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As Plan S officially gets underway, are you wondering what steps you may still need to take to prepare? Journal publishers that wish to comply with the initiative to make all research funded by cOAlition S members on or after the 1st of January 2021 fully and immediately open access 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
  3. Transition of subscription venues: Entering into transformative arrangements to make all journals fully open access 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 open access Plan S compliance routes. Since Plan S was announced, Scholastica has introduced various product improvements, outlined in our Plan S Product Roadmap, to help journals using our peer review software, production service, and open access publishing platform fulfill the Plan S implementation criteria. We are continuing to monitor the latest Plan S developments and will update our roadmap with any additional features planned 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 are comprised of core publishing professionalization standards that all open access journals should fulfill.

In this post, we overview steps that journals using Scholastica’s software and services can take to start preparing for Plan S. If you still have questions about what Plan S will entail 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 29th of December 2020.

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 open access 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. The default copyright license will be applied globally to all articles published after it’s been set and will be displayed on article pages and included in article-level metadata.

To set a default copyright license for all of your articles, log in to your Scholastica account and navigate to My Journals > Publishing > Publishing Settings and click “Edit” next to “OA Publishing Settings.” Then, simply pick your preferred copyright license from the dropdown and click “Save.”

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

Set up automatic DOAJ deposits

Another core open access 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 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 open access 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 open access publishing platform. Just click “Manage integrations” on your Publishing Settings page > select the DOAJ integration option > and enter the API key.

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 fulfill 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 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 a recent 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.

Journal publishers using Scholastica’s open access 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 core machine-readable metadata to Crossref, so articles can more easily be found by readers and discovery services.

To set up the Crossref DOI registration automation, navigate to your journal “Publishing Settings” page > scroll down to “Manage Integrations” > click “Setup” beside the Crossref integration option > input your Crossref username, password, and prefix > and click save. Automatic DOI registration initiated!

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 open access publishing platform and you have a Portico account, you can initiate automatic article deposits to Portico. To integrate your journal with Portico, just click “Manage Integrations” on your Publishing Settings page > select the Portico integration > and enter your Portico login credentials.

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. These policies must be clearly stated on the journal website. Peer review policies are statements about the editorial processes that a journal follows, including details like the type of peer review the journal uses, 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 open access 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 include transparent information about any journal fees and associated publishing costs on their websites. Per the latest Plan S Price Transparency requirements, publishers will also be required to submit journal pricing data to cOAlition S in line with one of two endorsed price and service transparency frameworks:

To publicly state any journal fees and associated costs, journals using Scholastica’s open access 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.”

Journals will have more time to prepare for the pricing data deposit requirement, which goes into effect on the 1st of July 2022. The logistics for submitting pricing data to cOAlition S are still being determined and are expected to be released by December 2021. Scholastica is monitoring all Plan S updates and will announce any pricing data related features/support when the final data deposit method 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 open access publishing platform can add a waiver policy to their “For Authors” page using the easy website editor.

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 can easily add funder information to their article-level metadata. Just click “Add additional article information” on the typesetting request form and opt to add a “Funding sources” section to the form. Then click into the “Funding sources” section and fill in the necessary information. We’ll take care of the rest. All of the funding information you input will be included in the metadata of your typeset articles.

We’ll take care of the technical metadata steps

For journals using Scholastica’s production service to typeset articles, as you’re taking the above steps, we’ll be handling many of the technical Plan S requirements for you, including automatically producing high-quality 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 default copyright license for all articles), and complete funding information (when you input funding information in the typesetting request form). HTML articles published using Scholastica’s open access publishing platform also automatically include bibliographic metadata formatted in HTML meta tags.

Additional Plan S recommendations

Scholastica is also working to support “strongly recommended” technical Plan S criteria, including support for Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) and producing machine-readable JATS XML versions of all articles available for download.

  • Support for PIDS: Journals using Scholastica’s peer review system can currently collect author ORCIDs, and journals using Scholastica’s OA publishing platform can include ORCIDs in their published articles. We are planning to introduce additional PID support in the near future, so look out for updates!
  • JATS XML article files: Scholastica’s typesetting service produces full-text JATS compliant XML files for all articles. Journals using both Scholastica’s typesetting service and open access 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 open access 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 29th of December 2020.