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CIHR unveils policy giving open access to health research publications


Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has announced a new policy to promote public access to the results of research it has funded. The organization will require its researchers to ensure that their original research articles are freely available online within six months of publication.

“Timely and unrestricted access to research findings is a defining feature of science, and is essential for advancing knowledge and accelerating our understanding of human health and disease,” says Dr Alan Bernstein, CIHR president. “With the development of the internet it is now feasible to disseminate globally and easily the results of research that we fund. As a publicly-funded organization, we have a responsibility to ensure that new advances in health research are available to those who need it and can use it – researchers world-wide, the public and policy makers.”

In developing its policy, CIHR says it struck a broadly representative national task force of leading researchers, chaired by Dr James Till of Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. The task force consulted widely with Canadian researchers and stakeholders in government, research, publishing and the library communities. It also looked to the experiences of funding agencies in other countries who have established similar policies. The consultation process was carefully planned in order to preserve academic freedom while promoting the value of public access.

“This open access policy will serve as a model for other funding agencies,” says Dr Till. “The policy will leverage taxpayers’ investment by accelerating research and by fostering its broader application.”

Under the new policy, which will apply to all grants awarded after January 1, 2008 that receive funding in whole or in part from CIHR, grant recipients must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication. This can be achieved by depositing the article in an archive, such as PubMed Central or an institutional repository, and/or by publishing results in an open access journal. A growing number of journals already meet these requirements and CIHR-funded researchers are encouraged to consider publishing in these journals.

Additionally, grant recipients are now required to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results.