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NIHR publishes a suite of guidance and resources to support implementation of the open access policy

Published: 24 March 2022

The NIHR has today published a suite of guidance and resources to support stakeholders in the implementation of the revised NIHR open access publication policy, which applies to publications submitted from 1 June 2022.

Following the announcement of the revised open access publication policy last year, the NIHR has worked with stakeholders to develop these new published resources, which include policy and funding guidance.

Policy guidance and resources 

We heard from researchers and their organisations that open access can be technically complex, and they needed further support and guidance to better understand what the NIHR policy required of them. 

To address this, we have developed a step by step policy guidance and a short checklist as a quick summary of how to comply with the policy. This guidance was developed based on where we heard authors and their organisations needed most support and further clarity. It also provides information on how we will manage the CC BY-ND copyright licence exception. This guidance will be a living document with an FAQ section which will be updated from time to time based on our experience of supporting authors and their organisations. 

We are also working with Jisc to add the revised NIHR open access publication policy to Sherpa FACT, a journal compliance tool. Authors will be able to check which publishing routes different journals offer to comply with the NIHR open access publication policy, rather than needing to check individual journal websites. This will be available to use before the implementation of the revised policy on 1 June 2022.

Funding guidance

During the review of the open access policy - through the survey in Autumn 2020 and subsequent engagements and workshops - we asked researchers, research organisations, librarians and others their views on NIHR’s approach to funding open access costs. 

Informed by these engagements, NIHR has reviewed its funding processes to support the revised open access publication policy, aiming to ensure equitable access to funds for all NIHR-funded researchers, irrespective of employer, career stage or study discipline. The new process will remove the need for researchers to predict open access costs upfront, and will instead allocate a funding envelope that can be drawn from during and after the award. The new process will apply to all eligible research award contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio from 1 June 2022. 

For NIHR Infrastructure awards that lie in scope of the open access policy, open access costs will continue to be budgeted and earmarked by applicants at application stage.

Where relevant and appropriate, there will also be a formal process available to all current and future NIHR awards to request additional open access funding, which will be managed by the NIHR on a case by case basis. 

This new funding envelope allocation process will increase standardisation and transparency of NIHR open access funding and will see NIHR committing over £5M per year to support implementation of the revised NIHR open access publication policy. 

Read the Open Access Funding guidance for more information.

Looking forward

We are keen to continue our ongoing dialogue with our stakeholders to ensure we are providing them appropriate support to implement the revised open access publication policy. 

Through our engagement as part of the open access policy review, we heard that some organisations might find it more appropriate and efficient to manage their open access funds in a centralised manner rather than on an award level. While NIHR is not currently able to pay block grants for publishing in the same way as other funders, we want to provide flexibility in how we fund open access costs to allow similar benefits to be realised. In the coming months, we will be holding engagement events with NIHR-funded research organisations to further explore this issue.

NIHR will also continue to work with Jisc and our stakeholders to explore opportunities for the NIHR-funded research community to access publishing transitional arrangements.

You said, we did

We would like to thank our stakeholder community for their continuous engagement and contributions on this important agenda for the NIHR.

We are grateful to the public contributors who gave their time to help develop the revised policy. Today, we have published a report describing how public perspectives helped shape the revised policy and continue to influence wider NIHR activities that seek to improve access to research evidence. 

We heard that open access on its own is not the complete solution and that there are other barriers to accessing research. The report also describes how we aim to address these wider barriers to ensure accessibility to NIHR funded research to all. We will continue to work with Public contributors to inform the wider work of the NIHR, which always seeks to extend the reach and usefulness of the research we fund.

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