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Open Access Policy Frequently Asked Questions

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The following questions are updated as new information becomes available. Email questions and comments to openaccess@gatesfoundation.org.

ABOUT THE POLICY

Why did the foundation adopt an Open Access Policy?

    The free, immediate, and unrestricted access to research will accelerate innovation, helping to reduce global inequity and empower the world’s poorest people to transform their own lives.

    Leigh Morgan, the foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, tells how the foundation is helping to achieve all this, in her latest blog, Taking Steps to Expand Access to High-Quality Scientific Publishing. Learn about the genesis of the foundation’s policy in this blog post by Trevor Mundel, MD, the foundation's President of Global Health and read more about the policy’s formation on the SPARC website.

When did the Open Access Policy go into effect?

    The policy has been included in agreements since January 1, 2015. Any manuscripts submitted after January 1, 2017 for those grants signed after January 1, 2015, are required to be published on the open access terms as stated, with no exceptions.

When receiving funding from multiple institutions, whose policy should grantees adhere to?

    The Open Access Policy applies to all peer-reviewed, published research funded by the foundation, whether the funding is in whole or in part. Agreements with a start date as of January 1, 2015, are required to comply with all elements of the policy.

    If other funders of a multi-funded grant are concerned about adhering to the policy, the foundation will engage in a discussion with the other funder to understand their concerns. Grantees can contact their Program Officer or openaccess@gatesfoundation.org.

Where will publications be made accessible?

    Peer-reviewed articles accepted by a publisher are posted on the publisher’s website. The foundation has also selected PubMed Central as its publication repository. The foundation will work directly with the publisher and PubMed Central to ensure that articles are deposited on the author’s behalf.

Why does the policy require publication under a Creative Commons Attribution Generic License (CC BY 4.0) or equivalent license?

    Transforming the lives of the world’s poorest people will require the collaboration of many partners, and it is crucial that they can access and use research without restriction. A CC BY license allows users to build upon the research without restriction.

Will the foundation make an exception if a grantee wants to publish in a journal that is not compliant with the Open Access Policy?

    Open access publishing is a non-negotiable term included in all grant agreements as of January 1, 2015. Please log into Chronos to search and find journals that offer open access options as required by the foundation's policy. Chronos will list the most current information about which journals offer these options, i.e., the listing for Science will reflect the current agreement between the Gates Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

PAYMENT AND BUDGETING

Who will pay for the fees to enable policy compliance?

    The foundation is responsible for individual article processing charges and fees to the extent required to enable grantees to comply with the foundation’s Open Access Policy.

Should grant and contract budgets include open access fees?

    Grant and contract budgets should not include open access fees, which are typically $1200-$5200 per article. The foundation will pay these fees from a central budget (not the grant or contract budget) directly to the applicable publisher or service provider. A central budget ensures that all published, peer-reviewed research is funded regardless of the agreement end date.

    For individual articles, the central open access budget will also cover additional costs such as page charges in order to minimize administrative burden. For special issues and supplements, only the open access publishing fees are covered by the central open access budget. The foundation's program team and grantee are responsible for managing any publisher agreements and covering any additional costs beyond the open access fees. To ensure stewardship of the foundation's funds, the program team is best positioned to determine if these additional costs and contract terms are warranted to achieve overall funding goals and outcomes.

Can grantees be reimbursed if they used their own funds to pay open access fees?

    The foundation is unable to reimburse grantees for payments already made to a publisher or service provider.

How are the open access fees paid?

    Grantees should not pay these fees out of their budget or seek reimbursement from the foundation. Rather, Chronos, a new service developed by the foundation, manages payment of these fees from a central budget directly to the applicable publisher or service provider.

CHRONOS

What is Chronos?

  • Chronos is a new service for Gates-funded researchers co-developed by the foundation. Chronos simplifies and manages the process of publishing under the foundation's Open Access Policy terms.
  • We want grantees and employees to focus on the research – not the process of publishing research.

How does Chronos work?

  • Gates-funded researchers and Gates employees use this service to help manage the open access publishing process. They are able to search for journals offering open access options and submit their articles directly to the publisher. Chronos takes care of publisher payment processing, the foundation's compliancy checks, and tracking publishing activity along with its impact. For a closer look, watch the video walk-through.

Why is Chronos only available to Gates Foundation grantees and employees?

  • While Chronos is currently available to foundation grantees and employees, we've built the service to scale to other funders and institutions. We anticipate making Chronos available to a wider audience in the next year.

How do grantees and Gates Foundation employees access Chronos?

  • Grantees:
    • For agreements signed on or after January 1, 2015, the primary grantee contact will receive a Chronos account activation email 6 weeks after the agreement start date. Primary contacts can add team members, such as subgrantees and administrators, who will receive a Chronos account activation email and have permission to submit articles under the grant.
    • For agreements signed prior to January 1, 2015, grantees can go to Chronos and click Request Gates Grantee Access.
    • For institutional research administrators, email openaccess@gatesfoundation.org to request access to all grants awarded to your institution. Upon approval, you will receive a Chronos account activation email.
  • Gates Foundation Employees: Go to Chronos and click Request Gates Employee Access.

What if an accepted article was not submitted through Chronos?

  • The foundation requires that all articles are submitted through Chronos beginning August 2016. If an article was in peer-review prior to the launch of Chronos and has been accepted for publication, email your Gates Foundation grant number, the journal's name, manuscript number, and article title to openaccess@gatesfoundation.org. You will receive a Chronos account and the Chronos support team will work with you to ensure the publication meets the policy's terms and manage the payment process directly with the publisher.

UNDERLYING DATA GUIDELINES

The Open Access Policy requires that data underlying published research results will be accessible and open immediately.

The following guidelines focus on data underlying published research. Activities around pre-publication data planning, collection, analysis, storage, sovereignty, informed consent, interoperability, and the use of disciplinary standards are addressed at the individual grant and contract level by the grantee and program officer during the proposal stage.

These guidelines are aligned with existing industry best practices, including data availability policies required by several publishers. As new practices emerge, the guidelines will be reviewed and updated as needed.

What is underlying data?

    Underlying data encompasses all primary data, associated metadata, and any additional relevant data necessary to understand, assess, and replicate the reported study findings in totality.

    Underlying data can be compiled into any file type, including any necessary access instructions, code, or supporting information files, to ensure the file(s) can be accessed and used by others.

    Note: We do not require sharing of data that is ethically unsound or legally encumbered.

Why is access to underlying data important?

    Providing access to underlying data is key in fulfilling the foundation’s mission of rapid and free exchange of scientific ideas to move humanity forward by improving and saving lives. Without barriers the scientific community can freely benefit from data and build upon each other’s work.

    Access to underlying data allows for:

    • Barrier-free and timely access to data
    • Reassessment of current data interpretations and analysis
    • Ability to verify, reproduce, and reuse data in new ways
    • Data provenance and preservation

Where should grantees deposit data?

    Best practice: Deposit data in a repository already established for your research domain according to the recognized standards of your discipline. Required or suggested repositories are often identified within a journal’s author guidelines.

    For further suggestions, see:

    When no established repository is available: Deposit data in your institutional research data repository or in a generalist repository, such as:

    • Dataverse – an open source web application developed by Harvard University to share, preserve, cite, explore, and analyze research data.
    • Dryad – a curated resource that makes the data underlying scientific publications discoverable, freely reusable, and citable.
    • Figshare – a repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, shareable, and discoverable manner.
    • Zenodo – a repository developed and hosted by CERN that enables researchers to share and preserve research outputs in any size, any format, and from any science.

How should grantees make data accessible and open?

    The repository you choose should:

How does the foundation ensure compliance with this element of the Open Access Policy?

    The foundation checks and tracks compliancy through Chronos, a new service to help you manage the process of publishing under the policy’s terms.

How can grantees get support for the process of depositing my underlying data?

    Technical assistance and user support is provided by the specific repository; visit their website for further information.

Updated January 1, 2017

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