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In September 2018, an international group of research funders called cOAlition S launched a plan for accelerating the transition to open access: Plan S. All scientific publications that result from research funded by coalition members must immediately be open access from 2021 onwards. NWO is one of cOAlition S’s growing group of currently 21 research funders. In the Netherlands, Plan S concerns about 20% of all scientific publications.

Our previous update described concerns from the science community about the implementation guidelines for Plan S. An elaborate consultation evoked over 600 reactions coming from more than 40 countries. In the Netherlands, NWO collected the feedback, including a statement by the VSNU.

Final guidelines for Plan S

Based on the collected feedback, cOAlition S drew up new, final guidelines. These maintain the fundamental principles of Plan S, but important changes were made to accommodate the concerns that were expressed in the feedback:

 ·      Plan S’s timeline has been extended by one year and applies to new calls that will be published as of 2021. This means that Plan S won’t effectively start until two to three years later, when the first articles will be published. These publications must have a CC-BY license, or in case of exceptions, a CC-BY-ND license.

·      A publication is compliant with Plan S when the journal is completely open access; when the journal is part of a ‘transformative agreement’ (until 2024); or when the publication is openly accessible through an institutional or domain-specific repository immediately after publication (e.g., UT Research Information). This third option means that you can keep publishing open access in subscription journals (or mirror/sister journals) without a transformative agreement, at least until 2024, as long as a peer-reviewed version of your publication is also openly accessible in our repository. In those cases, the funder will not cover the publication costs.

·      Besides transformative agreements, transformative model agreements (for learned societies and small publishers) and ‘transformative journals’ are also supported.

·      The previously planned cap on the costs of open-access publishing has been put on hold. The emphasis now lies on transparency in open-access publication fees.

·      More emphasis is put on changing the research reward and incentive system: cOAlition-S funders will implement the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) before 2021. This means that these funders will no longer base funding decisions on journal proxies such as name and impact factor, but on the intrinsic merit of the work.

What will happen now?

In a news release, NWO states that the timeline until 2021 provides sufficient time for the careful implementation of Plan S, during which NWO will keep consulting with stakeholders in the Netherlands. The first step is translating Plan S into NWO-specific funding requirements.

More information

For updates on Plan S, visit the News section on our website
For practical information about your options to publish open access as a UT author, visit
Any questions? Please email our university’s Specialist Open Access, Nicole Loorbach.