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Open Access in Canada: “It’s all about choice”


© Copyright 2014 – Canadian Science Publishing.
“[O]pen access is a worldwide phenomenon. However, the urgency of implementation has greater impetus in some nations because of strong OA mandates from large, centralised funders.” Martin Paul Eve, Open Access and the Humanities, p.5. CC BY-SA 4.0
The OA mandates from large funders that Martin Paul Eve mentions in the quote above no doubt refers, at least in part, to RCUK and Wellcome trust open access mandates that have helped to drive OA in the UK. The pace of change gained even greater urgency after HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) released its open access policy for the next Research Excellence Framework. In many respects the UK can be seen to be leading the way in open access, however there are many international initiatives happening as well. So, over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing some international developments in open access. First up is Canada where there have been recent developments akin to those in the UK with large centralised funders mandating OA for papers resulting from funded research.

In Canada there are three main state sponsored funding bodies:

“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.” Government of Canada, Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications Science.gc.ca*

All grants awarded after May 2015 (and all grants from 1st January 2008 for CIHR funded authors) are required to comply with the harmonised open access policy of the three funders. Grant holders will be required to make peer-reviewed journal articles freely available within 12 months of publication. Authors can choose “green” open access and deposit their accepted manuscript in an online repository, or authors can choose to publish in a journal that offers immediate open access via the “gold” route.

There are similarities between the Canadian funding agencies' OA policy and the RCUK open access policy, but there are divergences as well. One such difference is where RCUK stipulate an embargo of between 6 and 24 months depending on which of the 7 research councils has funded the research, the Canadian OA policy stipulates that only a 12 month embargo is allowed. The two policies differ in their approach to APC payments as well; unlike RCUK who have elected to supply UK institutions with funds to pay for immediate “gold” open access, in the Canadian model the cost of OA publishing can come directly from the grant as an eligible expense.

The Canadian funding agencies' open access policy is predicated on the firm belief that spreading the reach and impact of academic research is beneficial to society, both at home and abroad. Aligning the open access policy of the Agencies with international funding agencies such as RCUK was a principal concern.
“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.” Government of Canada, Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications Science.gc.ca*

The UK is not going it alone, and to paraphrase the Canadian funding agencies, open access is a global movement. Over the next few weeks we will highlight other countries around the world that are actively making commitments to open access.


*Quotations are reproduced from an official work that was published by the Government of Canada. The reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.

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