Image Credit: Christina @
Image Credit: Christina @

Now that Plan S is officially in effect, are you wondering what steps you may still need to take to stay on top of the latest implementation guidelines? Journal publishers that wish to comply with the initiative to make all research funded by cOAlition S members fully and immediately Open Access (OA) have three routes to choose from:

  1. Open Access publishing venues: Publishing fully-OA journals or hosting articles on fully-OA platforms
  2. Subscription venues: Enabling authors to make either their published article or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript openly available in a repository without embargo (in line with the Rights Retention Strategy)
  3. Transition of subscription venues: Entering into transformative arrangements to make all journals fully OA within the designated transformative timeline, via either transformative agreements or by publishing transformative journals

At Scholastica, we’re working to support journal publishers taking fully-OA Plan S routes. Since Plan S was announced, Scholastica has introduced various improvements, outlined in our Plan S Product Roadmap, to help journals using our peer review software, production service, and OA publishing platform fulfill the Plan S criteria. We are monitoring the latest Plan S developments and will update our roadmap with any additional features to support the final implementation requirements and recommendations. Even if you don’t think your journals will be impacted by Plan S as it stands, we recommend reviewing the guidelines because they encompass digital publishing standards all journals should fulfill.

In this post, we overview steps that journals using Scholastica’s software and services can take to ensure they’re adhering to the current Plan S guidelines. If you still have questions about what Plan S entails and how it will affect the journals you publish or work with, check out our FAQs blog to learn more.

We will update this post as we introduce new improvements to Scholastica and as any changes to Plan S are released. This post was last updated on the 23rd of February 2022.

Set default copyright license for all articles

Let’s start with how to address one of the most fundamental Plan S requirements, applying open copyright licenses to all of your journal articles. In order for a journal to be Plan S compliant via a fully-OA publishing route, all of its articles must be made openly available upon publication under a CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution license or, as secondary alternatives, a CC BY-SA 4.0 license or CC0 public domain dedication. cOAlition S members may also approve the use of the CC BY-ND license for individual articles on a case by case basis. Copyright licenses must be displayed on all journal articles and included in article-level metadata.

Journals that use Scholastica’s OA publishing platform can meet the Plan S copyright requirements in a few clicks by setting a default Creative Commons copyright license for all of their articles. Once applied, the default copyright license will automatically be displayed on all article pages and included in the article-level metadata Scholastica generates. Journal teams can also select different CC copyright licenses for individual articles as needed via the copyright field in the article creation form.

To set a default copyright license for all of your articles, follow the steps in this help doc.

Apply for inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals and turn on automated metadata deposits

Set up automatic DOAJ deposits

Another core OA publishing professionalization requirement for journals to be Plan S compliant is to be indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). DOAJ indexing serves as a mark of journal quality to scholars, their institutions, and research funders. In addition to being a Plan S requirement, DOAJ indexing can also help expand the reach and impacts of the articles you publish because the DOAJ is a popular search tool and DOAJ metadata is ingested by many major discovery services.

Applying to the DOAJ is free and once you’ve met all of the indexing criteria you can easily submit an application. We break down everything you need to know about the DOAJ’s indexing criteria and how to apply in this blog post. Journals that use Scholastica’s OA publishing platform will already fulfill many of the technical specifications on the DOAJ application form.

Once your journal is accepted into the DOAJ, adding articles to the index is easy with Scholastica. We offer automated metadata deposits to the index to all journals using our OA publishing platform. To turn on Scholastica’s DOAJ integration, follow the steps in this help guide.

The DOAJ is one of the primary data providers for the new beta Plan S Journal Checker Tool (JCT), which enables researchers to quickly identify whether a journal or other publishing venue fulfills the current Plan S requirements. For the first iteration of the JCT, there are only three criteria that an OA journal needs to meet to be Plan S compliant: be indexed in the DOAJ, use one of the approved CC copyright licenses, ensure that article copyright is retained by the author.

Set up DOI registration and metadata deposits for all articles

Set up automated Crossref DOI registration and metadata deposits

Plan S also requires journals to have Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) for all articles and states that Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are preferable. You can obtain DOIs from any DOI registration agency. One of the most commonly used DOI registration agencies is Crossref, a not-for-profit membership organization that makes research outputs easy to find, cite, link, and assess. In this interview, Anna Tolwinska, Member Experience Manager at Crossref, breaks down what you need to know to register for DOIs through Crossref. In addition to the ability to register DOIs, Crossref offers publishers many benefits. Crossref has a global network of over 13,000 members and offers tools and services to help people around the world find, cite, and link to its member publications, making them more discoverable. Check out our webinar with Crossref on harnessing the journal discovery benefits of Crossref content registration to learn more.

Journal publishers using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform that are Crossref members can now set up automated DOI registration and metadata deposits via Crossref. Scholastica’s Crossref DOI registration automation eliminates all manual and technical steps around DOI creation. Our software will automatically register DOIs for all articles under your Crossref prefix and submit rich machine-readable metadata to Crossref, so they’re easily discoverable.

To turn on the Crossref DOI registration integration, follow the steps here.

Set up long-term archiving

Easily integrate with Portico

One of the most important steps journals should take to ensure readers will always have access to their articles, which is required by Plan S, is depositing all articles into a long-term digital archive or repository. The Plan S technical guidelines state that journal publishers must deposit all of their articles into a long-term preservation service such as Portico, LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, or an equivalent.

If you use Scholastica’s OA publishing platform and you have a Portico account, you can initiate automatic article deposits to Portico. Follow the steps here to set up a Portico integration.

If you’re using CLOCKSS, Scholastica is also looking for beta partners to build a CLOCKSS integration. To learn more, please email us at

Add necessary peer review policies and stats details to your website

In addition to the above technical criteria, Plan S has some specific publication guidelines that journals must follow. Journals must have established peer review policies that meet the standards of their discipline and adhere to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines. Journals must clearly state these policies on their websites. Peer review policies are statements about the editorial processes that a journal follows, including details like the type of peer review the journal conducts (i.e., double-blind, single-blind), who evaluates manuscripts in each stage of review, and the typical length of time for peer review. We outline the primary elements to include in journal peer review policies and best practices to follow in this blog post.

The revised Plan S guidelines also require journals to publish editorial statistics at least once annually, “covering in particular the number of submissions, the number of reviews requested, the number of reviews received, the approval rate, and the average time between submission and publication.” All journals using Scholastica’s peer review system can access raw journal data and reports to compile these stats from their Reviewers Table and the Analytics tab in their Journal Dashboard.

Journals using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform can add sections for peer review policies and peer review stats to their For Authors page. Journals can also request a custom “Journal Policies” page if more space is needed.

Provide transparent pricing information

Additionally, to be Plan S complaint, publishers must publicly state any OA journal publication fees they charge and the costs/factors impacting those fees on their website. Per the latest Plan S Price Transparency requirements, publishers that have journals with OA publishing fees (i.e., not Diamond OA) will also be required to submit pricing data to cOAlition S in line with one of two endorsed frameworks:

To publicly state any journal fees and associated costs, journals using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform can add a publication fees section to the “For Authors” page of their website. Journals must add information on publishing fees, whether they have author-facing charges or not, to meet both the Plan S guidelines and be admitted into the DOAJ. If you’re publishing on Scholastica without charging any publication fees and you’re covering the submission cost for your authors — you can add a line to your “For Authors” page as simple as: “JOURNAL-NAME does not have any fees for submission or publication in the journal.”

The new requirement to submit transparent pricing data to Plan S will go into effect on the 1st of July 2022, after which point, only journals that adhere to one of the approved price transparency frameworks will be eligible to access funds from cOAlition S members. Currently, the method for capturing pricing information for the Plan S Price and Transparency Framework is via this data collection spreadsheet developed by Information Power. Plan S also released an implementation guide and recommendations. cOAlition S is now in the process of developing a secure, authentication-managed web-based service to enable “academic publishers to upload data, in accord with one of the approved cOAlition S Price and Service Transparency Frameworks.”

Scholastica is monitoring Plan S updates and will announce any product initiatives related to pricing data when the final means of deposit is determined. In the meantime, publishers should review the two endorsed price and service transparency frameworks listed above to develop a transparent pricing breakdown. Currently, price breakdowns will be expected at the publisher level as a minimum, but Plan S will encourage journal-level price details also. Plan S is not enforcing any pricing caps at this time, but clearly states that pricing should be “fair and reasonable” and that “when OA publication fees are applied, they must be commensurate with the publication services delivered.”

List a policy for and have a workflow in place to process fee-waivers if applicable

Plan S also requires journals with submission or publication charges to offer fee waivers for authors from lower and middle-income economies, as well as waivers and discounts for authors with demonstrable needs. Waiver policies should be clearly stated on the journal website. Journals using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform can add a fee waiver policy to their “For Authors” page using the easy website editor tool.

Journals using Scholastica’s peer review system also have the option to integrate with RightsLink, Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) OA publication payment workflow solution, to more easily manage OA charges. With the new integration, publishers who use RightsLink can seamlessly initiate payment for OA journal article processing charges through Scholastica when article acceptance decisions are made. We are also building out Scholastica’s metadata support to enable publishers to leverage the broad range of transformative agreement workflows and author discount calculation functionality that RightsLink offers. RightsLink can apply author fee waivers, discounts, or institutional agreements that publishers specify on an article-by-article basis.

Publishers using Scholastica’s peer review system for their journals can get the new RightsLink integration set up quickly and easily. Just contact our support team to request to initiate an integration, and we’ll reach out to get the account information needed and take care of the technical details.

Add funder information to published articles

Add funder information to typesetting request

In order to be Plan S compliant, journals must also add funder information to the metadata of all articles funded by cOAlition S members. The Plan S implementation guidelines state that journal “metadata must include complete and reliable information on funding provided by cOAlition S members (including as a minimum the name of the funder and the grant number/identifier).” Adding funder metadata to articles is also a general publishing best practice, regardless of the funding source.

Journals using Scholastica’s production service and/or OA publishing platform can easily add funder information to their article-level metadata from the typesetting request or OA publishing article creation form.

We’ll take care of the technical metadata steps

For journals using Scholastica’s digital-first production service and/or OA publishing platform, as you’re taking the above steps, we’ll be handling many of the technical Plan S requirements for you, including automatically producing rich machine-readable metadata for all of your articles. As per Plan S, Scholastica produces machine-readable metadata files for all articles in standard interoperable formats that include cited references, copyright license information (when you choose a copyright license for your articles), and complete funding information. HTML articles published using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform also automatically include bibliographic metadata formatted in HTML meta tags.

Additional Plan S recommendations

Scholastica also supports “strongly recommended” technical Plan S criteria, including adding Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) to articles and producing machine-readable full-text JATS XML versions of all articles that are available for download.

  • Support for PIDS: Journals using Scholastica’s peer review system can collect author ORCIDs. And journals using Scholastica’s production service and/or OA publishing platform can integrate with Crossref for DOI registration (as noted) and easily include ORCIDs in their articles. We are also continually working to support the latest PID best practices, so stay tuned for updates.
  • Full-text JATS XML article files: Scholastica’s digital-first production service generates full-text JATS XML for articles straight from original manuscript files. Journals using both Scholastica’s production service and OA publishing platform have a JATS XML file download option on each of their article website pages.

We’ll continue to update our Plan S Product Roadmap with additional recommended technical criteria support details.

Stay tuned for further updates

Scholastica is monitoring the Plan S guidelines, and we will continue taking steps to support our journal users in fulfilling additional criteria announced. To learn more about how Scholastica is supporting sustainable OA publishing and helping journals fulfill the Plan S implementation guidelines, visit our Product Roadmap: Plan S, Core Open Access Publishing Standards & Scholastica. If you have any questions about how you can start preparing for Plan S using Scholastica, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Update Note: This post was originally published on the 9th of July 2019 and updated on the 23rd of February 2022.

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