Canada's new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

Finally, the Canadian government's Tri-Agency funding councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) have released the consolidated final version of it's open access policy. The draft version came out some time ago. The consultation process garnered quite a few responses, which the Tri-Agencies were kind enough to summarize for us.

And finally it is here. I have to admit I was getting a bit concerned. The final version was rumoured to have been kicking around the various departments waiting for final sign-off for months. With the rumours of the Conservatives possibly dropping the writ and calling a spring election I was concerned that the policy would just fall off everyone's radar and then a new government would just restart at least part of the process.

The press release is here. The FAQ is here as well as a toolbox of resources.

Here's the official text of the policy:

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications
1. Preamble
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (“the Agencies”) are federal granting agencies that promote and support research, research training and innovation within Canada. As publicly funded organizations, the Agencies have a fundamental interest in promoting the availability of findings that result from the research they fund, including research publications and data, to the widest possible audience, and at the earliest possible opportunity. Societal advancement is made possible through widespread and barrier-free access to cutting-edge research and knowledge, enabling researchers, scholars, clinicians, policymakers, private sector and not-for-profit organizations and the public to use and build on this knowledge.

Information and communications technology, and in particular the advent of the internet, has transformed the way that science and scholarly research is conducted and communicated. Indicative of this changing landscape has been the steady growth in open access publishing and archiving, which facilitates widespread dissemination of research results. Open access enables researchers to make their publications freely available to the domestic and international research community and to the public at large, thereby enhancing the use, application and impact of research results.

Momentum for open access has been growing as numerous funding agencies and institutions worldwide implement open access policies. The Agencies strongly support open access to research results which promotes the principle of knowledge sharing and mobilization – an essential objective of academia. As research and scholarship become increasingly multi-disciplinary and collaborative, both domestically and internationally, the Agencies are working to facilitate research partnerships by harmonizing domestic policies and aligning with the global movement to open access.

The following principles guide the Agencies in their approach to promoting open access to research publications:

  1. Committing to academic freedom, and the right to publish;
  2. Recognizing the critical importance of peer review to the scholarly communication ecosystem;
  3. Maintaining the high standards and quality of research by committing to academic openness and responsible conduct of research;
  4. Promoting recognized research best practices and standards across disciplines, and embracing and sharing emerging practices and standards;
  5. Advancing academic research, science and innovation;
  6. Effective dissemination of research results; and
  7. Aligning activities and policies between Canadian and international research funding agencies.

2. Policy Objective
The objective of this policy is to improve access to the results of Agency-funded research, and to increase the dissemination and exchange of research results. All researchers, regardless of funding support, are encouraged to adhere to this policy.

3. Policy Statement
3.1 Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication. Recipients can do this through one of the following routes:

a. Online Repositories
Grant recipients can deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an institutional or disciplinary repository that will make the manuscript freely accessible within 12 months of publication. It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.

b. Journals
Grant recipients can publish in a journal that offers immediate open access or that offers open access on its website within 12 months. Some journals require authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) to make manuscripts freely available upon publication. The cost of publishing in open access journals is an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds.

These routes to open access are not mutually exclusive. Researchers are strongly encouraged to deposit a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an accessible online repository immediately upon publication, even if the article is freely available on the journal’s website.

Grant recipients must acknowledge Agency contributions in all peer-reviewed publications, quoting the funding reference number (e.g. FRN, Application ID).

3.2 Publication-related Research Data

CIHR only
Recipients of CIHR funding are required to adhere with the following responsibilities:

  1. Deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate public database (e.g. gene sequences deposited in GenBank) immediately upon publication of research results. Please refer to the Annex for examples of research outputs and the corresponding publicly accessible repository or database.
  2. Retain original data sets for a minimum of five years after the end of the grant (or longer if other policies apply).This applies to all data, whether published or not. The grant recipient's institution and research ethics board may have additional policies and practices regarding the preservation, retention, and protection of research data that must be respected.


4. Implementation Date

CIHR
For research funded in whole or in part by CIHR, this policy applies to all grants awarded January 1, 2008 and onward. While not required, researchers holding grants that were awarded prior to January 1, 2008 are encouraged to adhere to the requirements of this policy.

NSERC and SSHRC
For research funded in whole or in part by NSERC or SSHRC, this policy applies to all grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward. While not required, researchers holding grants that were awarded prior to May 1, 2015 are encouraged to adhere to the requirements of this policy.

5. Compliance with the Policy
Grant recipients are reminded that by accepting Agency funds they have accepted the terms and conditions of the grant or award as set out in the Agencies’ policies and guidelines. In the event of an alleged breach of Agency policy, the Agency may take steps outlined in accordance with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research to deal with the allegation. For research funded by the Agencies, the Institution shall enable researchers to comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Publication Policy, as amended from time to time.

6. Policy Review
The Agencies will review and adapt this policy as appropriate.

7. Additional Information
A) Various resources to assist researchers in complying with this policy can be found in the Toolbox.

B) Further information regarding how to comply with the open access policy can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions.

How do I feel about the final version? Overall, happy to finally have a policy in hand that will move forward and get the research funded by the government of Canada out there and available to the public. Frankly, it is a bit disappointing to have waited so long for a final policy that is so close to the original draft. What could have possibly taken so long?

As such, my comments on the original very closely mirror my comments on this version. I'm disappointed that the Feds didn't invest any kind of effort of new money into a process to ease the transition to open access or to bring stakeholders together. I'm disappointed that they aren't topping up grants or making dedicated funds to pay for at least a little bit of publication charges. I'm disappointed that they didn't extend data requirements beyond CIHR. I'm disappointed that the policy only applies to journal articles and not other funded research outputs. Twelve months is too long, it should be six months until materials need to be made open.

But at the end of the day, those are quibbles. We have a policy. Let's get down to business.

Heather Morrison has some commentary here.

Back in June 2013 I did a post on open access resources in Canada. That post definitely needs updating!

And speaking of resources, Walt Crawford has done an amazing job of chronicling and analyzing open access and the open access movement in his online zine, Cites & Insights, especially over the last year or so with his coverage of "predatory" journals, the costs of open access and the Science journal "sting." He's kindly gathered together links to all those issues on one master post.

I'm copying those links here. Thanks, Walt!

2 responses so far

  • Thad says:

    "I’m disappointed that they aren’t topping up grants or making dedicated funds to pay for at least a little bit of publication charges."

    This. With the proliferation of publishers, there will be cases where the institutional repository will not satisfy the publisher's copyright agreement.

    • John Dupuis says:

      Thad, Part of the rationale for the policy as is is to push publishers towards accepting terms such as allowing IR deposit. Certainly, any author is free to change the publishing contract they are offered. The publisher can accept or decline, but if it happens enough the publishers will move.

      The problem is the short term. A little extra money would have helped people get through he next couple of years without having to make tough publishing decisions, especially early career researchers. On the third hand, it's also up to us in the academy to stop being so anal retentive about where people publish and actually look at the quality of the work rather than the "brand" of the journal.

      There's probably a fourth hand here somewhere but I can't think of it right now...

Leave a Reply