Open access policies and mandates | Learn how to comply

Open access policies and mandates

Ensure your research complies with relevant policies

What is an open access policy?

An open access (OA) policy is a set of principles that a research funder, institution, or government enforces. OA mandates can require or recommend researchers provide free, immediate, and full access to published and peer-reviewed research. This is achieved by encouraging researchers to publish in open access publications, depositing their articles in an open access repository, or both. Some major open access policies include:

  • Plan S
  • NIH Public Access Policy
  • NIH Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy
    • OSTP Public Access Memorandum

    All too often, paywalls prevent researchers, policymakers, and the public from accessing the results of research. Yet, taxpayers worldwide spend billions each year funding research. Open access policies can help widen access to research by asking authors to make their research accessible so everyone can learn from research findings. Moreover, open access policies help prevent needless delays that researchers, doctors, patients, students, entrepreneurs, and innovators, currently face. 

    Learn about open access policies, which apply to you, and what they might mean for your research career.  


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    Types of open access policies

    Open access mandates can vary widely. Some OA policies are merely guidelines or recommendations; others are formal requirements that can result in penalties if you don’t adhere to the policy—for example, you may lose grant funding if you don’t comply. OA can differ in several key ways, namely: 

    • Type of mandating organization: Does the policy come from the researcher’s institution or funder, or is there a national directive? 
    • Timing of deposit: Does the policy require the research to be openly available immediately upon publication or after an embargo period? 
    • Type of copyright clause: Does the author retain copyright, or does copyright transfer to the publisher, and can copyright clauses be waivered? 

    How to comply with an open access policy

    Before you submit your research to a publication, check whether your funder or research institution has any requirements about how you should publish your work. If you find out that your research is subject to an OA policy, review the policy in detail to find the answers to these vital questions. 

    What is a compliant open access publication?

    A compliant OA publication meets the requirements set out in an OA policy introduced by a funder, institution, or government.  

    All F1000 publishing venues are fully open access and comply and support international open access mandates. As such, open access, immediate publication, and open data are all hallmarks of our own open access policies. Authors that don’t adhere to the requirements set out may fail our pre-publication checks, and their article may be rejected. 

    How are open access policies enforced?

    Private and public funders invest heavily in research every year and want to see funded research make the greatest impact possible. Funders encourage their researchers to publish funded research openly by launching OA policies. As a result, funders and publishers are increasingly looking to digital tools to monitor author open access compliance. Most recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with OA.Report to measure how well-funded authors were adhering to their OA policies. 

    Funding agencies are also increasingly introducing sanctions to penalize funded researchers that don’t adhere to their open access mandates. The NIH introduced an open access policy that suspends funding for researchers whose research is not indexed on PubMed Central. Similarly, Wellcome also introduced an open access policy to withhold payments to funded researchers who don’t publish their research open access.  

    Typically, all articles submitted to an open access publication undergo checks to confirm that the research complies with the publication’s open access policy. At F1000, our Editorial team ensures that every submitted article meets our open access, open data, and ethical policies. If a submission fails the initial checks, it will be returned to the authors to address the issues, and if they are not resolved satisfactorily the article will not be accepted.     

    How common are open access policies?

    According to the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP), over 1000 policies currently exist internationally. The ROARMAP is a searchable international registry that charts the growth of open access mandates adopted by universities, research institutions, and research funders. 

    The Americas and Europe continue to be the leading regions for OA adoption and enhancement, with the first and second highest number of OA policies, respectively. Together, these regions account for over 85% of OA policies.  

    The countries with the most OA policies currently are the U.S., with 148 OA policies, and the U.K., with 120. Together these two countries account for nearly 25% of global OA policies. Although, this could change significantly in just a few years, with Asian research powerhouses planning on introducing OA mandates within the next three years. In turn, this could position the region as a leader in OA adoption as home to four of the top ten research-producing countries worldwide (China, Japan, South Korea, and India). 

    Universities and other research institutions lead the way in OA policy creation and implementation. Currently, this type of policymaker is responsible for nearly 80% of all OA policies worldwide. Funders and sub-units of research organizations, such as departments, account for 8% and 7% of OA policies, respectively. 

    The rise of open access policies

    Data sharing policies

    There has been a steady growth of both research and data sharing policies worldwide due to a variety of factors. Events such as the global COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of immediate access to research data. In addition, governments, institutions, and funders are steadily recognizing their role in encouraging and facilitating data access and sharing, resulting in increased policies and frameworks. 

    The implementation of OA policies by national funding bodies such as the NIH has been a key turning point. As of 2023, NIH-funded researchers are mandated to publish their research and data OA. 

    Major open access policies globally

    Some of the most widely recognized OA policies are:

    Plan S

    Launched in September 2018, Plan S is an OA initiative launched by cOAlition S, a European consortium of organizations that conduct and fund research. Plan S requires publications that derive from research funded by public grants to be published OA.

    NIH Public Access Policy

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it is the nation’s medical research agency. The NIH Public Access Policy requires NIH-funded researchers to submit final peer-reviewed manuscripts to the digital archive PubMed Central. 

    NIH Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy 

    Introduced in early 2023, the NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing requires all scientific data generated by NIH-funded researchers to be shared in a timely manner for use by the research community and broader public. 

    OSTP Public Access Memorandum

    Established in 1976, The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is a U.S. government department. In 2022, the OSTP issued guidance to make all federally funded research freely available without delay. All agencies are expected to fully implement their updated policies by December 31, 2025. 

    Why comply with open access policies?

    Support reproducibility

    When you make your data and code openly available, you support reproducibility by enabling researchers in your field and beyond to reuse and verify your research, playing a key role in upholding research integrity. 

    Citation advantage

    Research shows that OA content attracts more attention and citations than non-OA content, with some studies reporting that open data sharing is associated with up to 25% more citations.  

    Continued funding

    If you choose not to publish your research OA, you could risk losing funding. Increasingly, funders worldwide are implementing mandates to publish OA, monitoring author compliance, and penalizing researchers that are not publishing OA by suspending funding. 

    Enhance reach and discoverability

    By publishing your research openly, you enable researchers, funders, policymakers, and the general public to access and discover your research so they can use it to make a real difference.  

    What are the costs, and who will pay?

    Typically, you will be required to pay a fee to publish fully open access (Gold OA). This is referred to as an Article Processing Charge (APC). The cost to publish OA can vary across OA publications but is usually paid by the author, funder, institution, or a combination of sources. One factor that can impact how much it costs to publish OA is the type of article you wish to publish. Some article types may cost more to publish OA to reflect the effort involved in processing and publishing different article types.  

    All F1000 Platforms provide a transparent breakdown of APCs, which vary by article type. The F1000Research APCs are broken down by article type, which you can view on the publishing Platform. 

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    The future is open: academic research in the digital age