This amounts to little more than an additional hassle for me.
The open sharing of research outputs may require some adjustments to your behavior, but the benefits far outweigh these incremental activities. Open policies lower barriers to knowledge and make it easier for interested parties to pursue promising investigative directions. These policies lessen the likelihood that multiple research teams will be pursuing duplicative investigations in siloed environments and and increase opportunities for collaboration. They decrease the potential for data miscalculation, misinterpretation, manipulation, and fraud by opening raw results up to the broader community. Getting more research outputs into the hands of more researchers with fewer barriers makes it easier for more scientists and scholars like you to better do their jobs. The net advantage of this approach, for both you and your colleagues, is significant.
Open access limits my freedom to publish in the journal of my choosing.
There are thousands of journals across scores of disciplines that publish fully open access journals. Additionally, a very large percentage of subscription journals offer “hybrid” open access that allows authors to make their individual articles freely available to readers. In virtually every academic subject area, authors can choose from a plethora of high-quality, reputable open access publishing options.
Open access is expensive.
Research funders with open access policies often cover the costs associated with open access publishing. This may be part of the original grant proposal budget or a separate disbursement. It is worth noting that many open access journals charge no fees at all. Many others provide waivers for authors who cannot pay an article processing charge (APC). Additional ways to openly and inexpensively share your publication include posting a preprint and archiving a post-publication manuscript.
I just want to put a copy of my article up on my personal website.
Open policies are designed to promote the widest possibility accessibility of your research outputs, both today and in the future. To accomplish this, it is critical that articles are made available on sites that have carefully crafted preservation and reuse strategies. Copyright, archiving, machine readability, and similar considerations are complex to navigate. Third parties (e.g.,, open access publishers, repositories) are typically more suitable vehicles for sharing your articles.
My data will have limited or no value to others.
The entire concept of open data is grounded in the notion that the market for the building blocks of research outputs should not be artificially restricted. Who knows where the next innovation will come from, or what combination of datasets will produce a breakthrough? Data sharing has the additional benefit of promoting research reproducibility. This helps validate new findings and suggest ways to strengthen experiments for follow-on research. Open data policies maximize the information the research community has at its disposal to pursue new leads, build upon the scholarly record, and accelerate discovery.
I have no place to deposit my research data.
Research data is highly specialized, meaning no single deposit location is universally applicable. That said, researchers can choose from thousands of data repositories to fit their specific needs. Primary considerations should include reuse policies (does the repository allow any interested party to freely access the data without restriction), security measures (how are datasets and how is any confidential information protected), stability (what funding mechanisms are in place to ensure that the data will be available for the indefinite future), and file format flexibility (can the repository accommodate all aspects of the grant recipients’ dataset, regardless of file type). Additionally, it is good practice for researchers to deposit their data in a repository that is appropriate for the subject matter in question.This optimizes the ability of others to discover and build upon the data.
Others will scoop and steal my intellectual property if I make my research open.
There is no evidence to suggest that openly sharing your data and papers leads to others claiming priority over your research ideas. To specifically address this concern, many open policies give researchers ample opportunity to develop their findings and publish results under an exclusive window. After a certain period of time, however, the granting body must also consider how the work it funds can be utilized by the wider research community to accelerate the pace of discovery. The principle of a lengthy but not indefinite period in which you have sole rights to extract value from your work is a sufficient safeguard against scooping."
An open policy is a hassle to administer.
Often administrators are concerned about how policy changes can create additional administrative work to already busy staff. Policies often require discussion within the institution, integrating into current workflows, and compliance checks. However, after the initial work the benefits of the policy outweigh the upkeep. There are also tools being developed to help administrators more easily manage open policies.
I am concerned about pushback from grant applicants.
There is no evidence to suggest, drawing from the hundreds of funding bodies that have adopted open policies, that the quantity or quality of grant applicants has been adversely affected by these additional requirements. Every organization already places certain conditions on the projects it funds. Examples include periodic reporting, acknowledgement of funding support on public outputs, and biosecurity risk mitigation. The implementation of an open policy is an incremental additional to these terms and conditions. Many federal agencies and universities are adopting similar policies, which means that prospective grant applicants are becoming increasingly familiar with these types of requirements.
It is impossible to monitor open policy compliance and track impact.
While tracking open policy can appear to be difficult, there is a growing support system to help alleviate this burden. Tools and technology are being created to easily and more effectively facilitate policy in the grant-making process. Policy does not have to be one size fits all - there is a spectrum of open access policies so that you can craft the policy that best fits for your institution. Please see the “How Open Is It?” Guide to Research Funders Policies for more information.
Open sharing is not important enough to be an organizational priority.
The open sharing of research outputs is one of the most cost-effective ways to pursue a philanthropic organization’s mission. Funders invest heavily in research in order to accelerate the pace of discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and improve the public good. These goals are not best met by locking research findings behind paywalls that severely restrict access. Having funded the most expensive component of the research life cycle (the research itself), the incremental expense and effort required to ensure open sharing of the findings is modest by comparison. If you run a foundation committed to tackling a complex set of issues, ask yourself - Do I want more or fewer people to have access to the work we are funding? Do I want more or fewer researchers to be able to validate and build upon these findings? Do I want more or fewer practitioners and policy makers to be able to incorporate this work into their own activities? Do I want this access to happen more quickly or less quickly? The bottom line is that when a philanthropy commits to the open sharing of the research it funds, the audience for that work blossoms exponentially.
I am concerned about pushback from grant applicants.
There is no evidence to suggest, drawing from the hundreds of funding bodies that have adopted open policies, that the quantity or quality of grant applicants has been adversely affected by these additional requirements. Every organization already places certain conditions on the projects it funds. Examples include periodic reporting, acknowledgement of funding support on public outputs, and biosecurity risk mitigation. The implementation of an open policy is an incremental addition to these terms and conditions that establishes from the outset your organization’s expectations on how grantees should share research outputs. Many federal agencies and universities are adopting similar policies, which means that prospective grant applicants are becoming increasingly familiar with these types of requirements.
I am concerned about pushback from foundation trustees.
A core priority of board trustees is holding the organization accountable as good stewards of its research investments. Open policies have a direct impact on this concern by ensuring wide and equitable dissemination of the work the foundation supports.
I am concerned about pushback from foundation staff.
There is a range of activities that funders can take to oversee open policies. At the low-touch end of the spectrum, funders can require grant recipients to document how they intend to comply. Depending on internal resources, some funders spot-check these plans, while others simply rely on the honor system. Other organizations take a more engaged approach, requiring proof of compliance from grant recipients and checking this against internal expectations and guidelines. Funders without open policies may view administration and compliance as daunting tasks. However, each organization can make its own appropriate determination about the resources they are able to devote to these activities. Organizations like the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) can provide support and insight into best practices and available resources. The ORFG can also work with you to determine which parts of your organization (e.g., legal, finance, operations) should be engaged in policy formulation and oversight, as well as how to engage them productively.