Alliance for Taxpayer Access

Worldwide momentum for public access to publicly funded research

Around the globe, national, intergovernmental, and non-profit funding agencies are recognizing the opportunity to increase the return on their research grants by requiring that findings are made freely accessible on the Internet. Following is a sampling of relevant actions and recommendations from beyond the U.S.  

Also consult, "Research funders' open access policies," from Sherpa.


The Prime Minister announced in May 2004 that the Australian Government would establish "Quality and Accessibility Frameworks for Publicly Funded Research." A key aim is "to ensure that, through the establishment and linkage of electronic digital repositories, national scholarly output and research data derived from Australian Government funding will be available to researchers and the wider community." See the web site for more information on the Accessibility Framework.

In November 2006, Australia's Productivity Commission released a draft report on  Public Support for Science and Innovation, which makes the case that national innovation would benefit if government funders played "a more active role than they currently do in promoting accessibility to the results of research they fund" (Section 5.7).  It concludes, "published papers and data from ARC and NHMRC-funded projects should be freely and publicly available" (draft finding 5.1). See the Productivity Commission's final report.

Within two months of the Productivity Commission report, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) called on researchers to make the results of research funded by the Australian Government publicly available, whenever possible and appropriate. In a joint statement, the chief executives of the two funding agencies said, "we encourage researchers, at the earliest opportunity, to deposit their data and any publications arising from government funded research in an appropriate repository that has free public access." See the media release here.

A December 2006 paper prepared by the Working Group for the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) recommends that "the principle of open equitable access to publicly-funded scientific data be adopted wherever possible and that this principle be taken into consideration in the development of data for science policy and programmes." See the PMSEIC working group report.


The Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Austria's central body for the promotion of basic research, "expects the results of the research it supports to be... made available free of charge on the Internet (open access). Contributions should be submitted to subject specific or institutional electronic archives (repositories) in addition to being sent to scientific publishers or they should be published directly in peer reviewed or highly regarded open access journals." See the FWF Open Access Policy.


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the nation's major federal body responsible for funding health research, issued in October 2006 a Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs . The draft policy, based on consultations and a survey of the health research community conducted earlier in 2006, asserts that "CIHR has a fundamental interest in ensuring that research outputs are available to the widest possible audience." It recommends adoption of a policy (excerpted below) requiring public access to articles stemming from CIHR funding:

CIHR requires grant and award holders to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed journal publications are freely available. CIHR recognizes that there are several vehicles for delivering free access to research publications. And as such, we are providing two options for grant and award holders. Under the first option, grant and award holders must archive either final peer-reviewed published articles, or final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts, immediately upon publication. Archiving must involve deposition in an appropriate open archives initiative-compliant digital archive, such as PubMed Central, or an institutional repository. A publisher-imposed embargo on open accessibility of no more than 6 months is acceptable.

The second option allows grant and award holders to submit their manuscripts either to a journal that provides immediate open access to published articles (if a suitable journal exists), or to a journal that allows authors to retain copyright and/or allows authors to archive journal publications in an open access archive within the six-month period following publication. See the CIHR Draft Policy.

Genome Canada , the Canadian government's funding partner in genomics and proteomics research, issued a policy in July 2005 indicating it "expects funded researchers to deposit a digital copy of their published manuscript and any appropriate supplementary information into PubMed Central (PMC), NIH's digital repository for biomedical research. Six months after the study's publication (or sooner if the publisher agrees) the manuscript will be made freely available to the public through PMC." See Genome Canada's policy.


In January 2006 the European Commission published an in-depth Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets of Europe . The study, based on analysis of the current scholarly journal publication market and extensive consultation with all the major stakeholders (researchers, funders, publishers, librarians, research policymakers, etc.), noted that "research funding agencies have a central role in determining researchers' publishing practices" and recommended that European funders:

...should promote and support the archiving of publications in open repositories, after a (possibly domain-specific) time period to be discussed with publishers. This archiving could become a condition for funding.

The following actions could be taken at the European level: (i) Establish a European policy mandating published articles arising from EC-funded research to be available after a given time period in open access archives, and (ii) Explore with Member States and with European research and academic associations whether and how such policies and open repositories could be implemented. (Recommendation A1). See the European Commission's Study.

The European Union's executive arm, the Commission of the European Communities (CEC), subsequently unveiled a strategy in February 2007 to improve access to scientific information. The CEC's official communication asserts the Commission's position that "initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced of the basis of public funding." The new policy takes a number of steps that will promote open practices and advance the policy discussion. Among actions to be undertaken at the European level: open access publication fees will be eligible for EC contribution; guidelines calling for embargoed public access will be issued in selected disciplines; 50 million euros will be available over the next two years for development of digital repositories and other infrastructure for improved research sharing. See the CEC's strategy.


The Ministry of Education established a working group to develop recommendations regarding adoption of policies ensuring open access to scientific and scholarly literature in Finland. Their 2005 report recommends that:

Higher education institutions and research institutes, individually or jointly, set up the necessary open access online archives in which researchers can deposit copies of their publications for free access on the internet.

Researchers are encouraged to deposit copies of their publications in these open access electronic publication archives with a view to rapid accumulation of material in them.

Funding agencies (e.g. the Academy of Finland and Tekes) accept author charges as research project expenditure when researchers publish their studies in open access journals which charge author charges on accepted articles. See the working group's recommendations.


The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) announced an a public access guideline in January 2006 that specifies:

The DFG expects the research results funded by it to be published and to be made available, where possible, digitally and on the internet via open access. To achieve this, the contributions involved should either be deposited in discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives (repositories) following conventional publication, or should be published in a recognised peer-reviewed open access journal. See the DFG's guidelines.

South Africa

In March 2006 the Academy of Science of South Africa issued its Report on a Strategic Approach to Research Publishing in South Africa , which recommended creation of a national network of online open archives of research and urged South African journals to dramatically increase their visibility by creating open-access Internet editions as soon as possible. See the Academy's full report.

United Kingdom

In June 2006 the Research Councils UK issued a position statement on access to research outputs, calling for deposit of the outputs from councils-funded research in open online archives. See the position statement here.

Since then five of the eight Research Councils have issued open archiving mandates for the research papers they fund. A sixth "strongly encourages" deposit. Only two have no policy supporting open access. Click here for links to individual policies.

Since October 2006, The Wellcome Trust , the United Kingdom's largest private biomedical research funder, has required its grantees to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscripts of their research papers into PubMed Central. Wellcome also provides grantholders with additional funding to cover publication fees charged by some open access journals. See The Wellcome Trust's position statement.

The Chief Scientist Office in the Scottish Executive Health Department requires of its grantees that " a copy of the final, peer-reviewed version of all papers arising from the funded research and accepted for publication must be deposited in a publicly accessible repository (UK PubMed Central when this is established) and be made freely available within 6 months." See the full document.

It's time for all public funders of research to implement public access policies.
Research is too important to keep it locked up.