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Open Access for Research Impact: OA Requirements in Horizon 2020

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Open Access to Publications: H2020 Requirements UCD Infographic

Information sheet brought to you from UCD Library and UCD Research:

Open Access Requirements in Horizon 2020 (3:56)

EC Policy v. Publishers' Policies: Copyright and Embargo Issues

The EC encourages authors to retain their copyright and grant adequate licences to publishers. Their OpenAIRE website has a copyright page that outlines various issues and scenarios in relation to author rights and publisher permissions. For example:

Your article has been accepted for publication by the journal, and the publisher asks you to sign a publishing or copyright transfer agreement (CTA). Your have a number of options to ensure that you can fulfill the EC requirements to make your article or final, peer-reviewed manuscript available in open access within the specified timeframe (6-12 months depending on research area). These include:

  • not signing but providing a licence to publish
  • signing and providing an addendum to ensure you can fulfill the EC requirements.
See this in action in this correspondence between an author and publisher requesting an addendum to the copyright transfer agreement, which would allow upload of the article to a green open-access repository (in this case, Zenodo); this example also highlights the negotiations around reducing the publisher's embargo period to one acceptable to the EC -

Open Access Requirements in Horizon 2020

ARTICLE 29 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement deals with:

  • Dissemination of Results 
  • Open Access 
  • Visibility of EU Funding

Horizon 2020 mandates open access to all scientific publications and, from  January 2017, to all research data, with the possibility to opt out from this “Open Research Data” pilot.

The European Commission believes this offers better value for money, encourages collaboration across disciplines, is in the public interest and is essential for solving today’s complex societal challenges.


An electronic copy of the publication must be deposited in a suitable green open access repository. The version of the paper will generally be the author's "post-print" or author's final version of the article after the refereeing process has taken place. This does not preclude ALSO publishing in a traditional subscription journal. This is the Green/Traditional publishing route.

The green open access repository can be a disciplinary repository (e.g. PubMed Central or arXiv) or an institutional repository such as UCD’s: Research Repository UCD. A centralised repository such as Zenodo can also be used.

The gold open access route may also be used. Generally an author will be required to pay an article processing charge (APC) to the gold open access journal. If the gold open access route is chosen, a copy must also be self-archived in a repository (e.g. Research Repository UCD).

The rationale for depositing in a green open access repository is that this form of deposit will ensure long-term preservation of the article. Venue such as Research Gate or do not count as repositories. Nor do publisher websites, personal, or project-specific webpages or Dropbox.

Open access should be provided as soon as possible and in any case no later than six months after the official publication date (or 12 months in the Social Sciences and Humanities).


The Commission's approach is ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’ and the open access requirement only applies to research data related to scientific publications. They define research data to include statistics, results of experiments, measurements, observations resulting from fieldwork, survey results, interview recordings and images.

Data management costs are fully eligible for funding under Article 6 and Article 6.2.D.3 of the H2020 Grant Agreement or under other Articles relevant for the cost category chosen.

Beneficiaries of ERC grants can opt out of sharing research data without having to give a reason.

The European Commission has produced useful fact sheets / FAQs on:


A number of useful other resources are also available:

What is Required

states that:

"Beneficiaries must ensure open, free-of-charge access to the end-user to peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to their results." (p. 217)

Peer-reviewed publications are those assessed by other scholars. Peer review is typically, though not exclusively, organised by the journal or publisher to which an article or manuscript is submitted.

The dominant type of publication is the journal article, post peer-review (i.e. not pre-prints). There is strong encouragement to include other types of publications e.g. books, conference papers, grey literature (including working papers, reports, i.e. informally published material not controlled by scientific publishers) etc.

Social media communications are not regarded as publications.

Researchers can choose the type of online, open access repository to upload to, e.g. institutional, subject-based or centralised. In the case of UCD researchers this would normally be UCD's institutional repository: 

The important point is that: "Beneficiaries should not choose a repository with rules which could conflict with open access". That would include, for example, publisher websites.

Open access can be done by:

a) Green Open Access (also called "self-archiving")

  • e.g. by depositing a postprint in Research Repository UCD
  • within 6 months of publication in STEM; 12 months in the Social Sciences and Humanities

b) Gold Open Access (also called "open access publishing")

  • this route usually requires an Article Processing Charge (APC) which potentially can be paid for from the grant. Currently an action for dealing with such costs incurred after the end of FP7 is being piloted and something similar for Horizon 2020 will considered based on the FP7 outcome.

NB: If the gold open access route is chosen, a copy must also be self-archived in a repository (e.g. Research Repository UCD).

The EU is very clear on this, the rationale being that green open access deposit will ensure long-term preservation of the article.

Click on the link below for more details on the Gold and Green routes:

The Steps to Take

Once you have decided which open access route/s to take (Gold and Green; or Green only - which will link to a traditional published version of your article), ensure that you include the following bibliographic metadata that helps to identify the publication; this is needed for visibility, traceability and monitoring:

  • the terms ‘European Union (EU)’ and ‘Horizon 2020’ or ‘Euratom’ and 'Euratom Research and Training Programme 2014-18’ (depending on the grant); for example:
    • "The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme under grant agreement n° xxxxxx.” 
    • “Part of this project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No xxxxxx”
  • the name of the action, acronym and grant number
  • the publication date, and length of embargo period if applicable and
  • a ‘persistent identifier’ (e.g. a stable digital object identifier which identifies the publication and links to an authoritative version)

The Library will then add the above details to the Research Repository UCD's record and will add the following:

  • the publication date, length of embargo period (this applies in the case of Green Open Access)
  • a persistent identifier such as a DOI


From January 2017 Horizon 2020's requirement of open access to all scientific publications will be extended to research data.

Please see our guide below:

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