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Open Access Policy Frequently Asked Questions




The following questions are updated as new information becomes available. Email questions and comments to


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.

    Read more about the policy’s formation on the SPARC website.

When did the Open Access Policy go into effect?

    In January 2015, we introduced our Open Access policy to enable unrestricted access and reuse of all Funded Developments consisting of primary, peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.

    Effective January 1, 2021, this policy has been updated to be consistent with the key principles of Plan S. As a member of cOAlition S, the foundation is committed to working in partnership with other funders to make all research articles open by default.

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 funders to understand their concerns. Grantees can contact their Program Officer or

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.

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

    Solving the world's hardest problems requires the collaboration of many partners, and it is crucial that they can access and use research easily and openly. 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 Hub to search and find journals that offer open access options as required by the foundation's policy.

Why is the foundation changing it’s Open Access Policy implementation approach beginning January 1, 2021?

    Our original open access policy was introduced five years ago. While we’ve seen great progress in our goal to make publishing outputs more freely available, we have an opportunity to strengthen this momentum and tackle even bigger health challenges by evolving our policy to align with Plan S. These open access principles are endorsed by a global coalition of funders including the Wellcome Trust, UKRI, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization. Together we seek to generate even greater levels of open access funded research and data.


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 Hub manages payment of these fees from the central budget directly to the applicable publisher or service provider.


What is Chronos Hub?

    Chronos Hub is a service for Gates-funded researchers co-developed by the foundation. Chronos Hub 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 Hub 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 Hub 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.

How do grantees and Gates Foundation employees access Chronos Hub?

  • Grantees:
    • For agreements signed on or after January 1, 2015, the primary grantee contact will receive a Chronos Hub 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 Hub 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 Hub and click Request Gates Grantee Access.
    • For institutional research administrators, email to request access to all grants awarded to your institution. Upon approval, you will receive a Chronos Hub account activation email.
  • Gates Foundation Employees: Go to Chronos Hub and click Request Gates Employee Access.

What if an accepted article was not submitted through Chronos Hub?

  • Email your Gates Foundation grant number, the journal's name, manuscript number, and article title to You will receive a Chronos Hub account and the Chronos Hub support team will work with you to ensure the publication meets the policy's terms and manage the payment process directly with the publisher.

Gates Open Research

What is Gates Open Research?

    Gates Open Research publishes scholarly articles reporting any basic scientific, translational, applied and clinical research (including quantitative and qualitative studies) that has been funded (or co-funded) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Each publication must have at least one author who has been, or still is, a recipient of a Gates Foundation grant.

    Articles must be original (not duplications). All research, including clinical trials, systematic reviews, software tools, method articles, and many others, is welcome and will be published irrespective of the perceived level of interest or novelty; confirmatory and negative results, as well as null studies are all suitable. See the full list of article types here.

    All articles are published using a fully transparent, author-driven model: the authors are solely responsible for the content of their article. Invited peer review takes place openly after publication, and the authors play a crucial role in ensuring that the article is peer-reviewed by independent experts in a timely manner. Articles that pass peer review will be indexed in PubMed and elsewhere. Gates Open Research is an Open Research platform: all articles are published open access under a CC-BY license; the publishing and peer-review processes are fully transparent; and authors are asked to include detailed descriptions of methods and to provide full and easy access to source data underlying the results to improve reproducibility.

How does publishing in Gates Open Research work?

    All submissions to Gates Open Research are made via Chronos Hub. Authors can begin their submission to Gates Open Research either from the Submit your Research page, from where they will be directed to Chronos Hub, or from the Chronos Hub site, by choosing Gates Open Research from the list of approved journals.

    There will be no charge for authors. All publishing costs will be covered directly by the Gates Foundation, which will pay the service provider, F1000, a fixed charge per published article. F1000 will provide editorial, production and administrative support to authors throughout the publication and post-publication peer review process.

Why is Gates Open Research only available to Gates Foundation grantees and employees?

    The Gates Foundation is providing this platform to its grantees so they can easily comply with the foundation’s Open Access Policy. By using Gates Open Research, grantees can make their funded research available as soon as it is ready, undergo open peer review, increase the speed with which research is disseminated and enable the sharing of results across the scientific community.

    For more information visit the Gates Open Research homepage.


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 data related to publication in Gates Open Research see these Data Guidelines for more information.

    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 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.


What is cOAlition S?

cOAlition S is an international group of research funders—including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—who are committed to working together to advance open access. They support the implementation of Plan S, which spells out 10 guiding principles for the future of open access publishing. As of January 1, 2021, all members of cOAlition S will require the recipients of their funds to adhere to open access policies.

What is Plan S?

cOAlition S’s set of 10 guiding principles for the future of open access publishing.

Why did the foundation join cOAlition S?

The urgency of today’s biggest challenges requires us to continue taking bold steps to innovate and share research, yet non-compliant journals in the broader publishing system have not evolved their policies to meet this need. Further, we believe authors should be able to retain the rights to their work no matter where they choose to publish it. If more research is freely available, accessible, and reusable, then more lives could be saved and more people could reach their full potential. We believe the best way to accomplish these goals is to work with other organizations who are seeking to make positive change by investing more in open access.

What is the Rights Retention Strategy?

cOAlition S has developed a Rights Retention Strategy to give researchers supported by a cOAlition S Organisation the freedom to publish in their journal of choice, including subscription journals, whilst remaining fully compliant with Plan S.

The foundation will be updating our grant conditions before January 2021 with the aim of ensuring that our Funded Developments, and anyone supported/associated with the grant, can publish in any journal they choose and remain fully compliant.

By accepting our grant conditions, grantees agree to make their research articles open access in line with our policy. However, when grantholders submit their articles for publication, they are often asked to sign a publishing agreement that gives away their rights to deposit in an open access repository, and to publish under a public copyright – CC BY – license. This makes compliance with our open access policy difficult or impossible.

Under the updated conditions, grantees will automatically apply a CC BY licence to all  future  author accepted manuscripts reporting original research supported in whole, or in part, by our grant funding. This will ensure they are compliant with our open access policy. The approach has been endorsed by cOAlition S funders.



The foundation is participating in the worldwide effort to define success in open science, and to establish measurements and partnerships that exemplify how open science can enrich our lives with greater reach and impact.

  • The Leadership Forum was the first of a multi-step process to develop a ‘toolbox’ of practical and transparent indicators for assessing where and when OS models of collaboration best advance science, innovation and public benefit. This project was inspired by the recent adoption of a broad institution-wide OS policy at the Montreal Neurological Institute (the Neuro), Canada’s leading center for neuroscience research and patient care.
  • Publications associated with this project

  • AAAS Agreement
    • For information about the past agreement between the foundation and AAAS see this joint report.


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