Frequently Asked Questions

For questions about specific funding agency requirements, please see the “Additional resources” sections in each of the funder pages on this site or contact publicaccesshelp@rice.edu

In 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo entitled “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” The memo directs federal agencies with over $100 million in annual extramural R&D budgets to develop plans to make the publications resulting from federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication, as well as to make the data resulting from federally-funded research publicly accessible.

What is a public access policy [mandate]?

A public access policy (sometimes called a mandate) is a formal policy adopted by a funding agency that requires funding agencies to make the products of  research (publications and data) accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

How do I comply?

Each agency is different (please see the funder pages of this site to learn more about specific requirements). Federal funding agencies started rolling out their implementation plans in 2014. As of February 2016, sixteen agencies (including NSF, DOE, and DOD) have released initial plans for sharing publications and data. No two plans are the same. However, there are several similarities across agencies. All agencies are either adopting existing repositories (such as the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central) or building new repositories (such as the Department of Energy’s Pages) to house publications. In addition, all agencies now require data management plans for all newly funded projects and provide guidance for making the data underlying publications publicly available.

When do these policies go into effect?

The implementation timeline for agencies varies; while the Department of Energy began its implementation process in October of 2014, NSF’s requirement will take effect after January 2016.

What do I do if my research is funded by multiple agencies?

You probably need to address the requirements of each funding source separately. The library can help you sort through multiple requirements. Contact publicaccesshelp@rice.edu

Do the policies apply retroactively to publications/data?

Generally, no (NOAA may require compliance for previous publications). These policies only apply to new/renewed awards and contracts. Please consult the agency’s plan or contact publicaccesshelp@rice.edu to determine what work falls under the policy.

I publish in open access journals. Do I still need to do anything?

Yes. Publishing in an open access journal, or publishing an open access paper in a hybrid journal, is probably not sufficient (or required) to meet the requirements for your funding agency. Your funder may require deposit of a copy of the publication or the publication’s metadata to a specific repository.  Check your award agreement, or the agency’s public access page(s) and documentation for additional information. The library can also help you determine requirements; email publicaccesshelp@rice.edu.

Will journals automatically deposit my paper for other agencies, like they do for the NIH?

Not necessarily. Check the journal’s instructions to authors for information on what role they play in compliance. The library can also help to determine journal activities and track publications; email publicaccesshelp@rice.edu.

NIH grantees: Please note that, even when a journal automatically deposits your paper, the submitting author will need to approve the submission in NIHMS (they will receive an email). If this action is not taken, a PMCID will not be generated.

Do I need to deposit my publications and data into a repository, or will the publisher handle that for me upon acceptance?

In response to the NIH public access policy, many publishers developed workflows to facilitate automatic submission of manuscripts to PubMed Central. As additional funder policies go into effect, it is expected that publishers will develop similar workflows for additional repositories. However, the PI will be responsible to ensuring that all publications and underlying data are made publicly available; failure to do so may result in delayed funding.  Researchers are encouraged to be proactive in ensuring publications and data are deposited and accessible. The library can help; contact publicaccesshelp@rice.edu.

What are the consequences for inaction or non-compliance?

In most cases, compliance with public access policies–for both research data and publications–will determine funding. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently begun enforcement of their public access policy, which has been a requirement since 2008, by withholding funding for those who haven’t complied.