Tri-council Brief on Open Access to Publications and Research

Working together to promote access to the results of publicly funded research

The 2010 release of Access to Research Results: Guiding Principles by the three federal granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)—includes a commitment to develop a shared approach for improving access to the results of publicly funded research in keeping with internationally recognized best practices, standards and policies for funding and conducting research.

As a first step toward the development of a joint policy, the agencies recently commissioned a Comprehensive Brief on Open Access to Publications and Research Data—an environmental scan of the policy context in Canada and internationally, and the diverse challenges of open access from the point of view of different stakeholder groups, including universities, researchers across various disciplines, and government agencies. This document may be useful to others who are interested in open access.

There are a number of open access policies for research publications in Canada, primarily in the health sector. With the exception of a few specific initiatives, Canadian organizations (e.g., funding agencies and institutions) have yet to implement data sharing policies that are broadly applicable and that can be effectively monitored. Other jurisdictions, including Europe, the US and Australia, have made significant progress adopting policies and investing in infrastructure to support open access.

Globally, funding agencies are faced with a number of challenges related to open access and data sharing policies. In Canada, new incentives, infrastructure, expertise, and funding models are needed, and developing these elements will require close collaboration among research communities, universities, libraries, funders and publishers. Cooperative approaches can help mitigate the risks for all stakeholders in transitioning to open access models. This briefing paper will be used as a starting point to inform discussions between the three federal granting agencies as they consider how they might implement open access measures, collectively or individually, over the next few years. The agencies’ ultimate goal is to adopt a joint policy on access to research results.

The Comprehensive Brief on Open Access to Publications and Research is available by request (

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