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Open access to health research publications

Ottawa (September 4, 2007) Today, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) unveiled a new policy to promote public access to the results of research it has funded. CIHR will require its researchers to ensure that their original research articles are freely available online within six months of publication.

Timely and unrestricted access to research findings is a defining feature of science, and is essential for advancing knowledge and accelerating our understanding of human health and disease, stated Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. With the development of the internet it is now feasible to disseminate globally and easily the results of research that we fund. As a publicly-funded organization, we have a responsibility to ensure that new advances in health research are available to those who need it and can use it researchers world-wide, the public and policy makers.

In developing its policy, CIHR struck a broadly representative national task force of leading researchers, chaired by Dr. James Till of the Princess Margaret Hospital. CIHR consulted widely with Canadian researchers and stakeholders in government, research, publishing and the library communities. CIHR also looked to the experiences of funding agencies in other countries who have established similar policies. The consultation process was thorough and carefully planned in order to preserve academic freedom while promoting the value of public access.

"This open access policy will serve as a model for other funding agencies," said Dr. James E. Till of the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. "The policy will leverage taxpayers' investment by accelerating research and by fostering its broader application."

Under this new Policy, which will apply to all grants awarded after January 1, 2008 that receive funding in whole or in part from CIHR, grant recipients must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication. This can be achieved by depositing the article in an archive, such as PubMed Central or an institutional repository, and/or by publishing results in an open access journal. A growing number of journals already meet these requirements and CIHR-funded researchers are encouraged to consider publishing in these journals.

Additionally, grant recipients are now required to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results.

This policy builds on other important initiatives to promote openness and transparency of CIHR-funded research such as the registration of clinical trials and randomized controlled trials.


Contact: David Coulombe
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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