Plan S Implementation Begins: immediate Open Access for Wellcome funded articles

Plan S is a research funders’ initiative to bring about full and immediate Open Access to scholarly publications that result from publicly funded research.

A number of research funders have become Plan S compliant from the 1st January, including The Wellcome Trust.  The UKRI funders will be following in the second quarter of this year: AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC.

One of the crucial aspects of Plan S is the “Rights Retention Strategy”.  This Strategy was created as a mechanism to ensure researchers can comply with Plan S requirements whilst still being free to publish in the journal of their choice.

As part of the Strategy, Plan S funders’ grant conditions require that an Open Access licence (the Creative Commons Attribution licence – CC BY) is applied to all Author Accepted Manuscripts (or Versions of Record) funded by their research.

For example, when authors with Wellcome funding are submitting their manuscripts to a publisher, the manuscripts must include the following statement:

This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number xxxxx]. 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.

Plan S have already contacted publishers about the Rights Retention Strategy. The Strategy works because once a publisher accepts the submission containing the statement for publication, this initial statement “trumps” any later statements or attempts at copyright assignment that the publisher may routinely ask for from authors. This means that the Author Accepted Manuscript can be deposited in an Open Access Repository like STORRE and be made immediately Open Access upon publication of the article.

Using the Rights Retention Strategy ensures an author can always publish where they wish, but there are actually three different routes to compliance with Plan S:

Route 1: Publish in a fully Open Access journal or platform:

  • Funders will cover reasonable charges for publishing Open Access. The University has the APC Fund to support publishing in fully Open Access journals. (Apply via the University Portal: select ‘Apply for APC funding’ under ‘I want to’).

Route 2: Publish in a subscription journal and make the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) openly available in STORRE:

  • Uses the Rights Retention Strategy
  • As usual, deposit your Author Accepted Manuscript (peer reviewed version) in the University’s Open Access Repository STORRE via Worktribe. (In the Portal – under the ‘My Stirling Life’ tab select ‘Access Worktribe (Research System)‘ listed in the ‘I want to section’)

Route 3: Publish in a subscription journal through a transformative arrangement that is available via University of Stirling:

  • Transformative arrangements can be agreements with publishers covering a number of journals, or individual journals, that meet Plan S requirements and have been designated as Plan S compliant.
  • The University Library has joined a number of transformative agreements to support this route – see our Where to Publish page

A Plan S “Journal Checker Tool” is available so you can check which routes can be used for your preferred journals – see:

You can learn more about Plan S on our Funder Requirements page. Details of the full new Wellcome Open Access Policy are also available on that page.

Clare Allan
Senior Research Librarian