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Open access explained

Plan S

What is Plan S?

Plan S is an initiative to move more quickly to full and immediate open access for funded research. Plan S came into force on 1 January 2021.  

Plan S funders, including Wellcome, will no longer cover the cost of open access publishing in subscription journals (called “Hybrid OA”).  

From 1st January 2021, Plan S funders won’t fund APCs for Hybrid OA journals unless the publishers 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 using the Sherpa Romeo service.  

Journals are expected to be transparent about costs and provide detailed descriptions of editorial policies. There must be a system of robust peer review that adheres to the Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines

Find out about the 10 principles of Plan S

Why do we need Plan S? 

Watch our training video

Watch a recording of a webinar providing an overview of Plan S.

What action do I need to take?

Continue to check your funder’s open access policy before submission and to deposit all author accepted manuscripts via Symplectic

Use this Journal Checker Tool  to see if your chosen journal is compliant with Plan S. This is an early “beta” service so use it with caution. If you are unsure of the information provided, please contact the Library for help.

The Journal Tracker Tool will flag UKRI as non-compliant until their open access policy comes into force in Spring 2021. Please use SHERPA/FACT to check UKRI compliance in the meantime. 

Plan S funders currently funding University of Leeds research:

Please note that the UKRI’s Plan S-aligned policy is now expected Spring 2021. UKRI’s existing open access requirements will continue as normal until the new policy comes into force.   

The COAlition’s website has a full list of Plan S supporting organisations.

As of January 2021, Plan S funded researchers must choose from one of the following routes to achieve compliance: 

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 forbids zero embargoes, you still have the rights to make your author accepted manuscript available immediately. 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.” 

  • Deposit a copy of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) via Symplectic immediately on acceptance and link it to your funding.

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 the ESAC Registry for transformative agreements available to UK institutions where you may be able to publish in journals without incurring an article processing charge.  

Please email to check your eligibility.

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.  

Open Access Journals 

Plan S funders will fund article processing charges in fully open access journals, so long as they detail their costs and editorial processes in accordance with Plan S requirements. You still need to deposit research outputs via Symplectic on acceptance.  

Support for Journal Editors 

Editors should engage with journal boards to influence the transition to open access. The University of California has issued guides and checklists for editors.   

Journal editors can discuss transforming business models to open access with Jisc. 

You can also apply for transformative journal status. Another way to transition to open access is via Diamond open access. This model has no article processing charges or transformative arrangements in place. Instead, costs for open access are through donation, crowd funding or grants. This might be a viable option for not-for-profit publishers.