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Open Research


A potted history of Open Access in the UK and worldwide

The recent focus on Open Access to research outputs in the UK builds on over a decade of research and policy in this area. A good in depth overview of the open access movement appeared in ArsTechnica.UK in June 2016 Open access: All human knowledge is there—so why can’t everybody access it?





  • 7 April: the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) introduced their Open Access policy that all NIH funded peer reviewed articles must be freely available on the PubMed Central site within one year of publication.



  • 22 February: the Obama Administration released a new policy that required US Federal agencies spending over $100 million in research and development to have a plan to 'support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government' within 12 months
  • 1 April: The RCUK Policy on Open Access came into force, requiring funded research to be made publicly available through a repository with six months for STEM subjects and 12 months for AHSS subjects. A block grant was available to pay for article processing charges to make articles Open Access at publication under a CC-BY licence if the embargo periods are longer.
  • April: Science Europe - a Bussels-based association of 51 European national research organisations - released its Position Statement  - Principles for the Transition to Open Access to Research Publications
  • 27 May: The Global Research Council - heads of science and engineering funding agencies from around the world - released an Action Plan towards Open Access to Publications
  • July: NIH began delaying some continuing grant awards because of non-compliance with Open Access policies
  • 3 September: The Business, Innovations and Skills Committee published their Fifth report - Open Access which recommended greater support for green open access, shorter embargo periods and lower APCs
  • October: The European Research Council released guidelines requesting that a copy of any research article, monograph or other research publication that is supported in whole, or in part, by ERC funding be deposited in a suitable repository immediately upon publication. OA should be as soon as possible, and no later than six months after publication.



  • 1 May: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Policy framework on research data's requirement that researcher provide a link to their supporting data for all funded papers published begins.


  • 1 April 2016: REF 2021 Open Access Policy comes into effect.


  • 5 March 2018:  Wellcome Trust announces review of its OA Policy.  Outcome expected to be announced before the end of 2018.
  • 1 April 2018:  UK Research and Innovation created.  A new body, operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.
  • July 2018.  REF 2021 Open Access policy updated.  Accepted manuscripts uploaded to pre-print servers before publication date will be considered compliant with the Open Access policy, and eligible for submission to REF 2021. 
  • 11 July 2018:  A coalition of 11 leading funding agencies from across Europe, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council, announce the launch of cOAlition S, to provide By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”
  • 5 September 2018:  Wellcome Trust announces the outcome of the review of its OA Policy.  The revised policy will apply to any article that includes original, peer-reviewed research and is submitted for publication from 1 January 2020.  The new open access policy is in line with the key principles of Plan S. "By publishing this policy Wellcome commits to joining cOAlition S and to work in partnership with other funders to make all research articles open access."

Open Access in the international context

The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAPis a searchable international registry charting the growth of open access mandates adopted by universities, research institutions and research funders that require their researchers to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research article output by depositing it in an open access repository. It contains information on policy choices such as deposit and licensing conditions, rights holding or embargo lengths and Gold OA options. 

A PASTEUR4OA report on policy effectiveness "Working Together to Promote Policy Alignment in Europe - Work Package 3 Report Open Access Polices" stems from an examination of deposit rates in mandated and non-mandated institutions. It provides evidence that effective policies require mandatory deposit, a deposit that cannot be waived and linking deposit with research evaluation.

One way to track the fast moving open access situation across Europe is to look at the Open Access diary for Europe, This service brings together European news and developments on Open Access drawn from the international Open Access Tracking Project. It is possible to browse by country and summarises some of the key policy developments and services and projects in the European Union, plus a special view on humanities resources.

The Australian Open Access Support Group maintains a page 'Statements on OA in Australia and the world'

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