Plan S


Making full and immediate Open Access a reality

Which licences are compliant with Plan S?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 16/07/2020

For any chosen route to compliance, the public must be granted a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable licence to share and adapt the article for any purpose. cOAlition S recommends using Creative Commons licences and requires using a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) 4.0 by default. CC-BY-SA and CC0 are acceptable alternatives. CC-BY-ND can only be assigned if the author(s) explicitly request and justify its application to their funder(s) and the request is approved by their funder. For more details see Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S and check the individual funder’s information.

Why are cOAlition S funders changing their grant conditions to mandate their funded researchers to retain a CC BY licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) for publications arising from their grants?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

The Plan S Rights Retention Strategy has been developed to give researchers supported by a cOAlition S Organisation the freedom to publish in their journal of choice, by providing grantees with the ability to immediately self-archive papers published in subsciption journals, irrespective of restrictions or embargo periods imposed by publishers.

When will cOAlition S funders change their grant conditions to mandate their funded researchers to retain a CC BY licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) for publications arising from their grants?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

Funders will begin implementing changes in their grant conditions from 1 January 2021. For details see the cOAlition S Organisations implementation webpage.

How do authors benefit from retaining the rights to their own works?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

By retaining their rights to their own work, authors are able to use and re-use their work as they choose. This may include actions such as freely distributing copies of the work via any research network they choose, freedom to use their work within any other work of their own or anyone else’s, freedom to use the work for teaching as they choose, freedom to share the work as they choose, and so on.

What happens if an author doesn’t notify the publisher in advance that the author has applied a CC-BY license to the AAM, and signs a license with the publisher?

Published on: 30/07/2020

If the author in their submission of the manuscript hadn’t identified the prior licence which will apply to any AAM arising from that submission, or that they were funded by a member of cOAlition S then, we accept that the author hasn’t taken all the steps requested of them and that the publisher has dealt with the manuscript without there being a clear notice of the prior CC BY licence to the AAM.

Assuming the author self-archives the AAM in a repository, an issue is only likely to arise when/if the publisher challenges the presence of the AAM on that repository via a take-down notice. We hope that once the publisher was made aware of the author’s oversight, that they would respect the obligations the author was under with their funder and withdraw the takedown notice. It is unlikely that a funder would encourage a repository to resist such takedown notice if the publisher want to pursue the matter.  

 However, if an author, in their submission, makes it clear that  “this work is funded by (for example) Wellcome”, we would rely on the fact that publishers have been told that CC BY licences apply to AAMs from Wellcome funded authors (despite the words CC BY having been omitted), and as such we would help resist a take-down notice on the basis that the publisher did have knowledge of the prior licence.

 As, in this example, the researcher has not fulfilled the requirements of their grant conditions (i.e. by making it clear to the publisher than any AAMs arising from their submission is already licensed CC BY) It would be a matter for the particular funder to decide how to address the breach of their funding conditions by the author.

What rights statements must I include in my accepted manuscript (AAM)?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

In the manuscript you submit for consideration by a journal you should include:

  • Name of your funder and your grant number
  • Text to indicate that the submission is already licensed CC BY. For example: “This work was funded by [funder name] [grant number] For the purpose of Open Access the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.” Check your own grant agreement or the cOAlition S organisations implementation webpage for details.
If I simply inform the journal that this submission is made available under a CC BY licence is that sufficient?

Published on: 21/07/2020 - Updated on: 21/07/2020

No.  The submission to the journal should make it clear that any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission is already licenced CC BY (or by exception CC BY ND).  This can be achieved by adding the following language to an article submission: “This research was funded, in whole or in part by the [cOAlition S Organisation name] [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.”

If at the time I submit an article for publication I also post a preprint, does that preprint have to be licensed CC BY?

Published on: 21/07/2020

No.  Although some funders may strongly encourage you to make your preprints available under a CC BY licence – and in certain circumstances, like a public health emergency, require it  – researchers can make their preprints available under a licence of their choice. 

Why, if the VoR is preferred to the AAM, cOAlition S does not mandate it?

Published on: 30/07/2020

In developing the Rights Retention strategy, we are mindful that the AAM version differs from the VoR. Not only does the latter contain all the changes from the copyediting process, journal formatting/branding etc., but it is also the version maintained and curated by the publisher, who has the responsibility to ensure that any corrections or retractions are applied in a timely and consistent way. For this reason, our preferred option is to ensure that the VoR is made Open Access. In cases where this version can be made available in accord with the Plan S principles, many cOAlition S Organisations make funding available to pay for these services in the form of APCs and contributions to transformative arrangements.

 However, we do not wish to mandate that the VoR is made available for the following reasons:

One, if we consider the price charged to make a VoR available – via, say, the Transformative Journal route, is neither fair or reasonable, we want to ensure that our funded researchers can still seek to publish in that journal, and comply with our OA policy by making the AAM open access with a CC BY licence. If we mandate that researchers have to make the VoR available then we would be obligated to pay any price set by the publisher.

 Two, there may be cases where a publisher does not provide the full suite of services we require when a publishing fee is met by a funder.  Examples of services funders will typically require of the publisher include depositing the VoR in a specific repository and agreeing to update the article in that third party repository if the original article is subject to corrections/retractions. If a publisher was not willing to provide these services, but we had mandated that researchers have to make the VoR available then we would be obligated to accept a service which didn’t meet our requirements.

Do articles submitted for publication have to be licenced CC BY?

Published on: 21/07/2020 - Updated on: 21/07/2020

No.  The submission itself does not have to be licensed CC BY.  However, at, or before the time of the submission, the author must inform the journal that any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission is already licenced CC BY (or by exception CC BY ND).  This can be achieved by adding the following language to an article submission:  “This research was funded, in whole or in part by the [cOAlition S Organisation name] [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.”

I am a publisher and want to inform cOAlition S funders how my journals will or will not comply with the Plan S rights retention strategy. How do I do that?

Published on: 16/07/2020

  • Publishers who were directly contacted on 15/7/2020 should use the response form at https://www.coalition-s.org/publisher-response-form and enter the unique code they were sent in the ‘Publisher response code’ box.
  • Other publishers: Although the current publisher response form is targeted at the large group of publishers who were directly contacted about the new rights retention strategy (forming the major proportion of those who have published cOAlition S funded research findings), other publishers are warmly invited to respond. So, if you are a subscription publisher and haven’t received an e-mail from us, but you would like to submit your position, please contact us at info@coalition-s.org requesting a publisher response code.
My publisher is demanding my article accepted manuscript (AAM) be taken down from the repository. What should I do?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

Contact your funder where you will get further instructions as to what to do. The basic principle of the cOAlition S Rights Retention strategy is that a prior CC BY licence cannot be defeated by a later publishing contract. You should be able to retain your work OA in the repository if the publisher was notified at submission.

Have all publishers been given notification that cOAlition S funded authors retain their rights?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

A large group of publishers who, between them, publish the majority of cOAlition S funded research articles were contacted directly giving notice of the cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy. Other publishers have been/are being informed via a variety of communication channels.

I am a publisher. How will I know that a cOAlition S funded author has retained their own rights?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

There are 2 ways that you may have received notification that the author(s) has/have retained their rights:
1. You may have received prior notification of the cOAlition S funders’ policy via email letter, or via some other channel of communication (webinar, conference, etc)
2. The submitted manuscript included text stating that “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.” (or similar)

It is my institution, not the individual researcher(s), that signs the grant agreement with the cOAlition S funder. As a researcher, do I have to comply with the Rights Retention requirement of the cOAlition S funder funding the research?

Published on: 15/07/2020 - Updated on: 14/07/2020

Yes. As a researcher benefiting from cOAlition S funder funding, you are obliged to meet the terms of that funder, as agreed in the conditions of grant agreement.

Copyright and licensing is very complicated. How can I as a researcher understand what I need to know to be compliant with Plan S?

Published on: 22/05/2020 - Updated on: 15/07/2020

Plan S has author rights retention as a central plank of its guidelines so that authors retain rights to their own work.

  • Information about Creative Commons licences is available on the Creative Commons website
  • Read any publishing or copyright transfer agreement (CTA) document carefully BEFORE you sign it.
  • If a member of a university, your librarian may be able to offer advice about your copyright and assigning a license to your work.
  • Your publisher may provide information about which licence to select to be compliant with Plan S.