Skip to content
Start main Content

Plan S: A New Force in Scholarly Publication Ecosystem

After 1 January 2020 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.” – This is the key principle of Plan S, the mandate proposed by cOAlition S to accelerate the transition of scholarly publishing system towards open access.

Although Plan S primarily affects researchers in Europe, it is generating momentum for a global movement. For example, Ministry of Science and Technology (China) would support Plan S and the goal of immediate Open Access for publicly funded research. For HKUST researchers to have a quick grasp of this initiative, this post highlights some key features of Plan S.

Open Access in Plan S

With Plan S, scholarly publications can be

  • accessed freely online immediately upon publication without any embargo period
  • used and re-used largely without restrictions under an open license; Creative Commons licenses (CC) recommended for all scholarly publications, and by default require the CC BY Attribution 4.0 license for scholarly articles.


cOAlition S issued guidance specifying the paths for implementation regarding scholarly articles. It will issue guidance on Open Access monographs and book chapters at a later stage.

Articles should be published in compliant OA journals or OA platforms; or OA repositories under specified conditions.

Compliant OA journals or platforms

  • must be registered in DOAJ or in the process of being registered
  • openly accessible without any kind of technical or other form of obstacles
  • enable authors to publish under a CC BY 4.0 or CC BY-SA 4.0 or CC0
  • let authors/institutions retain copyright
  • cannot be hybrid OA journals (i.e. journals hosting both OA and subscription-only articles)

Compliant OA repositories

If an article is published in a non-compliant journal or platform, then the article should be put in a compliant repository.

  • Should archive the published version (VoR – Version of Record) or final accepted manuscript (AAM – Author Accepted Manuscript)
  • No embargo period, fully available at the time of publication
  • Authors/institutions must retain copyright
  • Articles must be made available under CC BY 4.0 or CC BY-SA 4.0 or CC0
  • The journal/platform must register self-archiving policy in Sherpa/Romeo
  • The repository must be registered in the OpenDOAR or in the process of being registered


For articles, the public should be granted a worldwide royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to share and adapt the work for any purpose, including commercially, provided proper attribution is given to the author. The copyright of the work is left with the legal copyright holder.

cOAlition S requires the use of CC by 4.0; it will also accept CCBY-SA 4.0, and publishing in the public domain CC0; but it does not accept the non-commercial CC BY NC variants.

Uncertainties, Controversies

While most people would strongly support the goal of making publicly-funded research openly accessible, the way to reach the goal as laid out by Plan S is raising doubts and disagreement from stakeholders including scholars and publishers. For examples, it is not clear yet how Plan S will set the cap to Author Processing Charge (APC) that is required by most publishers for OA articles; the requirements for journal as well as repositories compliance is considered high by many. There is also a concern among researchers that their publishing channels will be limited by this plan.

Additional information

Plan S home page


0 0 votes
Article Rating

Hits: 4006

Go Back to page Top

Tags: ,

published January 30, 2019
last modified March 11, 2022

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments