Importance and Impact of Plan S in Open Access Publishing >

Importance and Impact of Plan S in Open Access Publishing

 [Approximate Reading Time : 4 mins]

What is Plan S?

Coalition S is a group of 15 research funding organizations and charities. They initiated Plan S in 2018, the primary goal of which was to get research funded by public grants published with open access (OA). Plan S also had principles that discussed copyrights, funding, revenue sources, and timelines within which the transformation had to occur. Initially, 2020 was the deadline to make this transition to the OA model of publishing, but the situation proved to be more complex.

The 10 principles

  1. Authors or their institutions retain the copyright. Research must be published under an open or Creative Commons Attribution license.
  2. The funders develop criteria and requirements that publishing platforms must follow.
  3. The funders have to coordinate and support the establishment of OA infrastructure if necessary.
  4. The funders and institutions must cover OA fees wherever applicable.
  5. When OA fees are collected, the fee structure must include the services delivered and be transparent. This helps in the standardization and capping of fees.
  6. Governments, universities, libraries, research organizations, and societies must align their strategies, policies, and practices to ensure transparency.
  7. The timeline for monographs and books will be longer and will follow a different approach.
  8. The hybrid model of publishing is accepted only as a transitional option while shifting to OA.
  9. The funders will check for compliance.
  10. During funding decisions, the research outputs are assessed based only on the merit of the work and no other journal metrics.


Traditional journals use transformative agreements (TAs) to change the contract between the publishers, readers, and libraries. Plan S required these negotiations to be finalized by the end of 2021 and last for a maximum of three years within which the shift to OA had to be completed. This provides time and space for publishers to make major changes in their workflows and comply with Plan S. After transitioning, publishers will not get subscription fees. Instead, the funders will pay the charges for publishing. Libraries will spend the same. They will pay for publishing the works of affiliated authors instead of subscriptions.

What does this mean for OA publishing?

Plan S mandates golden OA publishing with CC BY licensing, which makes it free to read and download articles without any obstacle. The journals will have a solid review system and will be listed in the DOAJ. The goals of Plan S, even though they are taking a long time to achieve, accelerate the shift to a complete OA publishing industry. It is finding solutions for the problematic areas in transition and renders aid to both open and subscription journals. OA is the future, and the industry is preparing for it.

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