Plan S came into force on the 1 January 2021.  The initiative, formed by a consortium of national research agencies and funders across Europe, known as the cOAlition sets out to reform the academic publishing system, so that research is made freely available from the point of publication.

Plan S principles

  • Plan S Funders do not support the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing unless they have signed up to a “transformative agreement” or “transformative journal” to change their business model to full open access. From 2024 Plan S funders will cease funding APCs for hybrid altogether. 
  • Under the Plan S rights retention strategy you can publish in any journal, hybrid or subscription and deposit your Author Accepted Manuscript with zero embargo. This is green open access and incurs no charge. You can also select a journal which has a zero embargo policy. 
  • Open access should be immediate and without embargoes
  • Authors or their institutions retain copyright of their works under the use of a Creative Commons Attribution CC BY licence as per the Berlin Declaration
  • Funders shall develop criteria and requirements for the services that Open access journals, platforms, and repositories must provide
  • Open Access publication fees must be commensurate with the publication services delivered and fees must be transparent to inform the market and funders potential standardisation and capping of payments of fees.

What do I have to do?

If you are funded by Wellcome, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, European Commission, World Health Organisation, the Research Council of Norway or any other Plan S funders you must comply with the new Plan S aligned policies.  Please note that UKRI’s Plan S-aligned OA policy is due to come into force in Spring 21.

Routes of Publication to Plan S Compliance

Transformative Agreements

You can publish in any journal that has signed up to a transformative agreement to make the transition to open access. These contracts merge the costs for both journal access and publishing.   

You can check our current institutional agreements where you may be able to publish in journals without incurring an article processing charge.  

Transformative Journals  

Plan S will fund publication costs for any journal under a transformative arrangement, whereby the journal takes steps to become fully open access. Nature has recently signed up as a transformative journal.  

Green Open Access 

Plan S funded researchers can publish in any journal – including subscription journals and comply via the Green route with zero embargo.  Plan S funders are changing grant conditions so that a CC-BY license can be applied to all Author Accepted Manuscripts by default.  This means that even if your journal’s policy does not allow zero embargoes, you’ll still have the rights to make your author accepted manuscript available immediately.  The only exception to this if the publisher notifies the cOAlition that they will not accept rights retention requests. In this case the publisher will forego any future funds from Plan S funders as the publisher will be marked as non-compliant and no other routes (such as transformative arrangements) will be permitted.

   If your publisher doesn’t allow zero embargoes: 

  • You must inform your publisher that the submission is already licensed under a CC-BY license
  • Use the proposed text in either the submission letter or the acknowledgements section, or both: 

“This research was funded, in whole or in part, by [funder, grant number]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC-BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) version arising from this submission.” 

How do I know which Journals are compliant with Plan S?

The Journal Checker Tool is an online tool which provides guidance to researchers on how they can comply with their funder’s Plan S-aligned Open Access policy when seeking to publish in the journal of their choice. 

Further help

Should you have any questions regarding Plan S please contact the Research Support Team ( or check out our Plan S webpages.