This document provides researchers and their organisations with a compliance checklist, a step-by-step guide and an FAQ to support compliance with the NIHR Open Access publication policy when publishing peer-reviewed research articles. This will be a living document and will be updated based on NIHR’s experience of supporting researchers and their organisations.
The following list is a summary of points to check against articles published to ensure they comply with the NIHR open access policy:
- Is the article in-scope of the NIHR open access policy?
- Will the article be made immediately and freely available on Europe PMC and PubMed Central from publication date?
- Has the article been assigned the correct licence (CC BY, OGL, or CC BY-ND by exception)?
- [If submitting to a subscription journal] Has the NIHR’s licensing requirement statement been included within the acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter/note accompanying the submission?
- Does the article include a data sharing statement?
- Does the article contain appropriate acknowledgement of NIHR funding?
The following step-by-step guidance provides detailed guidance on how to comply with the NIHR open access policy.
Step 1 : Find out if the article falls under the scope of the policy
Type of publications in-scope
The NIHR open access policy applies to all peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 June 2022. These include articles such as:
- Original research articles
- Reviews not commissioned by publishers
- Conference papers accepted for final publication in a journal, conference proceeding with an ISSN number, or a publishing platform. Conference abstracts are out of scope of the policy.
Types of publication not in scope:
- Non-peer reviewed material
- Monographs (with the exception of NIHR Journals Library publications)
- Book chapters
- Edited collections
- Reviews commissioned by publishers
Research projects in scope
The full policy applies to publications which result from:
- NIHR Programmes, Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio: Research studies where the research costs are funded in whole or in part by the NIHR. Personal awards that do not fund research are out of scope of this policy.
- For NIHR Infrastructure (including NIHR research units and schools): Research studies where the majority of the research costs are funded by the NIHR.
NIHR Infrastructure in scope:
- NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs)
- NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs)
- NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs)
- NIHR Patient Safety and Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs)
- NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs)
- NIHR Research Units, including NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs), NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) and NIHR Policy Research Units (PRUs)
- NIHR Schools of Primary Care, Social Care and Public Health
NIHR Infrastructure out of scope:
Deposit requirement for articles otherwise out of scope
If the peer-reviewed research article is not within the above scope of research projects, but nevertheless acknowledges NIHR support or funding, the Author Accepted Manuscript or Version of Record must be deposited and made freely accessible (preferably under a CC BY or OGL licence) through Europe PMC, as soon as possible, but no later than 12 months post the official final publication date. This can include, for example, articles which result from NIHR Infrastructure research studies with minority NIHR funding.
This requirement does not prevent authors from depositing their article in Europe PMC sooner than 12 months, or from also depositing their article in their institutional or another subject-based repository.
As NIHR is a Europe PMC funder, NIHR funded researchers can submit Author Accepted Manuscript directly to Europe PMC Europe PMC plus. After deposit, the manuscript will be made available in Europe PMC and PMC USA, which share all full text content as part of the PMC International initiative. The Europe PMC website includes a guide to using Europe PMC plus.
Step 2 : Choose the copyright licence
All in-scope articles must be published under the Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY), or if an author is subject to Crown Copyright (because they are an officer or servant of the Crown, such as a civil servant), they may publish under an Open Government Licence (OGL).
These licences allow anyone to read, share, and adapt the original material for free, as long as appropriate credit is given to the original author. This will ensure that there are no barriers to the re-use and dissemination of NIHR funded articles and their content, while preserving the moral rights of authors.
For more information on the terms of the CC BY licence, please visit the Creative Commons web page for CC BY.
For more information on the terms of the Open Government Licence, visit the National Archives page for the OGL.
Please note that these licensing requirements do not apply to any materials included within a research article that are provided by third-party copyright holders, such as photographs or diagrams. The third-party materials in the article can be subject to more restrictive copyright licences than outlined in this policy.
These licensing requirements do not apply to data deposited separately to the article. For more information on research data sharing, please read the NIHR position on the sharing of research data.
Non-derivative licence by exception
NIHR considers CC BY/OGL to be an appropriate licence in most cases. We recognise, however, that some research may require a more restrictive licence, for which a Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives licence (CC BY-ND) licence may be granted. This licence allows anyone to read and share the original material for free, with appropriate credit (like the CC BY licence), but with the additional restriction that the creation and sharing of a derivative work must be authorised by the copyright holder (this can include translations and adaptations). For more information on the terms of CC BY-ND licence, please visit the Creative Commons web page for CC BY-ND.
Authors may request the use of a CC BY-ND licence for reasons within the context of the research and NIHR will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. To apply for an exception, submit a request as soon as possible, and before publication of the article, on the NIHR Open Access Request Form, which will be made available before 1 June 2022.
NIHR encourages authors to give due consideration to not restrict opportunities for sharing and reuse of publicly funded research.
Step 3 : Choose the journal(s) to apply to
Authors will be able to use Sherpa Fact to identify if the journal they wish to publish in offers compliant publishing options under the NIHR open access policy. This will be available before 1 June 2022. By entering the funder name (NIHR) and the target journal, Sherpa Fact can indicate how authors can comply with the NIHR open access policy when publishing with the journal in question.
Where a journal or platform is not listed in Sherpa Fact, authors should check their policies on the journal website against the requirements of the open access policy. If you are still unsure, please contact us at email@example.com.
If the journal does not offer any compliant open access option for authors to comply with the NIHR open access policy, they should consider alternative publishing options.
NIHR Journals Library
Reports resulting from the following NIHR research programmes are required to publish in NIHR’s Open Access, peer-reviewed journals in the NIHR Journals Library:
- Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME)
- Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR)
- Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
- Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)
Public Health Research (PHR)
Journals in the NIHR Journals Library are free to publish in and are fully compliant with the NIHR Open Access policy.
Please note, publications in the NIHR Journals Library are the research findings from the participating NIHR research programmes. Speculative article submissions, including those from other NIHR programmes are not considered. The NIHR Journals Library will also soon be launching a new journal, which will include selected publications from invited Global Health Research awards.
For more information about this requirement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIHR Open Research
NIHR has established NIHR Open Research, an open publishing platform, to complement the NIHR Journals Library and ensure venues are available to host findings from all NIHR funded research. The use of NIHR Open Research is optional and APC costs are chargeable to NIHR award holders who choose to use this venue for publication of their NIHR funded findings. NIHR Open Research is fully compliant with the NIHR Open Access policy.
Step 4 : Choose a route to comply with the policy
To comply with the policy, the most up to date Version of Record or the Author Accepted Manuscript of in-scope articles must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC by the official final publication date, without any embargo period, and under a compliant licence.
This can be achieved this by:
- Publishing the research article in a journal or publishing platform which has an agreement with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to deposit the Version of Record in PMC and allow that content to be shared with Europe PMC at the time of publication. Sherpa Fact or the journal’s website can be used to identify if they provide this service, which is often provided when an open access fee has been paid.
- Publish the research article in a journal or a publishing platform and the author deposits the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (or Version of Record, where the publisher permits) in Europe PMC via the Europe PMC plus submission system by the official final publication date. After deposit, the manuscript will be made available in both PubMed Central and Europe PMC, which share all full text content as part of the PMC International initiative. The Europe PMC website includes a guide to using Europe PMC plus. The author must remember to deposit any corrected versions after publication into Europe PMC.
The Version of Record is the final published version of the article containing the publisher's copy edits and layout. In Sherpa Fact it is referred to as the ‘published version’
The Author Accepted Manuscript is the author’s version of a research article that has been peer-reviewed and is accepted for publication, prior to typesetting by the publisher. In Sherpa Fact, it is referred to as the ‘accepted version’.
If an open access fee, such as an article processing charge (APC), has been funded by the NIHR, a condition of the funding is that the publisher takes responsibility for making the Version of Record (and any corrected versions thereafter) freely available on the publishing journal platform and to have an agreement with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to deposit the Version of Record in PMC and allow that content to be shared with Europe PMC at the time of publication.
The above should not prevent authors from also depositing a copy in their institutional or another subject-based repository.
For the Global Health Research portfolio, NIHR encourages authors to deposit in Europe PMC in line with the standard NIHR open access policy, although an appropriate and sustainable local institutional, national or regional repository may be used instead, where available.
What costs will NIHR fund?
When an open access payment is applicable, for example an APC, NIHR will pay reasonable fees required by a publisher to effect publication in line with the criteria of this policy. For more information see the funding guidance.
Step 5 : Submitting the article to the journal or publishing platform
Submissions to subscription journals must include the following text in the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter/note accompanying the submission:
‘For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence (‘Open Government Licence’ or where permitted by the National Institute for Health Research, ‘CC BY-ND public copyright licence’ may be stated instead) to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising’.
For example, an author who is complying with the policy by applying a CC BY licence would include the following text:
‘For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising’.
In-scope research articles must include:
- A data sharing statement describing how the underpinning research data can be accessed. Read more about our position on the sharing of research data.
- Appropriate acknowledgment of NIHR, including unique award identifier. This will allow NIHR to reduce overall researcher burden by monitoring open access compliance through existing data sources, rather than requiring manual reporting from researchers. Read more on how to acknowledge the NIHR in research outputs.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Does the policy apply to publications arising from existing contracts?
Yes. The policy applies to NIHR funded articles submitted for publication on or after 1 June 2022, irrespective of the award start date. See the funding guidance for rules on time limits for claiming funds to publish articles Open Access after the award end date.
If a publication is co-authored with collaborators who are not funded or supported by NIHR does it need to comply with the policy?
Yes. Articles arising from NIHR awards in the scope of the policy are required to comply with the policy. NIHR award holders should be clear on funder requirements they are subject to when agreeing collaborations.
How do I know if the journal's publisher has an agreement with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to deposit the Version of Record in PMC and allow that content to be shared with Europe PMC at the time of publication?
Authors can check Sherpa Fact to identify if the journal’s publishers will action this, choosing ‘NIHR’ as the funder, and the journal you want to apply to.
My research is funded by multiple funders, which open access policy do I have to comply with?
Publications resulting from projects in scope of the NIHR Open access policy will need to comply with the NIHR’s policy, and with any other funder’s mandates that apply. We expect our policy to be compatible with other funders’ open access policies and have worked with UKRI and other funders to achieve greater alignment to make it easier for authors to comply.
How do I know if the majority of the research costs are funded by the NIHR in my project?
Research costs, as defined by the AcoRD system for attributing the costs of health and social care research, are the costs of the R&D itself that end when the research ends. They relate to activities that are being undertaken to answer the research questions. For the Global Health Research portfolio researchers should also consider the Global Health Research Finance Guidance.
If you are unsure if the majority of the research costs are funded by the NIHR in your project, you should contact the NIHR coordinating centre.
Do all the articles authored by NIHR-funded researchers have to be made open access, even those which have not been funded by NIHR?
No. Only articles directly resulting from NIHR funded awards in scope of the policy must be made open access.