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General Info

generalinfo2The basics about Open Access and how you can participate.

1 - What is Open Access policy of the EC and the ERC?

Horizon 2020

In Horizon 2020 Open Access to Scientific Peer Reviewed Publications has been anchored as an ‘underlying principle’, which means that it has become obligatory for all projects.



In FP7, there was an Open Access Pilot for publications, applicable for approximately 20 % of the budget and in 7 dedicated research areas.  During the run of FP7, the European Commission had two policies on open access in practice, the EC Open Access Pilot and the ERC guidelines for Open Access. These initiatives require that the researcher provides open access to articles resulting from EC funded research, within a specified time period.

2 - What is Open Access?

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Open Access is the immediateonlinefree availability of research outputs without restrictions on use commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements. Open Access includes the outputs that scholars normally give away for free for publication; it includes peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers and datasets of various kinds.

Access to knowledge, information, and data is essential in higher education and research; and more generally, for sustained progress in society. Improved access is the basis for the transfer of knowledge (teaching), knowledge generation (research), and knowledge valorization (civil society).

Providing Open Access to research, both research papers and (the underlying) datasets, is not only beneficial for the public, but also for the researchers: several studies indicate that openness increases citations. Openness also improves reproducibility of your research results – and it might introduce new and perhaps unexpected audiences to your work.

More information: 

Open Access Overview


3 - How can I make my work Open ?

There are two main, non-exclusive ways of making publications and data Open : through self-archiving in repositories  or through publishing in  Open Access journals .

Publishing in an Open Access Journal : you can find a list of reliable Open Access journals in the DOAJ. If the publisher asks for an author fee (also: ‘article processing charge’ or APC), you can declare this an eligible cost in your project budget. Some Open Access Journals offer you the option of archiving the underlying data of an article you submit as well, and there are even journals who only publish datasets and their metadata. 

By self-archiving their work in digital archives or repositories (‘depositing’), researchers can make their publication or data Open Access, even if the final published version of their work is not.  This is possible even if you have assigned the copyright to your publisher (although the assignment of your rights is often negotiable when you ask your publisher about it). Some repositories only accept publications, but in other repositories you can also deposit datasets, whether they're connected with a publication or not.  

Open Access is compatible with copyright, peer review, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.

In its Open Access policy for Horizon 2020, the European Commission explicitly asks to deposit the work in a repository and make it Open Access (after an embargo if necessary) – regardless of whether it has been published in an Open Access Journal or not.

A novelty in Horizon 2020 is the Open Research Data Pilot which aims to improve and maximize access to and re-use of research data generated by projects. It will be monitored with a view to developing the European Commission policy on open research data in future Framework Programmes.



4 - What is an Open Access Journal?

One way of providing Open Access is to publish in an Open Access Journal. These journals make their articles available for free by funding their publication services in other ways than through end-user subscriptions. A lot of journals fund their workings by charging Article Processing Charges (APCs), although not all publishers do and there exist huge variations in the actual amount of the APC.

A lot of traditional journals also offer the possibility of making individual articles Open Access upon payment of an APC (in this case they are called hybrid journals). Unfortunately, while the individual article thus becomes freely available, the journal as a whole remains closed access.

APCs can be included in the costs of research funding, so the money for access comes through the research funder, rather than through the library budget. Of course, the initial source of the money is often the same (from government funding).

There is a growing number of Open Access Journals; most disciplines are now represented. A comprehensive overview is provided by the Directory of Open Access Journals, DOAJ.

Some Open Access Journals offer you the option of archiving the underlying data of an article you submit as well, and there are even journals who only publish datasets and their metadata.


5 - What are repositories?

An Open Access repository is a database or a virtual archive established to collect, disseminate and preserve scientific output like scientific articles and datasets and make them freely available. The action of depositing material in a repository is (self)archiving. Depending on personal preferences or publisher's policies, the author can make his work available in Open Access or (temporarily) restrict the access to it.

Repositories can be either linked to an institution or department or linked to a research field or subject, i.e. Institutional or Subject Repositories.

When using the OpenAIRE deposit service you will be guided through the steps of deposition and also if possible guided to a relevant repository (check out the list of compatible repositories). OpenAIRE uses data from the Directory of Open Access Repositories, OpenDOAR, and from the Registry of Research Data Repositories, Re3data

  • Subject based repositories are repositories oriented for research output from one or more well defined research domains. Classic examples are ArXiv and Europe Europe PubMed Central. All researchers working in certain subject areas can make use of subject repositories – regardless of their affiliation or geographic location.
  • Institutional Repositories are repositories that are maintained and curated by institutions - very often the library. Repositories collect, curate and make the research output of an institutions available on the Internet. As a rule, depositing is only possible for researchers affiliated with the institution.
  • A data repository is a digital archive collecting and displaying datasets and their metadata. A lot of data repositories also accept publications, and allow linking these publications to the underlying data. Some examples are Zenodo, DRYAD, Figshare.

Overview of repositories can be found on ROAR, OpenDOAR, Re3data.

Please visit the OpenAIRE helpdesk  if you are having trouble finding the best suited repository for you. If you do not have a repository to deposit your article in then you can use the Zenodo repository, hosted by CERN.

6 - What are the legal issues?

Open Access is not an infringement on copyright and making your work Open Access is perfectly legal.

Authors own the original copyright to papers they write, and publishers need their permission to publish the paper. In author-publisher contracts, publishers often ask for transfer of the copyright, sometimes even when the paper is first submitted to the journal. However, authors can always choose to retain their copyright and provide the publisher with a license to publish.

Even when the author has signed away author’s rights, it is still possible to provide open access through self-archiving the work in a repository. The Sherpa/RoMEO site offers an overview of official publishers’ policies about self-archiving.

If you want to know more about copyright in relation to open access:

If you have other questions related to Intellectual Property Rights

EU IPR Helpdesk Logo may 2013 version
The  European IPR Helpdesk is the official IP service initiative of the European Commission providing free-of-charge, first-line advice and information on Intellectual Property (IP) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).The service is targeted at researchers and European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) participating in EU-funded collaborative research projects. In addition it addresses SMEs involved in international technology transfer processes.

 If you need assistance on a specific IPR issue, or would like to be informed about the latest developments in the world of IP and R&D in Europe, or if you are interested in training on IPR – the European IPR Helpdesk is the right partner to contact.


7 - Which version of my work should I deposit?

Either one of the documents described below should be deposited in an institutional or subject repository upon acceptance for publication:

  • Published version: when the article is made Open Access upon publication, you should deposit this publisher’s final version of the paper, including all modifications from the peer review process, copyediting and stylistic edits, and formatting changes (usually a PDF document) or
  • Final manuscript accepted for publication: final manuscript of a peer-reviewed paper accepted for journal publication, including all modifications from the peer review process, but not yet formatted by the publisher (also referred to as ‘post-print version’).

A postprint is the version of the scientific paper that has received full peer review but has not yet been put in the final published layout. In terms of content, post-prints are the article as published. However, in terms of appearance this might not be the same as the published article, as publishers often reserve for themselves their own arrangement of type-setting and formatting. A lot of publishers allow the postprint version to be put in Open Access.

If unsure whether the version you want to deposit version can be made Open Access, the SHERPA/RoMEO website is a useful tool.

8 - Is an embargo or delay allowed when making my work Open?

Reasonable embargoes of 6 months (STEM) and 12 months (SSH) are allowed if necessary. 

Each beneficiary from an Horizon 2020 grant must deposit the work in a repository as soon as possible and at the latest on publication.
Each beneficiary must ensure Open Access to the deposited publication — via the repository — at the latest:

  • at the moment of publication, if an electronic version is available for free via the publisher (either the published version or the final manuscript)  
  • within six months after publication for STEM publications and twelve months for SSH publications

Related Documents:

Fact Sheet: Open Access in Horizon 2020
Fact Sheet for Project Officers in Horizon 2020
Fact Sheet for Project Coordinators in Horizon 2020
Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020
Multi-beneficiary General Model Grant Agreement


9 - What should I do if the publisher does not allow me to archive my article?

In a small amount of cases, the publisher does not allow any version of the work being made Open Access.  Check Sherpa RoMEO for publishers’ policies on this matter. In the vast majority of cases, publishers allow some form of self-archiving, if necessary after an embargo period.

If the publisher doesn’t allow you to deposit your article in a repository, the EC Open Access policy requires the author to contact the publisher. You are requested to inform the publisher of the EC Open Access requirements, and ask for an exception to the publisher’s normal policy to enable you to meet those requirements. It is important to obtain this permission in writing. A Template letter (.pdf) is available that can be used when writing to the publisher asking for an amendment to your publishing agreement.


Relevant Documents

Template letter (.pdf)



10 - I have already got my material on my website. Do I need a repository?

Yes! Most digital repositories are compliant with technical standards that enable cross-archive searching (Open Archives Initiative’s Protocol for Metadata Harvesting OAI-PMH). Thus, research output placed in a repository is far easier to find than through an individual's website. Several search engines such as Google or Google Scholar favour OAI-repository material, and display these results more prominently. Moreover, repositories are working to preserve materials in the long-term. The benefit is that if a researcher moves on, or their personal website changes, their research output remains in a repository - and the links - will remain stable, readable and accessible. 

11 - Where can I find a suitable repository?

If your institution doesn’t have an institutional repository and if there is no relevant subject repository you can deposit your research output – this can be articles or datasets -  in ZENODO, a repository hosted by CERN and available to all. Some journal archives are also harvested by OpenAIRE, so you might want to consider publishing your research with them.

You can use the OpenAIRE deposit service - check out the list of compatible repositories.

OpenAIRE uses data from the Directory of Open Access Repositories, OpenDOAR, and from the Registry of Research Data Repositories, Re3data. Overview of repositories can be found on ROAR, OpenDOAR, Re3data.

Go to the OpenAIRE helpdesk ”Ask a question” if you are having trouble finding the best suited repository for you. 

12 - What is the Open Data Pilot in Horizon2020?

A novelty in Horizon 2020 is the Open Research Data Pilot which aims to improve and maximize access to and re-use of research data generated by projects. Research data should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”, as stated in the Guidelines for FAIR Data Management in H2020. It will be monitored with a view to developing the European Commission policy on open research data in future Framework Programmes. Opting out – fully or in part – is possible before and during the project, but needs justification.

Starting from 2017 participating in the pilot will be the default option, although the call’s opening date is leading in determining if your project falls under the pilot.

Requirements are to:

  • develop and keep up-to-date a Data Management Plan (DMP).
  • deposit data in a research data repository, along with descriptive metadata (such as the title of the data set, the data authors or creators, and keywords), and the documentation and tools that is needed to understand, validate and reuse the data. Rich discipline-specific metadata and documentation is very valuable, and this can be deposited along with the data (see an example here: https://zenodo.org/record/50409#.WS6YnmiGPIU)
  • make sure third parties can freely access, mine, exploit, reproduce and disseminate it.
  • make clear what tools will be needed to use the raw data to validate research results or provide the tools themselves - (N.B. Tools cover software code, protocols, and anything else that makes the data reusable, or the research findings reproducible).

The pilot applies to

  • the data (and metadata) needed to validate results in scientific publications.
  • other curated and/or raw data (and metadata) that you specify in the DMP.

Please note that costs related to open access to research data in Horizon 2020 are eligible for reimbursement during the duration of the project under the conditions defined in the H2020 Grant Agreement: they must already be budgeted and accepted in the grant proposal, and note the “during the duration of the project”. For budgeting the costs of data management, you can open this webpage for support


our FAQs on DMP and data

You may also want to take a look at our webinars

Related Documents:

13 - What is 'Open Research Data' ?

Research data can be extremely diverse: from spreadsheets, audio-visual materials, databases, to 3D-models and result lists from large experiments. Sizes may vary from a couple of small files related to a specific publication (‘long tail of research data’) to vast collections of experimental results (‘big data’), that can only be processed using specialized programmes. 

The need for adequate documentation and description is obvious, as reproducibility is the key factor when it comes to scientific research. Specialized repositories, such as Zenodo, have been established to collect and preserve datasets of all kinds, and possibly linking them to publications and projects related to the creation of the set. Collecting, describing, licensing and preserving data proves to be a big challenge, and experience with Research Data Management quickly becoming a sought-after asset for researchers and supporting staff.

Open Knowledge Foundation has defined Open Data in ‘The Open Definition’, as "machine-readable, available in bulk, and provided in an open format (i.e., a format with a freely available published specification which places no restrictions, monetary or otherwise, upon its use) or, at the very least, can be processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool."

See also: OpenAIRE Open Research Data Pilot Factsheet.