UCL News


Plan S: a radical framework from European funders for Open Access compliance

6 June 2019

On Friday, 31 May 2019, cOALitiion S issued its revised Implementation framework for Plan S. Plan S is a structure devised by Science Europe to deliver immediate 100% Open Access (OA) to all its funded research outputs.

Plan S

Plan S identifies three mechanisms for delivering Open Access:

  1. Route 1: A move to abandon the payment of Article Processing Charges (APC) by requiring publishers to flip their publishing models to fully Open Access models by 2024. After 1 January 2021, publishing in a Hybrid journal which charges APCs will only be allowed where the journal/publisher is discussing a transformative agreement with the relevant national or regional consortium. After 31 December 2024, however, the research funder will not allow APCs as an eligible cost against research grants. Universities have no funds to pay these charges and so compliance with the funder’s requirements will only be possible by publishing in a fully Open Access journal, or by routes 2 or 3 described below. Monographs are currently exempt from the Plan S policy.
  2. Route 2: Publishing on an Alternative Publishing Platform, such as UCL Press, is also compliant with the requirements of Plan S.
  3. Route 3: Deposit in a Green Open Access repository such as UCL Discovery is also compliant with funder requirements.
  4. In terms of licensing and copyright management, the author will be required to retain copyright and not assign it to a publisher. In terms of licensing individual research outputs, a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY) licence is preferred. In individual cases, it may be possible by agreement to use a CC BY-ND (No Derivatives) licence.

Plan S, which has been agreed by UKRI and the Wellcome Trust amongst others, represents a fundamental change to the way outputs funded by the signatories of Plan S can be disseminated. UKRI has yet to produce its revised Open Access policy. It is expected in 2020 and is likely to be closely aligned to that of Plan S. A separate OA policy will govern REF outputs for the REF after 2021. There will be a separate REF consultation, and subsequent analysis, in 2020. Follow the links below for further information.

LERU (League of European Research Universities) has issued a PR statement analyzing the impact of Plan S on universities. 

The revised Implementation Plan for Plan S shows a good deal of softening in terms of its requirements. This is certainly in response to user feedback, as cOAlition S received over 600 responses to its consultation. The coalition is to be congratulated on its openness to change.

Nevertheless, as the LERU statement shows, there remain considerable challenges in implementing Plan S. The LERU Rectors have acknowledged this by issuing a separate statement on the importance of Leadership in the age of Open Science.

Whilst the changes envisaged by Plan S are still a year or so away, it is not too soon for UCL to start planning how these changes will take effect. There is more information on UCL’s open access webpages. If you have any questions about Plan S, please contact UCL's Open Access Team.