NIHR open access policy
The NIHR supports the principle of open access to the outputs of research, which can offer both social and economic benefits, as well as aid the development of new research and stimulate wider economic growth of the UK economy. The NIHR is also committed to adding value in research, one aspect of which is ensuring that research results are published in full in an accessible and unbiased report.
We support the aims and goals of Plan S, an initiative by a consortium of research funders to make all publicly funded, peer-reviewed research publications immediately and freely Open Access to the reader.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the NIHR support the fundamental principles that:
- ideas and knowledge derived from publicly funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation and scrutiny as widely, rapidly and effectively as possible
- the models and mechanisms for publication and access to research results must be both efficient and cost effective in the use of public funds
- the outputs from current and future research should be preserved and remain accessible for future generations.
This policy applies to any peer-reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers, final reports or executive summaries) that are supported in whole or in part by NIHR funding, that have been submitted for publication since 1 April 2014, and which are published. For the purposes of this policy, the NIHR considers that the ‘content’ of a paper includes, but is not limited to, the text, data, images and figures within a paper.
The policy does not cover books, critical editions, volumes and catalogues, or forms of non-peer-reviewed material. However, the NIHR encourages authors of such material to consider making them open access where possible.
DHSC and NIHR require that NIHR-funded researchers publish their main study findings in a peer-reviewed, open access journal.
- Research should be published in a journal that makes the findings available using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, and allows immediate deposit of the final published version in other repositories without restriction on re-use. If this is not possible, then the authors must reconsider the appropriateness of the original publication and how to comply with the point above.
- A copy of the final manuscript of any research papers supported in whole or in part by the NIHR should be deposited with Europe PMC upon acceptance for publication, to be made freely available as soon as possible and in any event within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication.
- It is expected that award holders will make provision from their funding award to cover the costs of publishing in an open access journal (previous transition arrangements have been withdrawn). If necessary, researchers may need to contact the awarding NIHR coordinating centre to discuss covering open access costs. This requirement does not apply to any recipient of NIHR funding prior to 1 April 2014, who remain under the requirements of their original contract. However, it is recommended that these award holders contact the appropriate NIHR managing centre to discuss publication.
- The above should not prevent researchers from also depositing a copy in their own institutional or another subject-based repository should they choose to do so, or be required to do so by their employing institution subject to any restrictions from the publishers.
Should a researcher inform the relevant NIHR managing centre of their wish to publish a paper in a journal that is unwilling to agree either to the overarching aims of this policy, or to deposition of the manuscript in Europe PMC within six months of publication, NIHR may, in exceptional and merited circumstance, grant permission for the author to submit the paper for publication in such a journal.
In common with the RCUK policy, DHSC and NIHR also recognise that copyright of the manuscript itself would normally remain with the author.
As part of supporting the drive for openness and transparency in research, and to ensure that researchers consider and plan for data access, the policy requires all NIHR researchers to prepare and submit to the NIHR a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed. The policy does not require that the data must be made open. Read more about our position on the sharing of research data.
Advice on costs
NIHR award holders may find it beneficial to work in cooperation with other research funders' approaches to open access (for example, UKRI’s OA Block Grant, or host organisation publication support schemes). The NIHR reserves the right to review how its funds are being used, but expects researchers and research bodies to make the most cost effective use of funding.
As part of its long standing commitment to open access, the NIHR is a member of BioMed Central. This entitles NIHR researchers to a 15% discount against article processing charges for BioMed Central and SpringerOpen journals. However, NIHR researchers are free to approach any publisher within the scope of the wider policy.
The NIHR supports the recommendation of the Finch Report that research organisations establish Institutional Publication Funds to meet the costs of article processing charges for open access publishing.
Our policy is in line with those of the Research Councils and follows the Government’s response to the 2013 Finch Report Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publication.
Our policy is also in line with the principles of Europe PMC, of which the NIHR is one of the original funders. Launched in January 2007 (as UKPMC), Europe PMC provides a permanent and free-to-access online digital archive of the full text of peer-reviewed research publications (and datasets) that arise from research funded by DHSC, the NIHR and other members of Europe PMC's Funders Group.
DHSC and NIHR will continue to work with the other funders of Europe PMC and Research Councils to ensure that the wider adoption of open access in the research community is managed in a sensitive and timely fashion. The NIHR will work with all parties to ensure that the researcher is not inconvenienced.