Plan S – Key Updates and Transformative Agreements

As developments in the implementation of Plan S begin to gain pace, it is important that researchers at LSHTM prepare themselves to stay informed of changes that may impact their planned publications as we move forward into a shifting publishing landscape. This is especially true for researchers funded by bodies like the Wellcome Trust and UKRI, who have committed to Plan S.

To support this, the below is intended as an overview of some of these shifts as cOAlition S work to drive a move to full and immediate open access. It offers some examples of how to stay informed of these changes, understand the principles underlying them, and encourage engagement in the process to help ensure that changes support the priorities and needs of researchers.

Transformative Agreements

From July 2022, publishers must meet price transparency frameworks of Plan S to be eligible to access funds for open access from funders like the Wellcome Trust and UKRI who are committed to Plan S changes.

Transformative arrangements are a way for publishers to transition their subscription journals to being fully open access. They include both subscriptions and open access publishing, meaning there will be no additional open access cost when a paper is published.

Universities, including LSHTM, will be reviewing the plans for transformative arrangements put forward by publishers, which will need to meet the criteria for Transformative Journals that have been set out for Plan S. Jisc Collections are supporting higher education institutions with the negotiation of transitional open access agreements. LSHTM has signed up to two arrangements, one with Wiley (details here) and one with SAGE.

If your work is funded by a Plan S signatory, in the future you will either need to publish in a fully open access journal (a journal where the only route to making your work open access is one where it will be open access immediately, often facilitated by an APC payment to the publisher), or, if the journal is ‘hybrid’ (where there is an option to self-archive your work on an open access repository for free).

The impacts of publisher’s agreements for LSHTM researchers

The policy of The Lancet, which is at present a ‘hybrid’ journal published by Elsevier, is an example of how Plan S will change publishing for researchers at LSHTM. It also represents the value of actively engaging and responding to changes initiated by Plan S.

Since The Lancet is not a fully open access journal, this means that funds from cOAlition S signatories (funders that have endorsed Plan S and are jointly working on its implementation) will, on principle, not be used to pay for open access in the future, unless Elsevier propose an appropriate Transformative Agreement.

However, work (Accepted Manuscripts or final published version of records) can, without payment, be archived and made freely available at the point of publication (i.e. with no embargo) on institutional repositories, such as LSHTM Research Online. This policy was published in The Lancet:

Plan S: the final cut, The Lancet Group:

Plan S: the final cut— response from cOAlition S, Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at the Wellcome Trust and interim cOAlition S Coordinator.

Work published in the future will be impacted by Plan S, so please do keep your eyes open to ways to share your needs and feedback as researchers so your views are represented. We can help advise you on how to understand the changes.

Staying up to date with developments

Review whether journals meet Plan S requirements and keep abreast of the policy guidance issued by your funder, and any work they have done to review their policies in light of Plan S.

The Journal Checker Tool

cOAlition S are working to support the development and maintenance of a Journal Checker Tool, to be available for use from November 2020. This will be focused on helping authors establish whether a publishing venue:

a) Offers a route to compliance, as set out in Implementation of Plan S
b) Offers a CC-BY option to all researchers working under a Plan S policy
c) Allows the author to retain copyright

cOAlition S have set out a work plan of priority actions to facilitate their plan of making full and immediate open access a reality. They can be contacted about this work, at, and you can sign up to receive updates here.

The Wellcome Trust and UKRI

The Wellcome Trust’s recent work responding to Plan S may be found here and here.
These pages have further information of how the work they will fund is changing from 1 Jan 2021. Wellcome have also provided detailed guidance on how to comply with their new policy here.

Particular details of significance to researchers include:

  • The removal of an embargo period for work on PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe
  • Wellcome will only cover the cost of OA publishing in subscription/hybrid journals via transformative agreements, (these will have been required to demonstrate they will make a transition to being fully open access)

Until then, researchers will be expected to continue to comply with Wellcome’s current policy.

UKRI are communicating their updates here:

They have said guidance on queries about the RCUK open access policy can be directed to:, while general queries about Plan S and cOAlition S should be sent to:

Summary Timeline

What can you do to prepare?

Consider where you are thinking of publishing in the future, check the timeline of policy changes of your funder and think about whether your desired journals are hybrid or fully open access.

Sign up to updates from cOAlition S so you will be notified when the Journal Checker Tool becomes available and keep this bookmarked like you would have with the Funders & Authors Compliance Tool, Sherpa/Fact.

Take opportunities to offer your feedback to the development of work in support of the transition to full open access.

Helpful links and addresses

UKRI Policy queries:

General queries about Plan S and cOAlition S should be sent to:

Wellcome OA Policy:

Implementation of Plan S:

Joint Statement of OA2020 and cOAlition S:

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