NHMRC Open Access Policy

NHMRC’s Policy on the Dissemination of Research Findings

The NHMRC Open Access Policy has been in effect since 1 July 2012.

The following outlines the updated version (20 November 2014).

The Policy is as follows:

The Australian Government makes a major investment in research to support its essential role in improving the wellbeing of our society. To maximise the benefits from research, publications resulting from research activities must be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community. NHMRC acknowledges that researchers take into account a wide range of factors in deciding on the best outlets for publications arising from their research.

Such considerations include the status and reputation of a journal, book, publisher or conference, the peer review process of evaluating their research outputs, access by other stakeholders to their work, the likely impact of their work on users of research and the further dissemination and production of knowledge.

Taking heed of these considerations, NHMRC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research supported by NHMRC funding, in the most effective manner and at the earliest opportunity.

NHMRC therefore requires that any publication arising from NHMRC supported research must be deposited into an open access institutional repository and/or made available in another open access format within a twelve month period from the date of publication.

NHMRC understands that some researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements initially because of current legal or contractual obligations.

Additional Guidance

Who is responsible for implementing the policy?

The NHMRC Funding Agreement outlines the responsibilities of Administering Institutions with regard to publications and data resulting from NHMRC-supported research activities.

Researchers are required to conduct their research and disseminate their research findings in accordance with the Funding Agreement, and by reference, the NHMRC Open Access Policy. This may be managed via the institutional research administration office.

The Chief Investigator A (CIA) on the NHMRC grant is therefore responsible for ensuring that the NHMRC Open Access Policy is complied with. This is independent of CIA’s authorship role (first, last, middle, or non-author) on a given published peer-reviewed article (hereafter referred to as ‘publication’). This includes:

  • provision of the publication metadata (and if relevant, a URL/doi to an open access format) and relevant NHMRC Grant ID to the institutional repository; and
  • provision of an appropriate copy of the publication to the institutional repository (IR), if an open access version is not already available elsewhere (e.g. PubMed Central, publisher website).

What published outputs are covered by the policy?

  • The revised policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal publications arising from all NHMRC grants, with the exception of scholarships.
  • The policy applies to all peer reviewed journal publications published after the 1st of July 2012, regardless of the start date of the relevant grant.
  • NHMRC’s Research Grants Management System (RGMS) has been modified so that when CIAs update their publication records, they can now link it to the relevant grant ID, and indicate whether the metadata of the publication has been deposited into an institutional repository. CIAs can also indicate whether the publication is freely available via an open access repository. CIs are encouraged to do this for all publications, not just those published since July 2012.

What published outputs are NOT covered by the policy?

The revised policy does not apply to other published outcomes of the funded research such as books, book chapters, theses, and technical reports.

If my publication is already freely available through the publisher or another repository (e.g. PubMed Central), will I need to deposit a copy in my institutional repository?

No. However, you must deposit the publication metadata and affiliated NHMRC Grant ID in your institutional repository.

What if I am unable to make the article available within 12 months, due to legal obligations?

NHMRC understands that in some instances researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements because of legal or contractual obligations. CIAs should make this clear to NHMRC when reporting on their grants. NHMRC does not require that your publication be made available via a journal's proprietary or paid 'Open Access' program.

What manuscript versions are acceptable under the policy?

Both the author’s version of the article (as accepted by the journal after peer-review, with revisions having been made) and the publisher’s version (e.g. journal version with final pagination and formatting) are acceptable under this policy.

Journals may have different policies regarding which version of a manuscript or article can be made available, and the timing of this availability. The CIA should work with their institutional repository manager, library staff or research office to determine the options available to them that allow compliance with the policy. A comprehensive list of open access repositories at Australian institutions is available via the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) website.

How does NHMRC’s policy compare with the Australian Research Council’s new policy?

NHMRC and ARC’s policies are substantially comparable. The ARC policy came into effect in January 2013, and applies to grants received in 2013 (commencing 2014), with the first publications not expected to be made available through institutional repositories or in another open access format until after January 2014. The NHMRC policy was implemented in July 2012 with publications being made available through the relevant institutional repositories or another open access format from July 2013. The ARC policy is available on the ARC website.

The AOASG has published a comparison of the two agencies policies on the AOASG website.

Does the University grants management system meet the criteria for an institutional repository?

The key requirement of an institutional repository is that it be publicly and freely available, and include the metadata and/or the pre-print, post-print or the journal version of the article. Your system administrator may be able to advise on whether your grants management system meets this requirement.

Is compliance with the NHMRC Open Access Policy a condition of the NHMRC grant?

Yes, all recipients of NHMRC grants must comply with the NHMRC Open Access Policy, as outlined in Section A of NHMRC Funding Rules.

If an article is not able to be made available through an IR or in another open access format, will it affect the applicant’s peer review score?

No. The inability of applicants to make their publication available through an IR or in another open access format will not affect their scores during the peer review process. If you are unable to fulfil this requirement, you should provide a reason (e.g. legal/contractual limitations) in RGMS.

If an article is not able to be made available through an institutional repository or in another open access format, will it affect the applicant’s eligibility?

No. If you are unable to fulfil this requirement, you should provide a reason (e.g. legal/contractual limitations) in RGMS.

If the field on ‘Related NHMRC Grants’ affiliated to a publication is not provided, will the applicant’s eligibility be affected?

No. However, NHMRC encourages all researchers to link relevant publications with NHMRC Grant IDs to assist in reporting and peer-review in the future.

Can Article Processing Charges be paid from Direct Research Costs?

Yes, under the Principles-based NHMRC Direct Research Costs Guidelines, “NHMRC funds can only be used for reasonable publication costs where the publication has occurred as the result of the approved Research Activity”. The guideline can be accessed in the

Who is responsible for ensuring that a copy of the publication is made open access (and in which repository), if the CIA is not an author on the paper?

The CIA must ensure that NHMRC’s Open Access Policy is complied with. However, the publication need only be deposited in one open access repository and/or made available in another open access format, and need not necessarily be in the institutional repository of the CIA’s institution. This is to ensure that access to the publication is made available through at least one avenue.

Guide for Authors

Where the research described in the publication is funded (entirely or in part) by NHMRC:

  1. The author(s) decides which journal they wish to submit their paper to. Note that:
    • NHMRC’s Policy does not require authors to take a particular route to publication (Green or Gold). It is the author’s choice as to which particular journal they think best suits their article. Compliance does not require publications to be available via a Journal's proprietary or paid 'Open Access' program.
  2. The CIA should contact their institutional repository manager, library or research office to obtain instructions on how to deposit the publication and/or the publication metadata in the institutional repository, as institutional practices may vary from one institution to the next. If the administering institution does not have an institutional repository, then:
    • One of the other CIs can lodge in their institution’s repository; or
    • Administering institutions that don’t have an IR may be able to negotiate with an affiliated university for access on behalf of their researchers.
  3. The timing of submission should be as advised by the institutional repository manager or library. The institutional repository manager will ensure that the appropriate version of the publication will be made available via the institutional repository at the first available date.
    • Note that the publication date is the official date of publication, not the date that the article first appears online (e.g. e-pub ahead of print).
    • The institutional repository should make the publication metadata immediately available to the public upon publication.
    • The institutional repository should make the publication and the relevant metadata available to the public within 12 months of this official date of publication where legally possible.
  4. Once the submitted paper is accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal, the CIA of the grant is required to comply with the following:
    • If the publication is freely available to the public via the journal website, only the metadata and the link to the publication need to be provided to the institutional repository, and both must be made immediately available in the institutional repository.
    • If the journal allows the author to make the accepted version of the publication available in an institutional repository within 12 months, the metadata and accepted version can be submitted to the IR, with the publication metadata being made immediately available and the publication itself being made available as soon as the embargo permits.
    • If the researcher has made the work available in a subject repository (e.g. PubMed Central), the author can make the metadata available through the institutional repository with a link to the open access version in the subject repository.
    • If the journal does NOT allow any version of the publication to be made available in an institutional repository, the publication metadata should be submitted to the institutional repository, and the CIA should provide a reason in RGMS for non-compliance with the NHMRC dissemination policy.
  5. The CIA should ensure that their RGMS CV/profile publication data has been updated to reflect the following publication details:
    • the basic publication metadata - author/s, title, journal name, date etc; submitted via the normal process of adding publications to a CV.
    • the grant ID of the relevant NHMRC grant(s) that contributed to the research described in the publication should be appended to the publication data.
    • if the publication is available to the public via the institutional repository or another open access format, the checkbox indicating this should be completed.
  6. The National Library of Australia currently harvests metadata from most IRs into its central TROVE database that is freely accessible.

Further background information

Further background on the development of this revised policy can be found at: