Plan S

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Plan S is an international initiative established in 2018 to promote open access publishing. The consortium supporting Plan S is known as cOAlition S and currently consists of funding agencies, scientific foundations, and research organizations. This consortium includes the European Commission, 21 national funding agencies from Africa, Australia, Europe, and Canada, as well as seven international and charitable organizations, namely Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Templeton World Charity Foundation, World Health Organization, WHO – Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, and Wellcome Trust. In Slovenia, the Slovenian Research and Innovation Agency (ARIS) is a member of cOAlition S, and as a member of the European Commission, Slovenia also adheres to its jurisdiction. While some organizations may not have joined the initiative, they still share similar values and requirements with cOAlition S regarding funding recipients. For more information on open access policies worldwide, you can visit our page dedicated to this topic.

In addition to the information provided on this page, CTK UL has prepared an in-depth lecture on Plan S. You can watch the lecture in the Slovenian language by clicking on the video below.

The Values Underlying Plan S

Plan S operates under the fundamental principle that for science to thrive and operate effectively, unrestricted access to all research findings must be granted to the scientific community. By ensuring such accessibility, the scientific community can actively construct new knowledge upon existing foundations, engage in critical analysis, and reassess the current understanding of various subjects.

The paywalls imposed by contemporary scientific publishers create barriers for a significant portion of the scientific community and the general public, hindering their access to research outcomes. These obstacles not only impede scientific progress and restrict the dissemination of knowledge within society, but also contradict the fundamental principles of scientific ethics. In the 21st century, such circumstances are no longer justifiable. Publishers should transition from subscription and hybrid models to service-oriented models that facilitate the wide dissemination of scientific findings by the research community.

As part of Plan S, it is mandated that starting from 2021, all research papers supported by cOAlition S members must be published in open access journals, platforms, or repositories without any embargo. This requirement applies uniformly across cOAlition S members, irrespective of whether they are public agencies or private foundations. For funders who joined Plan S after January 2020, these rules come into effect within one year of their membership.

The 10 Principles of Plan S

  1. Authors or their institutions retain copyright to their publications. According to the Berlin Declaration, all publications must be published under an open license, preferably CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution). You can read more about Plan S-compliant licenses on our data licensing page.
  2. Funders will establish rigorous criteria and requirements that must be met by high-quality open access journals, open access platforms, and open access repositories.
  3. In situations where such journals or platforms are not yet available, the funders will collaboratively develop incentives to encourage their establishment and provide support. Additionally, funders will offer assistance in establishing the necessary infrastructure for open access.
  4. Where applicable, the costs associated with open access fees will be covered by the funders or institutions, relieving researchers of this financial burden. It is the aim to ensure that all researchers have the opportunity to publish their work in open access formats.
  5. Funders endorse the diverse range of business models employed by open access journals and platforms. It is expected that open access fees are reasonable and proportionate to the services provided, ensuring transparency for both the market and funders. In certain cases, if deemed necessary, fee payments may be capped to promote standardization.
  6. Funders encourage governments, universities, research organizations, libraries, academies and professional societies to align their strategies, policies and practices for transparency.
  7. The principles listed above apply to all types of scientific publications. However, it is understood that open access for monographs and book chapters will require a dedicated, separate and longer process.
  8. Funders do not support the "hybrid" publishing model. However, this model can be partially financed during the transition period with a clearly defined timeline and only as part of transformative contracts.
  9. Funders will monitor compliance with the rules and sanction non-compliant beneficiaries/grantees.
  10. Funders pledge to assess the inherent value of research when making funding decisions. Evaluation criteria will focus on the research work itself, rather than the publication channel, impact factor, or specific publishers.

How to Ensure Compliance with Plan S?

Compliance with Plan S can be achieved through both the green, gold and diamond and hybrid routes (under transformative contracts). Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer from Utrecht University Library have collected all the possible routes to compliance on their blog, and by May 2019 they had listed nine. These options are clearly shown in the table below (click on the image to enlarge).

Devet poti do skladnosti z Načrtom S / Nine routes towards Plan S compliance

The choice of the publishing route depends mainly on the publisher. You can refer to Sherpa Romeo website to access the policies of individual publishers, and for research funders' policies, you can consult the Sherpa Juliet website. For your convenience, cOAlition S has developed an online Journal Checker Tool. This tool allows you to verify the compatibility between your funder, research organization, and the selected scientific journal. To understand how this tool operates, you can watch the instructional video below.

Last update: 2 June 2022


Open access refers to the unrestricted and free availability of publications on the World Wide Web, accompanied by the use of open licenses for copyright management. With open licenses, users are granted the freedom to read and download the complete content of publications, as well as the ability to determine the conditions for reproduction, use, distribution, and public display. This enables responsible reuse of the content in various digital mediums and for a wide range of purposes.

You can read more about open access on the Open Library website.

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