Funders Getting more Strict on OA Policies

A growing number of major research funding agencies have open access policies. Those of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. and the Wellcome Trust in the U.K. are perhaps the best known. However, a criticism of many of these policies has always been that they don’t have any “teeth.” This finally seems to be changing.

A recent news article in Nature reports that

“Wellcome Trust says that it has withheld grant payments on 63 occasions in the past year because papers resulting from the funding were not open access. And the NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland, says that it has delayed some continuing grant awards since July 2013 because of non-compliance with open-access policies, although the agency does not know the exact numbers.”

I believe that many researchers support OA in principle but actually getting around to making their publications OA is just another cumbersome task that they simply don’t get around to. The last line of the Nature article quotes a researcher who makes this point:

 “Agreeing with open access is easy — making it happen, less so,” she says.

I actually disagree. Making OA happen is not really that hard. It just needs to be incorporated into the researchers’ usual workflow. Applying for grants and writing up the research is much more difficult. Researchers just need to follow through with that one last step. And now they may not get their next grant if they don’t!