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.
• The Prime Minister announced in 2004 that the Australian Government would establish “Quality and Accessibility Frameworks for Publicly Funded Research.” A key aim is “to ensure that national scholarly output and research data derived from Australian Government funding will be available to researchers and the wider community.” In November 2006, Australia’s Productivity Commission released Public Support for Science and Innovation, which concludes “published papers and data from ARC and NHMRC-funded projects should be freely and publicly available” (draft finding 5.1).
• 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.”
• 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.”
• In January of 2008, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the nation’s major federal body responsible for funding health research, implemented a Policy on Access to Research Outputs. The policy, based on consultations and a survey of the health research community conducted beginning in 2006, asserts that “CIHR has a fundamental interest in ensuring that research outputs are available to the widest possible audience…. As a publicly-funded organization, we have a responsibility to ensure that new advances in health research are available to those who need it and can use it - researchers world-wide, the public and policy makers” It adopted a policy requiring recipients of funds from CIHR to make effort to ensure that articles stemming from CIHR funding are made public accessible “within six months of publication in a peer reviewed journal.”
• The National Cancer Institute of Cancer Research followed the lead of CIHR, and issued a policy that will go into effect in July of 2009, stating “all researchers supported in whole or in part through the NCIC are required to make their published results of NCIC supported work publicly available. Researchers are encouraged to make their work publicly available as soon as possible, but must do so no later than six months after the final publication date.”
• 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.”
• In January 2007, the European Research Council implemented a new policy requiring ERC funded researchers to make the results of the work publicly available. The Council’s policy reads: "The ERC requires that all peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects be deposited on publication into an appropriate research repository where available, such as PubMed Central, ArXiv or an institutional repository, and subsequently made Open Access within 6 months of publication."
• 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)
• 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.
• The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) announced an a public access policy in 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.
Here, discipline-specific delay periods of generally 6-12 months can be agreed upon, before which publication of previously published research results in discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives may be prohibited.
• In September of 2007, the National Knowledge Commission of India published guidelines indicating that “all research articles published by Indian authors receiving any government or public funding must be made available under Open Access and should be archived in the standard OA format on his/her website. Further, as a national academic OA portal is developed, these same research articles should be made available through this portal.”
• In February 2009, a draft of the National Law of Science in Spain was released, and includes a chapter dedicated to Open Access. Article 33 of the draft states (translated from Spanish):
“The agents of the Spanish System of Science and Technology will promote the development of institutional or aggregated repositories to allow open access to the publications of their researchers The researchers, whose research had been granted with public funds shall make publicly available a digital version of their own final draft (peer-reviewed and accepted for publication) as soon as possible, but not later than 6 months after the official date of the publication of this final draft. This final version will be made publicly available in open access repositories, disciplinary or institutional.”
• 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.
• In the U.K., biomedical funders have agreed on a common approach to providing open access to research articles. IN fact, over 90% of research article stemming from U.K. biomedical funding are now publicly available under mandatory policies, including:
• 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.
• Since then six of the eight Research Councils have issued open archiving mandates for the research papers they fund. A sixth “strongly encourages” deposit. Only one has no policy supporting open access.
For links to policies of the individual councils, see: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/access/default.htm
• 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 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.
• 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) and be made freely available within 6 months.”