Compliance with funder policies and mandates

Topic lead: Tom Olijhoek, Lucia Loffreda, Clarissa F. D. Carneiro
Last updated: 05/06/2023

Funder policies and mandates increasingly focus on open access, and publishers have a growing need to provide authors with publishing options that comply with these. An absence of suitable copyright and licensing options means that funded authors may be unable to publish their outputs in their preferred journal.

Today, many national and international funders (including the European Commission, government agencies and private foundations) have open access policies and mandates. These require grant recipients to provide open access to published results arising from funded research. In some cases, funders have specific requirements in terms of immediate open access publishing, licensing and copyright retention.

Broadly speaking, if a journal publishes under the diamond or the gold model (see What is an open access journal?) and meets minimum technical requirements (e.g. as required by cOAlition S and in the 2022 OSTP Memorandum), then it is likely to be compliant with funder requirements for open access publication. Hybrid journals, or journals looking to transition to open access, may however need to seek further guidance on compliant publishing routes, particularly as openness is growing to become a standard expectation.

Navigating funder requirements around the world

Open access requirements set by research funders vary around the world. However, most public research funders expect grant holders to publish outputs arising from funded research in gold open access venues or to self-archive publications in open access repositories, potentially allowing an embargo period (green open access – see Glossary).

Research funders often specify licence options, too, meaning that open access journals should ensure that the set of licences available to authors is aligned with expectations. Offering Creative Commons licences is the easiest way to comply with the most widespread funder requirements, and we recommend that journals do not craft custom licensing options or offer less common licences to their authors (unless there is a clear rationale for doing so).

Where a journal does not offer compliant publishing options for a funded author, the author may be unwilling or unable to publish in that journal. It is therefore important to identify key funders for the subject area(s) served by the journal and keep up-to-date with changes in their policy requirements. Some databases and tools can help to find up to date information on funder requirements relating to open access:

  • Sherpa Juliet is a searchable database and single focal point of up-to-date information concerning international funders policies and their requirements on open access, publication and data archiving.
  • ROARMAP is the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies. It is a database of international funder and institutional open access policies.
  • cOAlition S Journal Checker Tool allows authors funded by funders belonging to cOAlition S to determine whether they may publish in a given journal.

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