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Plan S

Plan S

What is Plan S?

Plan S is an open access publishing initiative that aims to accelerate the transition to full and immediate open access to research outputs. Plan S has one target and ten principles, along with guidance for implementation. The principles of Plan S include:

  • all scholarly publications should be immediately open access immediately (no embargo)
  • authors or institutions should retain copyright to their work
  • outputs must be published with a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY)
  • research should be assessed on its intrinsic merit, not the publication venue
  • Plan S is not supported by the "hybrid" model of publishing

Plan S outlines three possible routes to compliance:

  1. Publishing in fully open access journals or platforms
  2. Open access in repositories without embargo
  3. Transformative Agreements

Plan S is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders including the European Commission, UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, who have agreed to implement the principles of Plan S together in a coordinated way.

Plan S Rights Retention Strategy

Under the Plan S Rights Retention strategy, cOAlition S funders will change their grant conditions to require that a CC BY licence is granted to all future research articles arising from grant funding - Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) or Version of Record (VoR), or to require that all research articles are licensed with CC BY. This will give researchers supported by cOAlition S funders the freedom to publish in any journal they choose, whilst continuing to be able to comply with Plan S principles and their funder policy by making their work immediately open access with a CC BY licence. Read the FAQs.

What does Plan S mean for researchers?

cOAlition S funders have committed to implementing Plan S. The Plan S principles apply from 01 January 2021, but individual funders’ open access policies will differ in the date from which they apply.


Wellcome Trust open access policy 2021 applies to peer-reviewed original research articles submitted from 01 January 2021 and requires immediate open access with a CC BY (only) licence. The Wellcome Trust's existing open access policy for monographs and book chapters still applies.

The new UKRI open access policy was launched on 6th August 2021 and requires immediate open access with a CC BY licence to journal articles submitted for publication on or after 1st April 2022 and open access within 12 months to longer form outputs such as monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1st January 2024.
The UKRI open access review will feed into a review of the REF open access policy. Until the new policies are published / come into effect, current UK Research Councils and REF open access policies apply.

How is the University of Exeter responding to Plan S?

A policy for managing our central open access funds came into effect on 01 January 2021. Funds will be prioritised to support publishing in fully open access journals, on fully open access platforms and Transformative Agreements with publishers. This aligns with the aim of Plan S to deliver immediate open access to research outputs and the principle not to support the “hybrid” model of publishing.
The University of Exeter signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) in June 2020. DORA aims to improve the way in which outputs of research are evaluated, eliminating the use of journal-based metrics and focussing on the intrinsic merit of research itself, a key principle of Plan S.