Open Access Requirements for Horizon 2020-Funded Projects

UK institutions and organisations are particularly well represented in Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), and Jisc is the National Open Access Desk in the UK for OpenAIRE Advance, one of whose tasks is to ensure that Horizon 2020-funded projects comply with funding policies. As such, we routinely contact project coordinators or research officers on behalf of OpenAIRE.  The relationship makes sense, because Jisc works on digital infrastructures across the country, and we supply HEI with the Janet Network, as well as a host of open access/open science services. In some instances, however,coordinators have not been cascading down the information we’ve sent to others who are involved in the various projects.

There is one particular Open Access obligation for all Horizon2020 projects that takes priority over many of the others:

Open Access Mandate:  All H2020 projects must provide open access (OA) to all peer-reviewed scientific publications that stem from project activities, immediately or otherwise within 6/12 months of publication where publisher embargoes apply.  Non-compliance can lead to a grant reduction and potential sanctions.

That last sentence is not an empty threat, and I have recently been contacted by a project in the UK whose funding was completely stopped, which makes me think there is a likelihood of others experiencing the same problem; in that instance, we were able to comply by putting a pre-print into the institution’s open repository. Please consult with others working on the project to find out if the research outputs need to be made open access. In some instances, the policy may NOT apply and in other instances, there may not be any research outputs. Additional information can be found in the document, “Guidelines to the Rules on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Open Access to Research Data in Horizon 2020.”

OA publications resulting from a project:

You can take a look at your project page at:, which can be used to help you with reporting, too. If your project is not on the page, you can set it up quite easily and then upload your outputs. It is also important to make sure you have uploaded your outputs into an open repository which complies with the OpenAIRE guidelines, version 4. If you do not have access to a suitable repository, you can upload your materials to the CERN-based repository Zenodo. If your repository does comply, Zenodo will be able to harvest your materials automatically. We scheduled a webinar recently to help repository managers comply with the guidelines; a blog post supplied links to the recording and to other valuable information to help: “Helping UK Open Repositories Comply with OpenAIRE’s Guidelines.”

In addition, there may be other requirements for the projects receiving funding, such as

The Open Research Data Pilot:

Projects in designated areas of H2020 will participate in a pilot project to make the underlying data related to project outputs openly available and accessible for use by other researchers, innovative industries and citizens. 

Not all H2020 projects are participating in this pilot, but if your project did sign up for it, the research data also needs to be made available in order to comply. Please get in touch if you are unsure if your project is obligated by the pilot.

More information:

Recordings and additional webinars from past Open Access weeks are also available: ‘Open Access and Open Research Data in H2020’. If you’re particularly new to the world of open access and open science, visit:

We are here to help, inform and assist all those involved in Horizon 2020 projects, as well as anyone involved with open access and open science initiatives, so get in touch with any questions:

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