Research based on Gates Foundation Funds Must be Published in Journals Complying with Open Access Policy

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Following a policy that became effective on January 1, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now requires all its grant recipients to make their published, peer-reviewed work immediately available to the public. Although the foundation rolled out the new policy in 2015, it allowed for a two-year transition period.

Publication Will Be On “Open Access” Terms.  All publications shall be published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic License (CC BY 4.0) or an equivalent license. This will permit all users of the publication to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and transform and build upon the material, including for any purpose (including commercial) without further permission or fees being required.

The move by a number of funding agencies and foundations to require open access is not new. Institutes such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have had this type of policy in place for a number of years. The NIH requires grant recipients to submit their research to the digital repository PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication. The Ford Foundation adopted a similar policy in February 2015.

The Gates Foundation policy also addresses the issue of ’embargo period’ or an extended period of exclusivity to publishers, specifying that the policy requires immediate open access.

Publications Will Be Accessible and Open Immediately. All publications shall be available immediately upon their publication, without any embargo period. An embargo period is the period during which the publisher will require a subscription or the payment of a fee to gain access to the publication.

Data Underlying Published Research Results Will Be Accessible and Open Immediately. The foundation will require that data underlying the published research results be immediately accessible and open.

Publications Are Discoverable and Accessible Online.  Publications will be deposited in a specified repository(s) with proper tagging of metadata.

This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 311 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: