Summary

The new Open Access to Publications policy, which will take effect on January 1, 2022, will require all HHMI laboratory heads to publish in a manner that makes their research articles freely available on the publication date under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

Advocating for broader immediate access to published scientific research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) today announced significant changes to its publishing policy. The new policy, which will take effect on January 1, 2022, will require all HHMI laboratory heads to publish in a manner that makes their research articles freely available on the publication date under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

HHMI’s policy outlines the new requirements and a number of options that HHMI scientists have to meet this open access mandate. The goal of the policy is to ensure that when HHMI research is published, it is shared with immediate open access and without restrictions on subsequent use, enabling others to build on the work to accelerate discovery.

“Science is critically dependent on access to the information, data, and ideas contained in published primary research articles,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea. “We believe we can best advance HHMI’s mission, including the discovery and sharing of new scientific knowledge, by sharing new science freely and immediately. We want all scientists to be able to discuss, analyze, and build upon each other’s work.”

HHMI Open Access Goals

The policy announced today aligns with the principles of Plan S, which was developed by the cOAlition S organizations, a group leading the open access movement in Europe and elsewhere. Plan S takes effect in January 2021. With today’s announcement, HHMI is joining other participants in cOAlition S, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome, in the drive towards open access publishing.

The new policy represents a major change for the Institute, a medical research organization that spends more than $750 million annually on basic biomedical research and employs more than 2,300, including more than 250 HHMI Investigators at laboratories throughout the United States and 44 lab heads at the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. HHMI’s current publishing policy requires that each HHMI lab head make their work available online freely within 12 months of publication.

Noting that the scientific publishing landscape is in flux, O’Shea said that many journals are currently assessing their publishing models. “We are seeing more and more journals comply with open access goals and we are optimistic that by the time our policy rolls out, even more journals will join us,” she said.

HHMI Open Access Timeline

The new policy is HHMI’s latest step in its efforts over two decades to influence and catalyze important changes in scientific publishing that foster greater access to scientific outputs. In 2003, HHMI hosted a key meeting in which the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing was drafted, leading to an early working definition of open access publication in the life sciences and biomedicine. In 2007, HHMI became one of the first research organizations in the United States to adopt a public access publishing policy. Four years later, in 2011, the Institute joined with Wellcome and the Max Planck Institute in creating the open access journal eLife. More recently, the Institute has advocated for more transparent and community-driven publishing practices, including the use of preprints as a means of making scientific research freely available and faster. It has also changed its guidelines to allow HHMI scientists to include preprints among the published research articles they submit when they undergo scientific review.

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HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the United States. Our scientists make discoveries that advance human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. We also invest in transforming science education into a creative, inclusive endeavor that reflects the excitement of research. HHMI’s headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

For More Information

Jim Keeley 301.215.8858 keeleyj@hhmi.org