Plan S FAQs

Frequently asked questions relating to Plan S.

What does implementation of Plan S from January 2021 actually mean?

The cOAlition S implementation guidance (310519) suggest that members (i.e. funders) have some flexibility in implementing the Plan S principles. At the latest, funders must apply Plan S principles to pulications resulting from grants published, or application deadlines, after 01 Januray 2021. However, funders are encouraged to implement principles to publications resulting from grants awarded from 01 January 2021, and so calls with deadlines prior to this may be affected (Implementation guidance, Part II, §8).

Wellcome Trust have published an updated open access policy which adheres to Plan S principles. By this policy, outputs resulting from a grant must comply with the new policy if submitted for publication on or after 01 January 2021.

UKRI are currently performing an review of their open access policy, which is expected to conclude in late 2019. Following consultation, the new policy is expected to come into effect in March 2020. More information on the practicalities of Plan S implementation are expected to follow. 

The European Commission is a supporter of Plan S, but confirmed in April 2019 that Plan S requirements will not apply to existing Horizon 2020 grants (which are already subject to other open access requirements). The Commission is working on implementing Plan S requirements for Horison Europe (the R&D programme following Horizon 2020).

Plan S implementation guidance from the cOAlition S website (310519)

Wellcome Trust updated open access policy

Open access policy review information from the UKRI website

Minutes of European Commission meeting where Plan S was discussed

How will I know if I am submitting my paper to a Plan S compliant journal?

Compliant journals will be 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). More information will follow on journals which are included in such agreements once they are finalised.

DOAJ website

Plan S implementation guidance from the cOAlition S website (310519)

Alongside the indexing in DOAJ, the University's Scholarly Communiucations will list all transformative publisher agreements on their website once they have been negotiated.

Publisher discount schemes from Scholarly Communications

How do I know where to publish?

Although new Open Access guidance is still to follow from UKRI, Scholarly Communications advise that authors can prepare for Plan S by considering the below when deciding where to submit a paper:

What? Why? Where?
Don't publish in hybrid journals Hybrid journals are not compatible with Plan S principles and are expected to be disallowed in updated funder policies adhering to these principles.

The RDM team can advise on whether the journal you are considering has a hybrid business model or not. Contact Victoria on

Check funder requirements As part of your grant, you are expected to follow the funder's policies. As part of this, you should ensure you follow the funder's policy on publications and open access requirements. 

For an overview of your publisher's open access conditions, see Sherpa Juliet where you can search for your funder.

Link to Sherpa Juliet 

To see if a journal is compliant with your funder's policy, you can use the Sherpa FACT tool. This page allows you to input journal and funder information, and to see if they are compatible.

Link to Sherpa FACT

Look ahead to REF compliance No matter the change to funder policy in response to Plan S, the REF open access requirements remain and you should ensure that your journal allows for compliance with the established REF open access policy.

Sherpa REF allows to you search for journals and check if they are compatible with REF open access policy. The unit of assessment for Informatics (UoA 11) sits in Main Panel B.

Link to Sherpa REF

REF open access policy

Understand the journal's copyright policy One of the Plan S principles refers to authors retaining copyright for their work. By checking the summary for your considered journal, you may better understand the outcome of signing over copyright to the publisher.

Sherpa Romeo provides overviews of relevant policies for journals, and links to the specific guidance for authors.

Link to Sherpa Romeo

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 avilable immediately (i.e. with no embargo) and under a CC-BY licence (Implementation guidance, Part II, §2). cOAlition S will work with Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) to evaluate repository compliance with Plan S, but Edinburgh Research Explorer (front-end of Pure) is expected to meet the requirements. 

cOAlition S further encourage deposit of publications to repositories regardless of where the paper is published. 

Deposit to Pure will remain central in ensuring compliance with the REF open access policy. 

Plan S implementation guidance from the cOAlition S website (310519)

OpenDOAR website

REF open access policy

How are conference proceedings affected by Plan S?

All scholarly outputs, including conference proceedings, will 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 should bring 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), there may be some considerations required with regards to Plan S as the publishing platform would be required to be registered with DOAJ (meeting the required conditions of registration).

What if I submit my paper to a non-compliant journal before January 2021, but it will be published after the implementation of Plan S?

Papers submitted for publication prior to January 2021 are expected to be exempt from revised open access policies which implement Plan S.

For example, Wellcome Trust's updated open access policy (which adheres to Plan S principles) will only apply to research outputs submitted for publication on or after 01 January 2021. More information is expected to follow for UKRI councils in light of the UKRI open access policy review. 

Wellcome Trust updated open access policy

Open access policy review information from the UKRI website

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 santions 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 reviewed 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). More information is expected to follow for UKRI councils following the UKRI open access policy review. 

Plan S implementation guidance from the cOAlition S website (310519)

Wellcome Trust updated open access policy

Open access policy review information from the UKRI website

Can I still submit papers which are not directly funded by a UKRI council to a non-compliant journal?

Probably, but with careful consideration. If your work is not supported by funding from a cOAlition S funder (e.g. UKRI, Wellcome Trust), and your paper is not subject to grant conditions  based on policy adhering to Plan S, then you are free to publish in any journal/platform. Consider, however, that your work would need to be clearly decoupled from any funding you may be in receipt of, to ensure you do not break grant agreements. This point is expected to be further clarified once UKRI release an updated open access policy which implements Plan S (expected late 2019, with implementation from March 2020). 

Open access policy review information from the UKRI website

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 is signing up to the DORA responsible metrics, which highlight that research needs to be assesed 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).

DORA homepage 

Plan S implementation guidance from the cOAlition S website (310519)

Guidance on submissions (REF 2019/01) from the REF2021 website