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Plan S

Research funders in Europe announce 'Plan S' to make all scientific works free to read as soon as they are published.

Plan S

A new initiative to accelerate the transition to full and immediate open access to research publications was announced by Science Europe, under the name of ‘Plan S’.  Launched by the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, it was further developed by the President of Science Europe.  Endorsed by a group of Science Europe member organisations (including UKRI and the Wellcome Trust), it puts forward a number of fundamental principles for developing Open Access to publications more fully. The ERC Scientific Council has decided to support the initiative.

Below is a downloadable summary poster with key facts and points to consider that you can circulate to colleagues.


The key Plan S principles are as follows:

  • No scholarly publication should be locked behind a paywall.
  • Open Access should be immediate, ie without embargoes.
  • Full Open Access is implemented by the default use of a Creative Commons Attribution CC BY licence.
  • Funders commit to support Open Access publication fees at a reasonable level.
  • Funders will not support publication in hybrid (or mirror/sister) journals unless they are part of a transformative arrangement with a clearly defined endpoint.

Revised guidance has been published for the implementation of Plan S. The full statement on the revisions made to the policy can be read on the Plan S website here:

Research Funders

The fact that this initiative was developed and launched with a group of high-profile research funders lends it considerable weight, and it seems that there will finally be some alignment in Open Access policy – which will make things easier both for authors and for the librarians and administrative staff supporting them. In the UK Plan S has been endorsed and will be implemented by the following research funders:

UKRI - which includes all seven research councils (AHRC, BBSRC, MRC etc)

UKRI is seeking views on its proposed open access policy and related considerations via a consultation, which opens on 13 February 2020 and closes at noon on 17 April 2020UKRI expects the revised policy to apply for certain research outputs from 1 Jan 2022. More detailed information is available on the UKRI OA review webpage:

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust have a new OA policy that  will apply to any article that includes original, peer-reviewed research and is submitted for publication from 1 January 2021. More information is available from their webpages here:

Plan S response submitted by the University of Edinburgh 

In principle, the Library Research Support Team welcomes this initiative as it should finally provide a means of moving away from the ‘hybrid’ model - which sees us paying article processing charges (APCs) and subscriptions to the same journals. Also the enforcement of embargo periods, some of great length in certain subject areas, has meant that our most recent research was not available to the general public when that knowledge was most recent, and perhaps at its most useful.

The primary aim of Plan S is to incentivise publishers to change their business models to Gold Open Access, whereby APCs are charged but no subscription.  Some publishers are claiming that authors will no longer be able to publish in their journals - but this would not be the case if they were to change some of their policies.  

The University has consulted widely to find out how Plan S will affect its academic staff, departments and the broader academic community. Feedback was gathered from a series of eight open meetings, which were attended by over 260 staff, held during the period 23rd – 30th January 2019. Based on feedback gathered at these meetings, the University has submitted the following response to COAlition S:



Research Policy Group, Library Committee, College Research Committees and the University Executive have all received papers on Plan S, and will be kept up to date with any future developments. 


Further information For enquiries about Plan S, please contact:

Scholarly Communications Team

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  • You can book a one-to one video consultation with an expert from our team. If you want to find out more about open access (journals, funding, policies etc ), Copyright & Intellectual Property, General publishing activities (request an ISBN or DOI), or research metrics (using Web Of Science or Scopus) please contact our team via email to book a session at a time that suits you.