Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ireland's Health Research Board adopts an OA policy

Ireland's Health Research Board has issued a Position Statement in Support of Open and Unrestricted Access to Published Research (Open Access).  (Thanks to Robin Adams via David Prosser.)  The HTML edition, above, is undated, but the PDF edition includes the date, January 25, 2008.  Excerpt:


The Health Research Board (HRB) funds a wide range of health-related research in approved host institutions, with the aim of improving human health. The main output of this research is new ideas and knowledge, which the HRB expects its researchers, both clinical and nonclinical, to publish in quality, peer reviewed journals. The HRB has a fundamental interest in ensuring that the availability and accessibility of this material is not adversely affected by the copyright, marketing and distribution strategies used by publishers (whether commercial, not for profit or academic).

Position Statement

The HRB supports the principle that ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research should be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable....With advances in internet publishing, the HRB seeks to encourage initiatives that broaden the range of opportunities for quality research to be widely disseminated and freely accessible.


  1. The HRB strongly encourages authors of research papers to maximize the opportunities to make their results freely available, and where possible, to ensure that copyright is retained by their employer or institution.
  2. The HRB requests the deposition, in PubMed Central (PMC) or other recognised Open-Access repository, of electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and are supported in whole or part by HRB funding.
  3. If author/institution-ownership of copyright is not permitted by the publisher, the HRB would encourage authors to publish in journals that permit the deposition of published papers in PubMed Central (PMC) or other recognised Open-Access repository.
  4. The HRB strongly encourages authors to make freely available those papers as soon as possible after the journal’s official date of publication, taking into account any embargo period imposed by the publisher.
  5. This position statement applies to peer-reviewed, original research publications that have been supported, in whole or part, by the HRB. This position statement does not apply to book chapters, editorials, book reviews or conference proceedings.

General guidance relating to this position statement can be found in the HRB Guidelines for Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from HRB-funded Research (Open Access). Please refer these guidelines for more information on how to be Open Access compliant and for links to the current policies of major publishing houses and journals.

This position statement owes much to the Wellcome Trust Position Statement in support of Open Access and the Medical Research Council Policy on Open Access.

Comment.  The HRB policy puts institutional repositories on a par with PMC, and it asks authors who cannot persuade a publisher to let them comply with the HRB policy to find another publisher.  That's good.  But there's no blinking away the fact that HRB is merely encouraging OA archiving, despite the fact that the NIH has documented the failure of mere encouragement and the HRB's own models (Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council) go beyond mere encouragement to explicit mandates.  I hope the HRB can strengthen the policy and make it mandatory at the first policy review.  If it wants to respect publisher embargoes (#4 above), then it can require "dark" deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, release OA metadata immediately, and release OA full-text only after the embargo has run --what I call the dual deposit/release strategy and Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access.