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A commentary by the British Academy on cOAlition S’s final version of Plan S

At the end of May 2019 cOAlition S issued a second, final version of Plan S, together with guidelines for implementation, in response to the extensive international reactions to the original initiative (September 2018) which announced that grant-funded research would in future have to be published immediately in an Open Access (OA) format. These guidelines were subsequently supplemented by a work plan. We earlier commented on the first version of Plan S; here we assess its successor, finding that many of our initial criticisms remain.

We welcome some aspects of the revised scheme. One is the delay of a year until 1 January 2021 before it is implemented; another is the relaxation in the technical specifications required of platforms which will host OA publications. Even here, however, concerns remain. Eighteen months is a very short period of time for essential changes in the landscape of journal publication; another is that very little is being done as yet to the development of platforms which will be essential for the success of Plan S.