RHS Responds to Plan S Revised Guidance

In response to updated guidance from cOAlition S on Plan S, we provide History researchers, editors and learned societies with essential information on the revised criteria.

On Friday 31 May 2019 cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders including UKRI and Wellcome Trust in the UK, published version 2.0 of Plan S, the Open Access publishing initiative first launched in September 2018. The revised version responds to some (but by no means all) of the c.600 submissions to the feedback process that closed in February 2019.

The material below offers UK and international historians a preliminary summary and analysis of version 2.0.

It is organised in two parts:

  • Part I summarises the main aspects of Plan S compliance that will be relevant for History researchers/authors funded by cOAlition S partners (whether in the UK or internationally) who wish to submit articles to peer reviewed journals from 1 January 2020 onward;
  • Part II focuses on issues that will primarily be relevant for History journal editors and learned societies

This is a preliminary document, designed to inform Fellows, Members and the wider historical community of the most salient points of Plan S version 2.0.  Further details are available on the Plan S website (https://www.coalition-s.org/).  The Royal Historical Society will post a more detailed analysis of the revised iteration of Plan S on its website in due course.

Part I: Key points for History researchers/article authors funded by cOALition S signatories:
  • Timeline: Funders that subscribe to Plan S must apply its principles to peer-reviewed journal outputs funded ‘under calls as of 1 January 2021 (or earlier at individual members’ choice)’. This revision allows funders to implement Plan S a year later than originally envisioned.  We are very pleased to report that the Wellcome Trust will apply Plan S requirements to articles submitted for review from 1 January 2021, a year later than previously announced;
  • 3 routes to Plan S compliance: from the date that their funder implements Plan S, researchers will have 3 possible routes to Plan S compliance:
    • 1) publication in an open access journal or platform with zero embargo. In this case, the cOAlition funder will pay the journal’s Article Publication Charge (APC) or publication fee;
    • 2) publication in a subscription journal, with either the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) or Version of Record (VOR) deposited in an open access repository with zero embargo. In this case, the funder will not pay any APCs/publication fees;
    • 3) publication in a subscription journal with a fixed-term ‘transformative agreement’. In this case, the cOAlition S funder can pay the APC/publication fees. However, this option will be phased out on 31 December 2024.

Our (Royal Historical Society) expectation, based on the current journal landscape in History nationally and internationally, is that the 2nd of these 3 pathways will likely be the most broadly available of the 3 options for most historians in the next few years.

  • CC BY exemptions: Version 1.0 of Plan S appeared to mandate CC BY licences; version 2.0 allows funders to choose to permit case-by-case exceptions, including—‘if this is explicitly requested and justified by the grantee’—the use of CC BY-ND licences. Plan S version 2.0 also includes provision for exemption based on the inclusion of content owned/controlled by third-parties;
  • Book chapters and Monographs: books, including chapters in books, are exempt from Plan S requirements for the time being. cOAlition S plans to issue guidance on its policy on books by the end of 2021.

Preliminary analysis: cOAlition S-funded History researchers who have access to an open access repository for their articles will be able to publish in many journals once Plan S is in place, but this range will likely be restricted compared to present options: for example, not all journals nationally or internationally allow Green, zero-embargo open access publication of a deposited AAM.

For UK researchers, the question of whether Quality Related (QR)-funded research must be Plan S compliant remains to be decided, following an autumn 2020 UKRI consultation.

For Early Career Researchers (ECRs) who do not have continuous university employment contracts, researchers outside the university sector and university emeriti, the question of both funding for APCs and access to a compliant open access repositories remains unresolved.

Version 2.0 of Plan S recognises no potential conflict with any legislation mandating equality, diversity or inclusion.  It specifies that cOAlition S signatories will align compliance and sanctioning of researchers, but does not suggest any external mechanism for its own impact to be monitored or sanctioned.

Part II: Key points for journal editors and learned societies:
  • Timeline: the extended timeline for funders to implement Plan S will afford editors and learned societies additional time to model the potential impact of any changes they may wish to implement with respect to Plan S compliance, and to discuss their options with their publishers;
  • Hybrid: Plan S’s hostility to the hybrid model is undiminished in version 2.0. For those journals that wish to ‘flip’ from hybrid to full OA for article content via a transformative agreement, the end point of transformation must be reached by 31 December 2024;
  • Transparency of costs and prices: The deadline for ‘publisher representatives and other stakeholders’ to agree which services (e.g., peer review, editorial work etc.) they will be required to price for Plan S compliance is 1 January 2020. Price transparency at journal level is preferred, but costings at publisher level are allowed.  OA journal websites will be required to detail their costing and pricing and to provide subsidised/reduced APCs for researchers from lower- and middle-income countries;
  • Technical compliance for repositories: The technical requirements for the repositories in which authors using the AAM Green route have been lowered, which should reduce the transaction costs of this route to compliance.

Preliminary analysis: The impact of Plan S on particular history journals and learned societies will differ widely.  Key factors that are likely to come into play are:

  • choice of publisher (especially whether your publisher does or does not allow zero-embargo Green AAM or VOR publication);
  • proportion of content that consists of articles as opposed to reviews and non-peer-reviewed content;
  • the funding profile of researchers who publish with you;
  • the proportion of your learned society’s income that is derived from subscriptions.

Significant concerns remain about how to accommodate researchers who lack access to OA repositories.

The revised Plan S principles and implementation guidance as well as the rationale for the revisions and a current list of cOAlition funders on which this analysis is based can be found here.