20 September 2022

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is the first Australian funding agency to introduce the requirement that scholarly publications arising from the research it funds be made freely available and accessible.

Under NHMRC’s revised Open Access Policy, all peer-reviewed publications arising from NHMRC-funded research must be made available immediately upon publication, removing the 12-month embargo period. They must also be published with the use of an open licence, which means publications can be used and shared widely.

These requirements apply to all new grants awarded under NHMRC Grant Opportunity Guidelines issued from 20 September 2022, and will be phased in for all other NHMRC grants, with full implementation by 1 January 2024.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO said that making publicly-funded research available as soon as possible supports knowledge sharing and rapid innovation. It also advances human health in Australia and globally, as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

'NHMRC supports open access because it helps to ensure the highest impact of the research we fund,' Professor Kelso said.

NHMRC’s revised policy is in line with the growing international shift towards open access publishing, including the recent announcement by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that all United States (US) funding agencies are required to adopt open access publishing policies without embargos by 31 December 2025.

Unlike other open access policies internationally, NHMRC’s revised Open Access Policy requires consideration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual and cultural rights. A more restrictive licence is allowed as appropriate for publications about research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

The revisions to NHMRC’s Open Access Policy are based on extensive consultation with the Australian research sector and advice from NHMRC’s expert committees. 

Other international funding bodies that have announced or adopted immediate open access publishing policies include the UK Research and Innovation, UK National Institute for Health and Care Research, the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As part of its commitment to open access, NHMRC has also joined cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders that support open access, where all research results are made openly available to the scientific community. 

Read more in NHMRC’s Open Access Policy.