The updated Plan S guidance and footprint report

In early June,  Coalition S updated their guidance on the implementation of Plan S. The new, clarified routes to compliance impact on the analysis in our Global Research Report on The Plan S Footprint, which was issued in March 2019.

This blog outlines how the changes in routes to compliance affect our analysis.

Firstly, the key data such as the proportion of papers acknowledging a Plan S funder, and the type of Open Access (OA) remains the same. Key points from the report are unchanged:

  • Plan S funders were acknowledged on 6.4% of papers.
  • Plan S-funded work is on average more highly cited than the world average in all subject areas.
  • There is a large variance in the proportion of Plan S-funded work by subject area.
  • Several European countries will have more than 50% of their content published via OA models because of Plan S.
  • Although Plan S is currently predominantly made up of European funders, the international nature of research means that many papers with non-European authors will be affected, including 20,000 papers with at least one American author.
  • 75% of papers that acknowledge a Plan S funder also acknowledge funding from another source.

Our initial analysis premised that the high technical requirements for repositories and language around hybrid OA and ’mirror’ journals, meant the main route to compliance would be via publication in fully OA journals. The updated guidance has reduced the technical requirements for repositories to recommendations, meaning that many more repositories will be compliant, which will enable researchers to deposit their Author Accepted Manuscript or Version of Record via the green OA route. The updated guidance also makes clear that researchers will be able to publish under a subscription or hybrid model provided they also deposit their manuscript under a Creative Commons license on publication with no embargo, so long as  Plan S funds are not used to pay Article Publishing Charges in hybrid or ‘mirror’ journals.

These changes mean that the analysis on papers at risk and compliance no longer reflect current Plan S guidance. Papers at risk was the term we coined to describe the proportion of Plan S-funded papers that were not published in a fully Gold OA journal, and compliance was defined as the percentage of Plan S-funded papers that were published in a fully Gold OA journal. Under the new guidance, more papers will be compliant than were anticipated in the report, and the number of papers at risk will be lower.

The update to Plan S guidance will inevitably change the impact of Plan S on the global publishing landscape. Approximately 120,000 papers per year will be affected, many of them highly cited; these changes will be unevenly distributed between different subject areas, publishers and geographies.