Gates Foundation Announces Open Access Policy for Grantees

The has announced that it is adopting an open-access policy to enable unrestricted access to and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research, including underlying data sets, that it funds in whole or in part.

Under the new policy, publications funded by the foundation must be deposited in a specified repository with proper tagging of metadata; be published under the or an equivalent license; and be made available immediately upon publication, without an embargo period, along with any underlying data sets. The Gates Foundation will pay reasonable fees required by a publisher to effect publication on those terms. While the policy is scheduled to go into effect on January 1 for all new agreements, during a two-year transition period, publishers will be permitted to ask for up to a twelve-month embargo on published research and data. Embargoes on published research funded by the foundation will not be allowed after January 1, 2017.

"We believe that our new open-access policy is very much in alignment with the open-access movement, which has gained momentum in recent years, championed by the NIH, PLoS, Research Councils UK, Wellcome Trust, the U.S. government, and most recently the WHO," a foundation spokesperson told . "The publishing world is changing rapidly as well, with many prestigious peer-reviewed journals adopting services to support open access. We believe that now is the right time to join the leading funding institutions by requiring the open access publication of our funded research." The foundation estimates that of 2,802 articles it funded in 2012 and 2013, about 30 percent were published in open-access journals.

Heather Joseph, executive director of the , called the announcement "a big leap forward" for open access. "It's the first time a funder has explicitly set a policy that will secure free, immediate access — along with full reuse rights," Joseph told Inside Higher Ed. "It's also notable that this is the first funder to put a time limit on the use of embargo periods, underscoring that embargoes are simply a transition mechanism to get to full open access. This sends a strong signal to other funders that the needle continues toward a system of sharing research results where the default mode is open." 

"." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Announcement 11/21/2014. Carl Straumsheim. "." Inside Higher Ed 11/21/2014.