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Public access mandates for funded research


What is a public access mandate?

OA within a specified time after publication. Public access mandates are most often a requirement by a funding agency that published research results enabled by its grants be made available to the general public, usually on the internet. A public access mandate is often issued by US federal funding agencies, although some private funders also have them. This FAQ addresses federal funders, but much of the information in it is applicable to private funders as well.

Public access to what?

Public access mandates generally apply to journal articles whose publication is a direct result of research performed under the grant as well as to research data generated during, or as a result of, the research process (there are exceptions and limitations though).

Aren’t these policies “unfunded mandates”?

Public access mandates are requirements for funding, not “unfunded mandates.” To receive grant funding you must comply with many other stipulations; these policies merely add new requirements. Some of the costs incurred by these changes can be included into the research budget but there are often ways to fulfil public access at low, or no additional, cost.

What are the consequences for inaction or non-compliance?

The granting agencies will be unlikely to grant you additional funds, extensions, or new grants. In short: you won’t get any more grant money.

How do I comply?

Compliance varies depending on the agency, see the Federal Mandates Summary for a specific agency’s requirements.

Who at my campus can help me interpret these policies?

Most likely your Office of Research or departmental research office has grant analysts or compliance officers who can help with the details of compliance. Additionally, the Cline Library can advise you on the practicalities of compliance with a federal public access policy and can advise on such issues as choosing an appropriate repository where one is not prescribed, or developing a data management plan to effectively describe and preserve your data set. Finally, the campus IT service is a potential partner to help you understand your storage needs and the practicalities of sharing data.

When do I have to start complying with these policies?

Check the agency policy. Even if you do not have to comply now, it is likely you will have to in the very near future. Data compliance, like many things, is easier when it is planned from as early as possible. It is prudent to familiarize yourself with these policies.

When do these policies go into effect?

Each agency has a timeline for implementation of their policy. For example, the agencies under Health and Human Services are expected to begin implementation by Oct, 2015 while the NSF is looking at January 2016. Consult the mandate summary page for more information.

Do the policies apply retroactively to publications/data?

No. Public Access policies will take effect at various times in the next year or two, depending on the agency. Check the policy for the agency you are applying to. However, if you currently have a grant with an agency that is transitioning to new public access policies it would be wise to plan ahead and read over the provisions in any research or publishing contracts before you you sign. You should also consider indicating that you will deposit your work (publications and/or data) in an institutional or subject repository.‚Äč

Do I need to deposit my publications and data into a repository, or will the publisher handle that for me?

This depends on the publisher—please check your publication contract. If you have questions, your library can likely help you resolve them. If your publisher does not already have a deposit process in place, your library can likely help you deposit the materials in an appropriate repository. The ultimate responsibility for deposit is yours.

This FAQ is based on: “Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Public Access Policies for Data and Publications” (