The international context

This is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the international open access landscape, but a starting point for further research.


The Budapest Open Access Initiative

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is a declaration of the principles of open access arising from a conference held in Budapest on 1-2 December 2001. It is viewed as a key moment in the open access movement internationally.


On 11 February 2013, SPARC-Europe published a useful ‘Analysis of funded Open Access policies around the world’. The key finding is that of 48 mandatory funding policies, 33 require green OA, for a further 14 both gold and green OA are acceptable, and only in the UK is there a strong preference for gold. SPARC-Europe has also responded to the Finch Report, and to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee open access inquiry.

Science Europe

Science Europe, an association of European Research Funding Organisations and Research Performing Organisations, has set up two working groups, one on ‘Open access to publications’ and one on ‘Open access to data’.


As of 1 January 2013, the Australian Research Council (ARC) has mandated green open access, with a maximum 12-month embargo for articles arising from ARC-funded research. At present, the policy applies to ‘any material published in respect of an ARC-funded research activity’, and is not limited to journal articles.


In August 2008 the European Commission launched the ‘Open Access Pilot in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)’. Articles covered by the pilot are to be published under the green route to open access, with an embargo of 6-12 months depending on the host nation.

On 17 July 2012, the Commission announced that it would ‘make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020’. Both the gold and green routes are considered acceptable, with the latter involving a maximum embargo period of 12 months.

Further, ‘The Commission has also recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own domestic programmes. The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016’.


Many of the debates about open access policy as it relates to the humanities and social sciences that are currently taking place in the UK are also occurring in France. In February 2013, representatives of more than 120 journals and 50 publishers wrote an open letter entitled ‘Open Access: scientific work and public debate in the humanities and social sciences threatened by measures recommended by the European Commission, and calling for an independent assessment of the likely impact of green OA with a 12-month embargo on HSS journals. In contrast, on 15 March 2013, 60 senior French scholars wrote to Le Monde arguing that it would be enormously damaging for the humanities and social sciences not to participate fully in the open access movement. The arguments are summarised in the Times Higher Education article ‘French scholars say “oui” to open access‘.


The Republic of Ireland has already mandated green open access with a 12-month embargo period for AHSS. The gold route, however, is also supported.


In the US, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandates open access publication of journal articles after a maximum embargo period of 12 months, via PubMed Central. On 22 February 2013, federal funding agencies in the US were instructed to develop plans to implement green open access, with a 12-month embargo.

On 14 February the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act was brought before Congress, which would extend an NIH-like mandate to other funding bodies. It is a reworking of the previously unsuccessful Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). See this Harvard Open Access Project wiki for more information.