Gates Foundation Will Require All Its Research To Be Freely Accessible

Illustration for article titled Gates Foundation Will Require All Its Research To Be Freely Accessible

Do you believe that scientists should make their research open, so that anyone can read and learn from it? Then this news will make your day.


The Open-Access Movement just gained a very powerful ally. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday announced the details of its open access policy – and it looks impressive. The policy will require any researchers it funds, "in whole or in part," to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals that are immediately free-to-access.

The policy will ensure that all peer-reviewed research funded by the Gates Foundation will be accessible – by the public, by other researchers, by anyone – the moment its findings are published. For free. The policy stipulates that published research be made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic License, meaning it can be copied, redistributed, added to, even commercialized, by anyone. According to UC Berkeley Biologist Michael Eisen – a leading proponent of open science, and co-founder of the nonprofit open access scientific publishing project PLOS – the Gates Foundation's policy "gets [open access] policy right," and serves as a "model for funders, [governments] and universities."

The policy won't come into effect until Januray 2017 (grantees, in the meantime, are permitted to publish in subscription-based journals, provided their findings, data, etc. are made freely available within 12 months of publication), but the foundation's newly proposed stance is already making waves. Nature has called it "the world's strongest policy in support of open research and open data," noting that the policy, if strictly enforced, "would prevent Gates-funded researchers from publishing in well-known journals such as Nature and Science."

Featured below is the Gates Foundation's OA policy, in its entirety:


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to information sharing and transparency. We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated. We have adopted an Open Access policy that enables the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.

As of January 1, 2015 our Open Access policy will be effective for all new agreements. During a two-year transition period, publishers will be permitted to apply up to a 12 month embargo period on the accessibility of the publication and its underlying data sets. This embargo period will no longer be allowed after January 1, 2017.

Our Open Access policy contains the following elements:

  • Publications Are Discoverable and Accessible Online. Publications will be deposited in a specified repository(s) with proper tagging of metadata.
  • Publication Will Be On "Open Access" Terms. All publications shall be published under theCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic License (CC BY 4.0) or an equivalent license. This will permit all users of the publication to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and transform and build upon the material, including for any purpose (including commercial) without further permission or fees being required.
  • Foundation Will Pay Necessary Fees. The foundation would pay reasonable fees required by a publisher to effect publication on these terms.
  • Publications Will Be Accessible and Open Immediately. All publications shall be available immediately upon their publication, without any embargo period. An embargo period is the period during which the publisher will require a subscription or the payment of a fee to gain access to the publication. We are, however, providing a transition period of up to two years from the effective date of the policy (or until January 1, 2017). During the transition period, the foundation will allow publications in journals that provide up to a 12-month embargo period.
  • Data Underlying Published Research Results Will Be Accessible and Open Immediately. The foundation will require that data underlying the published research results be immediately accessible and open. This too is subject to the transition period and a 12-month embargo may be applied.

[Gates Foundation]


Will Holz

Do you believe that scientists should make their research open, so that anyone can read and learn from it? Then this news will make your day.

I do and it did. Thank you, sir!

It fills me with no small amount of rage that we have a system that exists that motivates people to hide amazing and useful scientific information behind paywalls when that is the information that's supposed to be there for every child in the world.