NIHR Policy on Open Access

As a publicly funded research body, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) requires authors to make outputs from its research publicly available. Please refer to the NIHR website for any updates on publishing.


We support the principle of open access to the outputs of research, which can offer both social and economic benefits as well as aiding the development of new research and stimulating wider economic growth of the UK economy.  The NIHR is also committed to adding value in research, which ensures publishing research results in full in an accessible and unbiased report.

As one of the original funders of Europe PMC, the NIHR has an open access policy. Our policy is in line with those of the Research Councils and follows the Government’s response to the 2013 Finch Report “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publication”.

Launched in January 2007 (as UKPMC), Europe PMC provides a permanent and free-to-access online digital archive of the full text, peer reviewed research publications (and datasets) that arise from research funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the NIHR and other members of Europe PMC’s Funders Group.

The DHSC and NIHR support the fundamental principles that:

  • ideas and knowledge derived from publicly funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation and scrutiny as widely, rapidly and effectively as possible
  • the models and mechanisms for publication and access to research results must be both efficient and cost effective in the use of public funds
  • the outputs from current and future research should be preserved and remain accessible for future generations


Our policy applies to any peer-reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers, final reports or executive summaries), which are supported in whole or in part by NIHR funding, that have been submitted for publication since 1 April 2014, and which are published. The NIHR managing centres monitor compliance with this policy, including reviewing information that has been reported through Researchfish.

Requirement of researchers

DHSC and NIHR require that NIHR-funded researchers seek to publish their research outputs in a peer-reviewed journal that is compliant with the policy on open access.

  • It is expected that the research  should be published in a journal that makes it  available using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, and allows immediate deposit of the final published version in other repositories without restriction on re-use. If this is not possible then the authors must reconsider the appropriateness of the original publication and how to comply with the point above.
  • It is expected that award holders will make provision from the award to cover publication costs under this policy. (previous transition arrangements have been withdrawn) If necessary, researchers may need to contact the awarding NIHR Managing Centre to discuss this. This does not apply to any recipient of NIHR funding prior to 1 April 2014, which remain under the requirements of their original contract, however it is recommended that these award holders contact the appropriate NIHR managing centre to discuss publication.
  • The above should not prevent researchers from also depositing a copy in their own institutional or another subject-based repository should they choose to do so, or be required to do so by their employing institution subject to any restrictions from the publishers.


NIHR award holders may find it beneficial to work in cooperation with other research funders’ approaches to open access (for example RCUK’s OA Block Grant, or host organisation publication support schemes). The NIHR reserves the right to review how the funds are being utilised, but expects researchers and research bodies to make the most cost effective use of funding.

As part of its long standing commitment to open access, the NIHR is a member of BioMed Central. This entitles NIHR researchers to a 15% discount against article processing charges for BioMed Central and SpringerOpen journals, although NIHR researchers are free to approach any publisher within the scope of the wider policy. The NIHR supports the recommendation of the Finch Report over the establishment by research organisations of Institutional Publication Funds to meet the costs of article processing charges for open access publishing.

In common with the RCUK policy, DHSC and NIHR also recognises that copyright in the manuscript itself would normally remain with the author and this will continue.

  • For the purposes of this policy the NIHR considers that the ‘content’ of a paper includes, but is not limited to, the text, data, images and figures within a paper.
  • DH and NIHR will continue to work with the other funders of Europe PMC and Research Councils to ensure that the wider adoption of open access in the research community is managed in a sensitive and timely fashion. The NIHR will work with all parties to ensure that the researcher is not inconvenienced.
  • The policy does not cover books, critical editions, volumes and catalogues, or forms of non-peer-reviewed material. However, the NIHR encourages authors of such material to consider making them open access where possible.
  • As part of supporting the drive for openness and transparency in research, and to ensure that researchers consider and plan for data access, the policy requires all NIHR researchers to prepare and submit to the NIHR a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed. The policy does not require that the data must be made open.

NIHR Journals Library

The NIHR is the world’s first health research funder to publish comprehensive accounts of its commissioned research within its own publicly and permanently available journal series. The NIHR Journals Library comprises a suite of five open access peer reviewed journals reporting results from a range of health research areas. Studies funded under the following research programmes are required to submit a final report for publication in the relevant NIHR journal:

  • Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme
  • NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme
  • NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme
  • NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) Programme
  • NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) Programme

Although publication in the NIHR Journals Library meets the requirements of the NIHR open access policy, the NIHR encourages researchers to also publish in other high impact peer-reviewed journals.

Should a researcher inform the relevant NIHR managing centre of their wish to publish a paper in a journal that is unwilling to agree either to the overarching aims of this policy, or to deposition of the manuscript in Europe PMC within six months of publication, NIHR may, in exceptional and merited circumstance, grant permission for the author to submit the paper for publication in such a journal.