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PLOS and Plan S – We’ve got you covered!

As a fully Open Access (OA) publisher since our founding, PLOS meets or exceeds all Plan S requirements and recommendations. In fact, we always have! That won’t change as cOAlition S moves forward with the next phase of Plan S implementation

A quick refresher: What is Plan S again? And what is its current status?

Plan S requires that any research supported by one of the more than 25 signatory funders be made available under an Open Access copyright license without delay or embargo—either in a fully Open Access (OA) journal, or by posting to a fully Open Access repository. To support these requirements, the cOAlition members agree that grants may be used to pay publication fees if needed.

Recently, cOAlition S reaffirmed their timeline for full implementation of Plan S. The policy, which began in January 2021, will come into full effect as planned in December 2024. Notably, in the recent announcement, cOAlition S confirmed plans to end support for “transformative agreements” at the end of 2024 as part of their larger effort to encourage Open Access. Transformative agreements facilitate a path to Open Access publishing in certain hybrid or subscription journals that intend to move to a fully Open Access model. By the 2024 deadline, authors may not be able to use grants to fund publications in journals still operating a hybrid model. As PLOS is and always has been a fully OA publisher, this will not affect APC funding or institutional deals for PLOS authors. 

While full implementation is still almost two years in the future, it’s exciting to see the program moving forward. PLOS is very supportive of the next steps outlined by the cOAlition, and we are already prepared for this new phase of Plan S! Read on for more detail on how PLOS meets or exceeds Plan-S requirements.

PLOS is Plan-S-ready—and then some!

Journal standards and Open licensing

In order to qualify as an approved publication venue, Plan S requires that publishers and platforms meet certain standards for quality and ethics, transparent editorial guidelines, and of course, OA licensing and author copyright retention. 

At PLOS, everything we publish is Open, and always has been. We were founded in 2001 as an Open Access advocacy organization, and began publishing research in 2003 under a CC BY license. We are a founding member of OASPA, and a co-founder of OA week. Each of our journals upholds the very highest standards for scientific and research ethics, and are longstanding members of COPE.

Transparent journal metrics and publication cost details

Another key requirement of Plan S relates to transparent journal metrics, fair publication fees, and clarity around how Article Processing Charges (APCs) are allocated. Qualifying journals are also required to offer fully documented fee waiver and discount programs for authors based in lower- or middle- income countries, and those with demonstrable needs.

You can read our most recent journal statistics and cost details on the Official PLOS Blog. We offer full waivers and discounts to researchers based in Research4Life countries, as well as needs-based fee assistance. 

Just as important, we’re working to make Open Access more equitable overall by moving beyond APCs. We’ve established  APC-alternative funding models that help put OA publication within reach for all, whether funded by Plan S signatories or not. And because we’re fully Open, our institutional partner agreements will remain Plan S compliant, even after the transitional period ends in 2024.

Technical specifications

Plan S includes technical requirements to support discoverability, preservation, and meta-analysis, beginning with detailed machine-readable, and non-proprietary metadata. OpenAIRE compliance and full text machine-readable downloads are both strongly encouraged. In addition, long-term preservation is of course required, and self-archiving recommended. Plan S also requires persistent digital identifiers for publications and strongly recommends identifiers for authors as well.

PLOS journals offer all of these features! Authors can rest easy when submitting to PLOS, knowing their published articles will automatically be backed by high-quality JATS metadata, LOCKSS archiving, and be accessible in a downloadable version of our full corpus. PLOS journals assign unique DOIs to all of our articles, with sub-DOIs to identify and link figures and Published Peer Review History. ORCID is required for all corresponding authors, and is available to coauthors and reviewers as well. We also use the CRediT taxonomy to acknowledge each authors’ unique contribution to the work.

Accessible data

While not required, Plan S strongly recommends openly accessible data in line with ethical considerations, as well as links to data, code, and other supporting documentation.

For almost a decade, PLOS’ sensible data policy has required that the data underlying each study be made publicly available, so long as it does not pose a risk to vulnerable populations or patient privacy. Plus, we are experimenting with new tools to make data sharing and reuse easy and more visible. Our Accessible Data feature highlights links to data repositories on our article pages, so readers can easily find and retrieve datasets associated with PLOS articles while our Dryad integration for PLOS Pathogens enables data repository deposition through the Editorial Manager submissions system.

Looking ahead to full Plan S implementation

All this means that Plan-S-funded authors can submit to any of our 12 journals with confidence, now or after 2024, knowing that their articles will be Plan S compliant with no additional effort on their part. And, that any publication fees will be eligible for funding support, either through a PLOS partner institution, or through their Plan S funder.

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