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cOAlition S releases the Journal Checker Tool, a search engine that checks Plan S compliance


cOAlition S is excited to announce today, 18 November, the release of the Journal Checker Tool (JCT) in beta. The JCT is a web-based tool which provides clear advice to researchers on how they can comply with their funder’s Plan S-aligned Open Access policy when seeking to publish in their chosen journal. During this open testing phase, the community will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the JCT and provide feedback, so that the tool increases its readiness ahead of the implementation of Plan S in January 2021.

An online, factual, and easy-to-use tool

The Journal Checker Tool enables researchers to quickly identify journals or platforms that provide routes to compliance with Plan S. In this first release the tool provides information on a basic set of Plan S requirements: whether a given journal offers a route to open access compliance with a CC BY (or equivalent) licence and no embargo, and the ability to retain sufficient copyright to enable open access. In due course, the tool will extend its query to include the other (technical) requirements as set by cOAlition S.

Using the JCT is simple: the user supplies the name of their preferred journal and then selects their cOAlition S Organisation and the institution they are affiliated with. The combination of these data instantaneously yields a result that allows the user to see how their choice of journal is compliant with Plan S: via fully open access journals and platforms, through self-archiving (either via the publishers’ own policy or the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) or through Transformative Arrangements. If multiple routes to compliance are available, the JCT provides basic instructions on what to do next on the particular route chosen by the researcher. Where no route to compliance is available, the JCT offers suggestions about how to edit the search to find a combination that enables compliance.

The JCT relies upon data from the Directory of Open Access Journals, Shareyourpaper.org Permissions, the ESAC Transformative Agreement Registry, Crossref and the Research Organization Registry Community (ROR). As part of the development of the JCT, an index of Transformative Agreements based on those listed within the ESAC Transformative Agreement Registry has been created, as well as a list of cOAlition S approved Transformative Journals. The accuracy of the results produced by the JCT is dependent on the freshness of data held within these sources, which is often provided by publishers, consortia and institutions. We anticipate that the test period is likely to involve a certain amount of data validation and updating.

Helping researchers comply with their organisation’s Open Access mandate

The work on the Journal Checker Tool was monitored by a dedicated group of cOAlition S members. Hans de Jonge, Chair of the JCT Implementation Group and Head of Open Science policies at the Dutch Research Council NWO, highlights: “We are conscious that the compliance requirements set by cOAlition S may be confusing to researchers, especially for those starting to find their way in the complexities of Open Access publishing. The Journal Checker Tool provides a simple, easy to use solution to check whether a journal or platform complies with the policies of Plan S. We are convinced that the tool will meet a keen demand. We are grateful to our partners who provide the rich array of data used to build the tool. I hope the Journal Checker Tool will in time grow to become the central/authoritative source of transparent information on Open Access journals and platforms”.

The JCT is expected to act as a modern-day Ariadne’s thread to enabling immediate open access through Plan S. The next release of the tool will, with its initial features, be available by the end of 2020, in time for the implementation of Plan S on 1 January 2021. Further features of the tool, will be added iteratively during 2021 and beyond.  To learn more about the JCT and how it works, visit https://journalcheckertool.org  and read our explanatory blog posts.


The JCT was developed by Cottage Labs, in partnership with Antleaf consultancy, with Shareyourpaper.org Permissions and Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) as data providers.

Related links

Demo video