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EU Policy

Article 29.2 of the Model Grant Agreement

sets out detailed legal requirements on open access to scientific publications: under Horizon 2020, each beneficiary must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to its results. To meet this requirement, beneficiaries must, at the very least, ensure that any scientific peer-reviewed publications can be read online, downloaded and printed. Since any further rights – such as the right to copy, distribute, search, link, crawl and mine – make publications more useful, beneficiaries should make every effort to provide as many of these options as possible. Peer-reviewed publications are those assessed by other scholars. Peer review is typically, though not exclusively, organised by the journal or publisher to which an article or manuscript is submitted. However, new approaches are expected to become more prevalent in years to come.

The dominant type of scientific publication is the journal article.

Grant beneficiaries are also strongly encouraged to provide open access to other types of scientific publications including:

  • monographs
  • books
  • conference proceedings
  • grey literature (informally published written material not controlled by scientific publishers, e.g. reports).

The open access mandate comprises 2 steps:

  1. depositing publications in repositories
  2. providing open access to them

These steps are explained in more detail below.

They may or may not occur simultaneously, depending on whether open access publishing (‘gold’ open access) or self-archiving (‘green’ open access) is used, and, in the case of self-archiving, depending on the embargo period (if any).

Step 1Depositing publications in repositories

Beneficiaries must deposit a machine-readable electronic copy of the published version or final peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication in a repository for scientific publications. This must be done as soon as possible and at the latest upon publication. This step applies even where open access publishing (‘gold’ open access) is chosen to ensure that the article is preserved in the long term. ‘Machine-readable electronic copy’ – publications must be in a format that can be used and understood by a computer. They must be stored in text file formats that are either standardised or otherwise publicly known so that anyone can develop new tools for working with the documents. In some cases, the final version of an article can be deposited before publication, for example at the time when the article is accepted by the journal. The latest acceptable time to deposit a publication is the date of publication. Where possible, the version deposited should be identical to the published version (in layout, pagination, etc.). A repository for scientific publications is an online archive. Institutional, subjectbased and centralised repositories are all acceptable choices. Repositories that claim rights over deposited publications and preclude access are not.

The Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe (OpenAIRE) is the recommended entry point for researchers to determine what repository to choose. It also offers support services for researchers, such as the National Open Access Desks.

Other useful listings of repositories are:

  • Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)
  • Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR)

Article 29.2 of the Model Grant Agreement also mentions that beneficiaries must aim to deposit at the same time as the publication the research data needed to validate the results presented in the deposited scientific publications (‘underlying data’), ideally in a data repository.

Note that this requirement is not related to the openness of the data but to data management – openness of research data is addressed in article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement

Step 2 – Providing open access to publications

After depositing publications beneficiaries must ensure open access to those publications via the chosen repository.

Beneficiaries can choose one of two main ways to meet this requirement: 1. Self-archiving / ‘green’ OA: beneficiaries can deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript in a repository of their choice. They must ensure open access to the publication within at most 6 months (12 months for publications in the social sciences and humanities). To provide support concerning compliance with Horizon 2020 embargo periods the Commission offers a model amendment to publishing agreements, which are often signed between authors and publishers. This model is not mandatory but reflects the obligations for the beneficiary under the H2020 grant agreements. It can be supplemented by further provisions agreed between the parties, provided they are compatible with the Grant Agreement. The Commission/Agency takes no responsibility for the use of this model.

  1. Open access publishing / ‘gold’ OA: researchers can also publish in open access journals, or in hybrid journals that both sell subscriptions and offer the option of making individual articles openly accessible. Monographs can also be published either on a purely open access basis or using a hybrid business model. ‘Article processing charges’ are eligible for reimbursement during the duration of the project (as other costs defined in Article 6.2.D.3 of the Model Grant Agreement). As stated, the article must also be made accessible through a repository upon publication. The costs of ‘gold’ open access publications incurred once a project is completed cannot be refunded from that project’s budget.