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cOAlition S and repositories (part I)

cOAlition S funders’ repository requirements: unity in diversity

When Plan S was launched in 2018, it gained a reputation as a Gold Open Access (OA) initiative focused on paying for Article Processing Charges (APC). See for example “Plan S: A mandate for Gold OA with lots of strings attached.” That may have been fair criticism at the time. However, Plan S was revised in 2019 in response to community feedback (>600 responses). As a result, greater emphasis was given to Open Access via repositories.

Put simply, Plan S has as its core principle that the results from research funded by its organisations must be published in immediate OA with a public open licence. That can be achieved via one of three routes. One of those three routes to OA is publication in a subscription journal with a copy of the peer reviewed work (Author’s Accepted Manuscript – AAM) made immediately available in a repository. This is commonly referred to as ‘Green’ OA. Plan S also states that “cOAlition S strongly encourages the deposition of all publications in a repository, irrespective of the chosen route to compliance. Several cOAlition S members require deposition of all attributed research articles in a repository.”

cOAlition S requirements and repositories

cOAlition S is a global alliance, and intends to increase global spread and reach for OA. The group also aims to promote a diversity of OA models. cOAlition S comprises a diverse set of organisations that are in the process of aligning their OA policies with Plan S principles. Individual policies may result in slightly differing preferences for deposit in a repository. For example:

  • European Commission: Horizon 2020 OA policy: Mandatory for all articles. “Beneficiaries must deposit a machine-readable electronic copy of the published version or final peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication in a repository for scientific publications. This must be done as soon as possible and at the latest upon publication. This step applies even where open access publishing (‘gold’ open access) is chosen to ensure that the article is preserved in the long term.”
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) Open science policy: Mandatory for all articles. “As part of the ANR’s contribution to … open science, and in line with the National Plan for Open Science, the funded project coordinator and partners must undertake to submit the scientific publications (full text) resulting from the research project to an open archive, either directly in HAL [French national repository] or via a local institutional archive, in accordance with the conditions in article 30 of the French “For a digital republic” act.”
  • Wellcome Trust OA policy from 1st January 2020: Mandatory for all articles. “All research articles supported in whole or in part by Wellcome must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC by the official final publication date…

Such mandatory requirements for all articles find their origin in the Berlin Declaration on OA which is cited in Plan S (my emphasis):

A complete version of the work … is deposited (and thus published) in at least one online repository using suitable technical standards … that is supported and maintained by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving.”

This requires distributed control or governance of the repository and its content; governance that does not prioritise commercial considerations (e.g. shareholder dividends); openness and sharing in all aspects; and focus on longevity. There are examples of different types of repositories that fulfil this remit, including subject repositories (e.g. EPMC), general open repositories (e.g. Zenodo); National/Regional repositories (e.g. La Referencia, HAL or Jisc Research Repository); Institutional repositories owned and managed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) (see OpenDOAR). Such repositories tend to publicly state a commitment to longevity and/or an exit strategy (to be implemented if the service were to close for any reason). For example, see the Zenodo terms on ‘Longevity,’ ‘Retention’ and ‘Succession’ and HAL which sends files to the publicly owned CINES for long-term archiving. This chimes with the cOAlition S priorities for openness combined with a clear commitment to longevity and preservation.

Even with a preservation policy, a repository might include terms and conditions that appear to conflict with that policy. For example, in Figshare (my emphasis):

While Figshare is not responsible for any User Submission, it reserves the right to remove or block any User Submission from the Service at any time, without notice and for any reason.


Figshare reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to change, suspend, or discontinue any part of the Service at any time without notice to you. This may involve the removal of any Content from the Service.”


In the next blog, I shall explore why cOAlition S wishes to reap the many benefits of repositories.

Sally Rumsey

Sally Rumsey is cOAlition S OA Expert and an employee of Jisc. She was previously (to Dec 2019) Head of Scholarly Communications & RDM, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford where she managed the University’s repository service for all types of research outputs, Oxford University Research Archive (ORA and ORA-Data), advised on all aspects of scholarly communications, and drafted University policies and documents on open access. She liaised with Oxford researchers to define library support requirements for Open Scholarship. Sally is a member of the UKSCL (Scholarly Communications Licence) group and a member of the Knowledge Exchange Open Scholarship Experts Group. Sally represented Oxford University on the LERU (League of European Universities) OA Info-Group. She has given numerous presentations about OA topics, including at RLUK, FORCE19, ESHRE, Open Pharma, Oxford-Berlin Open Research Summer School, and across Oxford University.