May 16, 2022

Canadian Government Announces New Open Access Policy for Research

UPDATE: Ontario Council of University Libraries Announces Support for Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

The plan was formally announced on Thursday, February 27, 2015 in Toronto.


Making research results as widely available and accessible as possible is an essential part of advancing knowledge and maximizing the impact of publicly-funded research for Canadians. Increased access to the results of publicly-funded research can spur scientific discovery, enable better international collaboration and coordination of research, enhance the engagement of society and support the economy.[Clip]

The harmonized Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications requires all peer-reviewed journal publications funded by one of the three federal granting agencies to be freely available online within 12 months. Canada’s three federal granting agencies are: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The policy will require NSERC and SSHRC funded researchers to comply with the policy for all grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward. The policy will not change current compliance requirements for CIHR funded researchers since a similar policy with the same requirements has been in effect since 2008.

In developing this policy, the three agencies held an online consultation, receiving feedback from over 200 individuals and groups from the research community, institutional libraries, scholarly associations, non-governmental organizations, publishers, and journals. The granting agencies will continue to work closely with stakeholders to support and facilitate the transition towards greater open access.

Quick Facts

  • Open access is the practice of providing free and unrestricted online access to research publications.
  • CIHR-funded researchers are also required to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results. They must also retain original data sets for a minimum of five years (or longer if other policies apply).
  • In keeping with the global movement towards open access, the harmonized policy requires that researchers receiving grants from CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC make their resulting peer-reviewed journal articles freely available online within 12 months of publication.
  • Researchers can comply with the open access policy in two ways: ‘self-archiving’ by depositing their peer-reviewed manuscript to an online repository that will make the manuscript freely accessible within 12 months of publication; or submitting their manuscript to a journal that offers open access within 12 months of publication.
  • Since 2008, SSHRC has invited applications for financial support from open access journals through its Aid to Scholarly Journals funding opportunity. In the 2014 competition, nearly 65% of applicants had an open-access or delayed open-access business model, up from just over 50% in the previous competition.
  • The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications aligns with the objectives of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government and is a commitment under the updated Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.