The "Plan S" initiative will enter into force in 2021 and provide free access to scholarly publications. Following an intensive consultation process, the revised principles and guidelines have now been published. Together with a number of internationally renowned funding organisations, the FWF supports the initiative and is well-prepared for its implementation.

Why Open Access?

Open Science and Open Access are goals which the scientific community sets itself. Open access to research results ensures that these results can be fully understood, reproduced, criticised and taken further to develop academic and practical applications. Open access to scholarly publications online is an important constituent factor of Open Science, which is characterised by openness and transparency in all scholarly working cycles.

Moreover, both the scientific community and society at large are economically and ethically entitled to open access to research results and transparent information about the costs involved – the former because it produces research results and ensures the quality of research, the latter because it supports research.

What is cOAlition S, what is Plan S?

cOAlition S is a platform of at present 20 international funding organisations. It has developed Plan S to introduce Open Access for all peer-reviewed publications resulting from research projects funded by its members by 2021.

The principles of Plan S were proposed in September 2018, followed by draft implementation guidelines two months later. Based on the proposals, an international feedback process was launched. More than 600 contributions were evaluated to prepare the final version of Plan S, which has now been published, see: 

Moreover, cOAlition S is publishing all feedback received, with explanations of how these suggestions, points of criticism and reservations were addressed.

cOAlition S is supported by a group of researchers of high international standing who act as Ambassadors for Plan S.

How does the final version of Plan S affect scholars who receive FWF funding?

Taking into account the input and feedback suggestions received, transition periods and adjustment options have been defined. Some of the main points are:

  • Plan S applies to all FWF research projects submitted after 1 January 2021. Peer-reviewed scholarly articles that result from these projects have to be made available, with open access being ensured without delay. The immediate Open Access requirement will effectively apply to FWF-funded projects in late 2021 or early 2022. For other publication formats, chiefly monographies and edited volumes, a binding set of rules will be laid down by year-end 2021.

  • There are three ways to fulfil the Plan S Open Access requirement: 1) Publication in an open access journal or on an open access platform (Gold Open Access); 2) archiving of the publication in an open-access repository without embargo periods, with authors retaining their copyright (Green Open Access). Open Access conditions will also be deemed fulfilled if 3) the research institutions and/or funding organisations have concluded a transformative agreement with the publishers that allows open access publication by the authors.

  • As in the past 15 years, FWF will actively contribute to funding Open Access publications in Austria and expand its funding volumes where necessary.

How well are Austria’s research institutions and FWF prepared for Plan S?

FWF has worked closely with Austria’s research institutions to make preparations that greatly facilitate the implementation of Plan S:

  • A number of transformative agreements have been concluded with publishers, enabling authors to publish open-access papers in many journals at transparent costs.

  • Within the scope of its programmes for peer-reviewed publications (articles in journals) and stand-alone publications (monographies and other formats), FWF has provided financial support towards publication costs since 2004. Taken as a percentage of FWF’s overall budget, total funding for publications constitutes the highest volume of open-access funding provided by any funding organisation worldwide.

  • Austrian research institutions are running several internationally registered repositories, in which open-access publications can be sustainably archived. Authors in disciplines for which institutional repositories do not exist can use ZENODO, for example.

cOAlition S will carry out an interim evaluation until 2024 to introduce necessary modifications and adjust to current developments, if required.

FWF will review its application guidelines and programmes in the coming months. The results of the review process will be available well ahead of 1 January 2021 to provide clear-cut information and offers of support, as well as a broad range of publication options, to the research community in a timely manner. FWF also plans to organise several information events prior to the start of implementation of the new guidelines.

The current Open Access Policy remains in force until 31 December 2020 and will apply to all projects that receive funding up to this date.


For further information, please contact Falk Reckling or Katharina Rieck from the Department "Strategy - Policy, Evaluation, Analysis"

Falk Reckling

Katharina Rieck

Back to list view