Policy.
cOAlition S has worked with Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) to evaluate repository compliance with Plan S. Edinburgh Research Explorer (front-end of Pure) meets all requirements and is indexed in OpenDOAR.
Deposit to Pure will remain central in ensuring compliance with the REF open access policy.
How are conference proceedings affected by Plan S?
All peer-reviewed scholarly outputs, including conference proceedings, need to be published in a compliant journal/platform. For conference proceedings where the author retains copyright and which are already published open access with CC-BY licencing (e.g. on some conference websites or platforms like ACL anthology) Plan S implementation has brought about little or no change. In due course, platforms should be indexed in DOAJ as noted above.
For conference papers which are published in journal-like series of conference proceedings (e.g. LNCS), the authors should follow the University's updated Research Publications and Copyright Policy and deposit a copy of the accepted manuscript in Pure under a CC-BY licence. Deposit in this way ensures compliance with Plan S principles.
What if I submitted my paper to a non-compliant journal before January 2021, but it was or will be published after the implementation of Plan S?
Papers submitted for publication prior to implementation of updated open access policies remain exempt.
For example, Wellcome Trust's updated open access policy (which adheres to Plan S principles) applies only to research outputs submitted for publication on or after 01 January 2021. The updated UKRI open access policy applies to outputs submitted for publication on or after 01 April 2022.
What are the consequences if I publish in a non-compliant journal?
In time, cOAlition S funders (which includes UKRI councils), will align grant agreements and/or contracts with Plan S. Funders will monitor and sanction non-compliance on the basis of such agreements or contracts. Possible sanctions may 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' (Implementation guidance, Part II, §7).
Wellcome Trust's updated open access policy state sanctions will apply in cases of non-compliance. These can be applied to individual researchers and organisations, and may include Wellcome not accepting new grant applications or suspending funding in extreme cases (Wellcome OA policy §10). The UKRI open access policy does not specify sanctions in cases of non-compliance, but adherence to the open access policy is an expectation of the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions (RGC 12.4).
Can I still submit papers which are not directly funded by a UKRI council to a non-compliant journal?
Most of the major publication venues used in Informatics adhere to Plan S principles, either being open access as standard (e.g. ACL, JMLR) or covered by a transformative agreement with the University (e.g. Elsevier). Other major venues (e.g. IEEE, ACM) may not have a deal in place with the University, but have committed to a trasnformative model of open access publishing. A summary of common publishers is available on InfWeb (link below). Deposit of your accepted manuscript in Pure under a CC-BY licence meets the requirements of the University's Research Publications & Copyright Policy, and adheres to Plan S principles.
What about junior researchers who might not be able to publish in high-impact journals? Will it affect their career prospects?
Overall, journal impact factors are becoming less important. The University has signed up to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which highlight that research needs to be assessed on its own merits and not on the basis of publication venue. cOAltition S members are expected to implement principles aligning with DORA in their policies by January 2021 (Implementation guidance, Part II, §1). Furthermore, REF guidance states that 'The funding bodies do not sanction or recommend that HEIs rely on citation information to inform the selection of outputs for inclusion in their submissions.' (GoS 292).