Open Access

In keeping with the global movement towards democratization and improved mobilization of research knowledge, the agencies that support scholarly research with federal funds in Canada (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) have strongly endorsed the principle of open access of research results. As of February 2015, all peer-reviewed journal publications resulting from grants awarded after May 1, 2015, must be open access. This is defined as being made available, online, free, to anyone in the world with the means to access the internet.

Key points of the Open Access Policy (for SSHRC applicants)

  • Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication, either through the publisher's website (Option #1) or an online repository (Option #2).
  • Option #1: Grant recipients submit their manuscript to a journal that offers immediate open access to published articles, or offers open access to published articles within 12 months of publication. This is called 'gold' open access and almost always involves payment of Article Processing Fees.
  • Option #2: Grant recipients archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in a digital repository where it will be freely accessible within 12 months of publication (e.g., institutional or discipline-based repository). This is called 'green' open access and is almost always free of charge.
  • The Agencies will consider the cost of publishing in open access journals to be an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds.
  • It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.
  • Grant recipients must acknowledge Agency contributions in all peer-reviewed publications, quoting the funding reference number.
  • The Open Access policy refers only to peer-reviewed publications, not to books, chapters or data.

Further Information + Tools

  • Tri-Agency Policy on Open Access.
  • University of Alberta Libraries' Guide to Open Access Publishing.
  • University of Alberta's Institutional Repository (ERA, the Education Resource Archive).
  • SSHRC's Open Access "Toolbox" (a site with links to further information and resources).
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC®), is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. University of Alberta is a Full Member.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: DOAJ is an online, volunteer-run directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. Journals accepted into the DOAJ must adhere to specific criteria including transparency and accessibility of information regarding types of open access available and article-processing fees.
  • Directory of Open Access Repositories: OpenDOAR.
  • Sherpa RoMEO is a searchable database of publisher policies re: copyright and self-archiving.
  • Sherpa/Fact is a searchable database that helps researchers confirm that the journals in which they wish to publish their results comply with their funding agency's requirements for open access.
  • An Open Access Panel Discussion, Moderated by Michael O'Driscoll, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts, with presentations by: Heather Young-Leslie, Director, SS&H Grant Assist Program, Office of the VP Research, Kevin Haggerty, Editor, Canadian Journal of Sociology, Sheena Wilson, Editor-in-chief, Imaginations Journal, Patricia Paradis, Executive Director, Centre for Constitutional Studies, and Gerald Beasley, Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian. 
  • The Grant Assist Program partnered with the University of Alberta Libraries to offer support sessions in the Spring of 2015. Check the GAP SS&H 'Community of Resources' in ERA (the Education Resource Archive) for notes and tip sheets (your CCID is required).

Further Reading on Open Access

To share your observations about Open Access directly to SSHRC, you may contact