How to comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

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What is the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications?

As of February 27, 2015, SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR have a harmonized "Open Access Policy on Publications" that requires research publications from their grants to be made openly available.

What are the chief requirements of the policy?

The policy requires that "any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication." It applies to NSERC and SSHRC grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward, and continues the pre-existing open access requirement for CIHR grants awarded January 1, 2008 and later.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure the policy is followed.

How can I make my publications open access?

The policy allows two routes to fulfilling its requirements:

  1.  Deposit a version of your article in an open access repository, either one specialized for your discipline or one run by your institution. To take advantage of this option, you as the researcher must ensure that the author agreement you sign with the publisher of the article allows you to make this deposit. The version you deposit, according to the Tri-Agency FAQ, must be "the final full-text peer-reviewed manuscript (the post-print) or the published version where allowable. The final full-text peer-reviewed manuscript must include all tables, figures, images and appendices."
  2. Publish in an open access journal. For journals that use Article Processing Charges (APCs) as a means to fund open access, these APCs are allowable expenses for Tri-Agency grants.

The Tri-Agencies note that these two options are not mutually exclusive. Their FAQ states that "Researchers are strongly encouraged to deposit a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an accessible online repository immediately upon publication, even if the article is freely available through the journal’s website."

Please note that making a version of your article available on your own website does not meet the conditions of the policy. The Tri-Agency FAQ states: "Although making articles available on a personal website is permissible, the Agencies require that a copy also be made available through an online repository or journal within 12 months to reach a broad audience more effectively and to ensure long-term accessibility."

Further advice on both of these options, including how to locate appropriate repositories and open access journals, and how to negotiate your rights with publishers, are available from the McGill Library at How to make your research open access.

Where can I get more information?

The Tri-Agencies offer both an FAQ and an online Toolbox, both with information and resources to help you comply with the policy.

The McGill Library offers a variety of services to support your efforts to make your work open access.

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