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Open access is now a legally mandated requirement for all funded Horizon Europe projects, so it is of great importance to direct attention to this topic. While there exists ample content which seeks to properly explain the concept of Open Access in Horizon Europe, successfully reviewing all of it does require a lot of time and effort. For a more accessible starting point, Enspire Science has reviewed the available information and composed the following article which summarizes Open Access in Horizon Europe. So – if you are in the process of applying for Horizon Europe funding, or have already been funded, whether you are coming from academia, the private sector, or any other sector, this article is a great place to start.


What’s unique about the concept of Open Access?

In general, Open Access introduces an innovative approach to disseminating information to the wider audience. Traditional avenues call for researchers to submit scientific articles in repositories and magazines. In such cases, readers are required to pay for access to this content. The major novelty with Open Access is the fact that the payment for access has been shifted from the reader to the authors. Granted – this seems like a small change. But, a closer look unravels the concept that the wider audience will have more free avenues through which to access highly important information. This undoubtedly means more will access and benefit from such information.


Types of Open Access publishing

There are a number of variants of open access (OA) publishing and different publishers may use one or more of these variants. These variants are typically referred to using a color system. The most common ones are the Gold OA and Green OA, and our discussion here will focus on these. Other variants, which are less popular, hence less relevant, are the Hybrid OA, Bronze OA, Platinum OA and Black OA.


Why Open Access in Horizon Europe in the first place?

Horizon Europe aims to fund groundbreaking research with the potential to substantially impact our world. A major focus, then, lies in ensuring research results and important discoveries extend past scientific communities to additional avenues that can build off of the information, and take advantage of it for more impactful applications. Therefore, mandating open access to all Horizon Europe research projects means the above will be achieved. The practice of enabling Open Access to scientific data and research enables to truly accelerate research and substantially improve the impact it can have on our world. This is true for all scientific endeavors, and specifically to Horizon Europe research projects.


What encompasses the Open Access in Horizon Europe requirement?

The main requirement essentially calls for researchers to provide free-of-charge scientific information (unless it is protected (e.g. patenting)) in the form of peer-reviewed scientific publications (Article 29.2 of the Model Grant Agreement) and Research data (Article 29.3), and to ensure continuous online access to it. Below is a short summary of what you have to know about the implementation of these instructions in Horizon Europe projects. The full instructions are available in the official Horizon Europe Open Access document, and it is our recommendation to abide to these.


Peer-reviewed scientific publications 

This type of information usually refers to articles and final manuscripts that were assessed by other scholars, typically organized by the journal or the publisher.


These are subjected to Open Access following two steps:

  1. Step one: Deposition in Institutional, subject-based or centralized repositories.
    (When choosing a repository, consider the following listings as possible options, such as: ROAR, openDOAR, ROARMAP, etc.).
  2. Step two: Ensuring Open Access to the publications through one of the available options:  – “Green” or “Gold”. Choosing the right option for you largely depends on your overall dissemination, communication, & exploitation strategy, and availability of resources.


Green OA →  an avenue referring to self-archiving, depending on an embargo period (if any). This option generally consists of providing access to scientific data through one of the following: the Horizon Europe research project’s direct website, the author’s website, the host institution’s website or an independent central open repository.


Gold OA → refers to paid archiving and the process of depositing scientific publications on websites and platforms that are not your own. Here the Open Access is immediate upon publication. Since the main premise of Open Access is that it is free, the payment is therefore handled by the author and not the reader. Within the execution phase of any Horizon Europe project, the associated costs of such publications are eligible for reimbursement as part of the Horizon Europe grant. 


Choosing the right option for you largely depends on your overall dissemination, communication, & exploitation strategy.


The difference between the two types of Open Access uncovers several pros and cons for choosing one type over the other:

  1. Namely, self-archiving can potentially require a lot more resources and management on the author’s end. But, if you already have a website for your Horizon Europe project (and you certainly should), this then seems like a logical step to take. Since a project website can receive less exposure and traffic than a professional publisher, it is important to have a strategic marketing strategy for the website to ensure the scientific data and information extends and reaches its target audience.
  2. That being said, depositing information in dedicated professional publishing platforms can help ensure the information is better circulated and reaches a wider audience. Clearly, this option requires setting aside budget for these types of activities, and forming your information to the style and expectations of such platforms.


From experience, it is advised to find a nice balance of the two, and incorporate both self-archiving and external platforms in this Open Access strategy as fits best within your particular goals and research results.


While scientific articles are the most widely accepted forms of sharing research results, there is a strong urge to also provide Open Access in Horizon Europe to other forms of scientific publications such as books, conference proceedings, and more.


Research data

This type of information includes all kinds of data (e.g. numerical and visual) that were collected during research to be further examined. Dissemination of these data complies with the Open Research Data Pilot and currently is included by default in the grant agreement. However, considering that not all data can be shared, the commission follows the “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” approach, thus allowing opting out either prior signing or retroactively upon legitimate reasons. Among these is potential commercial implementation of the data, security issues and protection of personal data considerations.


On that note, “Co-fund” and “Prizes” instruments, “ERA-Nets” and “ERC proof of concept” are not included in the pilot due to incompatibility in terms of research data sharing.


Similar to scientific publications, Open Access to research data is satisfied through two steps:

  1. Step one: Deposition in designated research data online archives. (When choosing an archive, you may refer to the following listings of optional repositories: Registry of Research Data Repositories and Databib)
  2. Step two: Promoting availability and free of charge usage of the data first by granting copyright permissions. Among the available tools to attach an appropriate license is Creative Commons Licenses. And then, enable access to this data via your Horizon Europe project’s website or any other website that you use. We would recommend that such data sharing activity will be part of your Horizon Europe dissemination strategy.



The above article offers a constructive starting point for Open Access in Horizon Europe. If you’d like to receive any further assistance on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us. 

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