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Scholarly Communication


cOAlition S and Plan S

In September 2018, a group of European funders called cOAlition S announced they were signed up to a set of principles called Plan S. Plan S is a set of principles not policies in themselves. The key principle is:

“After 1 January 2021 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe)
  • The Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, notably to ensure transparency
  • 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 2021
  • 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
  • The ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles
  • The Funders will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. 

On 28 November 2018, cOAlition S released the draft Guidance on the implementation of Plan S which asked for feedback by 8 February 2019 which attracted a significant response.

Signatories to Plan S

In November 2018, Wellcome Trust announced that they are signatories of Plan S. This means that the rules will apply to any funded paper submitted for pubication after 1 January 2021.

UKRI is one of the signatories of Plan S but they will be reviewing their Open Access policy during 2019, releasing their new policy towards the end of the year. It is our understanding that QR funding (allocated through the Research Excellence Framework) will not be included in the Plan S requirements.

There is some discussion about Plan S on the Unlocking Research blog from the Office of Scholarly Communicaton, including a list of news items and commentary on Plan S​

The University's response

The University of Cambridge is committed to ensuring that our research, and the research that we publish, is robust, reproducible, relevant and world-changing. The dissemination of research to the widest possible audience of stakeholders, both within the UK and internationally, is fundamental to the mission of the University and its publisher, Cambridge University Press. We enthusiastically support advances and innovation in Open Research, including Open Access, and are pleased to see the UK at the forefront of this movement.

The University's full response to cOAlition S on the implementation guidance for Plan S is available here together with the accompanying appendices.

Relevant documents from Science Europe


Please direct any questions regarding Plan S to the Open Access Team:


Phone: 01223 7 65740

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