Domain-specific recommendations on the Horizon 2020 Open Access Mandate


It is common knowledge for everyone involved in Open Access that there has been a lot of work lately from various initiatives, organizations and individuals, in the form of consultancies, white papers, publications and presentation of updates and outcomes in several Conferences, towards the promotion and further application of open access policies in several cases. One important aspect is that the funders of the research seem to be really concerned about the limited availability of research outcomes that have been based on their funds so they decide, one after the other, to ensure that research outcomes funded by their own grants will be openly and freely available to everyone and not restricted by the policies and agreements imposed by commercial publishers of this work.

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Back in 2013, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced their plans for “expanding public access to the results of federally funded research” according to which, all publications from taxpayer-funded research should be made free to read after a year’s delay — expanding a policy that has, until now, applied only to biomedical science; Nature’s blog post provides more information on this topic. The bill was signed by President Obama on January 17, 2014.


As a next, more practical step, PLOS journals require authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction (with rare exceptions). This not only allows the access to the datasets apart from the publication itself, but it also provides a mean for validating the results of experiments through the research of other researchers who aim to reuse the same datasets and build on them (see also Data Access for the Open Access Literature: PLOS’s Data Policy). Other major funders of research, like the Hewlett Foundation, are also committed to open licensing and now the Foundation requires that grantees receiving project-based grants – those made for a specific purpose – openly license the final materials created with those grants (reports, videos, white papers, and the like) under the most recent Creative Commons Attribution license.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission is also actively supporting open access at various levels; for example, EU-funded projects by the FP7 programme (focusing on the Open Access pilot) had the option to have their costs for covering ‘gold’ Open Access fees (i.e. ‘Open Access publishing’ and ‘author pays’ fees) fully reimbursed. The OpenAIRE project and its infrastructure/guidelines was a core component of this approach.

The Horizon 2020 framework, which will fund a significant number of research projects, also clearly defines the open access policy of the EC. In this direction, each beneficiary of the Horizon 2020 programme must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to its results. In the really useful EC document titled “Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020“, it is clearly stated that “the European Commission’s vision is that information already paid for by the public purse should not be paid for again each time it is accessed or used, and that it should benefit European companies and citizens to the full. This means making publicly-funded scientific information available online, at no extra cost, to European researchers, innovative industries and citizens, while ensuring long-term preservation“.





On top of that, the Horizon 2020 framework defines the Open Research Data Pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects. This will be supported by a funding which corresponds to about €3 billion or 20% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget in 2014 and 2015. In this context, H2020 projects are to set up, describe and implement a Data Management Plan (DPM) that describes in detail all issues around the management of data and metadata that are to be produced or handled during the project, in terms of preservation, interoperability and discoverability. According to the H2020 Work Programme, “A further new element in Horizon 2020 is the use of Data Management Plans (DMPs) detailing what data the project will generate, whether and how it will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved. The use of a Data Management Plan is required for projects participating in the Open Research Data Pilot. Other projects are invited to submit a Data Management Plan if relevant for their planned research.” You can find more information about the Data Management Plans in the Guidelines on Data Management in Horizon 2020 (PDF).

In this direction, the agINFRA FP7 project in collaboration and with the support of the Agricultural Information Management Standards of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation (FAO AIMS) and the CIARD global initiative are creating a set of community standards in the form of recommendations for open data and data management in the H2020 projects and call for new projects in the field of agricultural and food sciences to adopt them. These recommendations will act as good practices, ensuring the reuse of existing standards and infrastructure and provide the necessary framework for related projects and initiatives that wish to implement an open access policy plan. Agro-Know team members are actively involved in this process and contribute their expertise for the completion of this task. These standards are currently under development and are expected to be published within the next weeks through the FAO AIMS portal.


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