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Horizon 2020: Open Access requirements for publications and data

For projects funded under the European Commission's Horizon 2020 framework programme (2014-2020), Open Access is the standard mode required for the dissemination of the results of funded research (in Article 29 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement).

Specifically, with the only exception of results that are intended to be patented, Horizon 2020 requires publications to be made available in two ways:

  • Deposit in an Open Access repository (that must meet OpenAIRE requirements);
  • Immediate access to the document, if published in OA, or, if published in subscription journals, within 6 months for exact sciences, or 12 months for humanities and social sciences.

Which version of the article should be deposited in the repository?

If published in open-access journals: the full-text in PDF format of the same version as published in the journal (editorial layout). Depositing articles published in OA is mandatory for long-term retention reasons, and it is also important for evaluation purposes.

If published in non-open-access journals: the full-text of the version that the publisher has admitted for open-access depositing (to be verified on the Sherpa Romeo database, which collects editorial policies on copyright and self-archiving).

When should I deposit?

As soon as possible, at the latest at the time of publication in the journal.

Where should I deposit?

The chosen Repository must guarantee the storage of data and associated metadata:

  • In the institutional archive of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (IRIS)
  • In a disciplinary archive already in use in the reference community (list on
  • In Zenodo, a multidisciplinary archive managed by CERN, Geneva
  • Locate other repositories through

Bibliographic metadata

Through the repository, it is mandatory to give open access to the bibliographic metadata that describe the deposited publication. They must always include reference to the Grant.

Open data in H2020 - Open Research Data Pilot

The programme provides for access to and the reuse of data through the Open Research Data Pilot.

The beneficiaries of an H2020 project are required to draw up a Data Management Plan and deposit the data in the archive so that they may be accessed, exploited and reproduced by those who intend to use them.

Accessibility to data is an essential point of EC policies: data must be FAIR, or rather

  • Findable - Easily available
  • Accessible - Accessible to others
  • Interoperable - Can be integrated with other data and / or easily read by machines.
  • Reusable - Data can be reused in new research.

Applying or declining to apply the Pilot will not change the evaluation of the Project.

What is a DMP - Data Management Plan

A DMP analytically describes how each set of data will be managed during the development of a project and after its completion. The first version of the DMP must be submitted within 6 months of the start of the project, but it can be modified during its development.

Specific cases for waiving the Data Pilot

Since not all the data relating to a project can necessarily be made public, it is possible - with the right justification - to waive all or part of the Pilot. Waiving is possible in the following cases:

  • if the project does not generate / collect data
  • if the data needs to be protected with a view to possible economic exploitation
  • if it is incompatible with the need to protect data for security reasons
  • if it is incompatible with the obligation to protect sensitive data
  • if making data open
  • it represents a risk to the achievement of the main objective of the project itself
  • other legitimate reasons (to be justified)


Graph: Open access to scientific publication and research data in the wider context of dissemination and exploitation, Guidelines to the Rules on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Open Access to Research Data in Horizon 2020, Version 3.2, CE


Do I have to publish in an Open journal?

Researchers benefiting from H2020 funding are not required to publish in Open Access journals. Those who decide to publish in an Open Access journal do so by choice, often because the journal offers better services or greater visibility.

If I publish in Open Access and pay publication costs, can I ask for a refund?

Yes. H2020 provides that the APCs incurred for the OA publication can be reimbursed as long as the date of the invoice is previous to the end-date of the project, the costs have been forecast in the budget and the article contains an acknowledgment of the grant.

How do I indicate APC costs in the budget for the H2020 project?

Costs for APCs should be entered under Dissemination Costs. The budget for publications must be added to ordinary dissemination costs:

Budget for publications = average APC X Number of publications

The average APC for H2020 is calculated based on the possible cost of the APCs (gold OA and hybrid) as found on the publisher's website/policy, or on the average cost provided by reliable sources (e.g.: OpenAPC)

What if the budget is not enough to cover costs?

In this case, you can ask for an amendment.

How do I enter the acknowledgment in H2020?

An example of the text to be included in the article:

"This paper is supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No [grant no], project [project acronym] ([project full name])."

How can the grant reference be included in the metadata?

Directly on the repository or on OpenAIRE, through a claim. OpenAIRE uses a Text and Data Mining algorithm and a few months after publication, it will automatically associate the project with the article, if the acknowledgment has been correctly indicated.

What can I do if the publisher I have chosen requires different embargo times than the H2020 programme?

In this situation, an author can:

  • Choose Open Access journals or choose publishers that allow Open Access at the same embargo terms;
  • Negotiate different rules with the publisher before signing the agreement (using the Addendum model provided by the Commission) which require the parties to comply with EC obligations regarding OA. If the agreement with the publisher entirely prevents the open access dissemination of the publication (even with an embargo), and the article must absolutely be published in that specific journal, the European Commission invites the author to keep a copy of the correspondence with the publisher and to send it to the Project Officer (project contact person).
  • Publish in the previously chosen journal, using the Open Choice (at a fee) envisaged by commercial publishers. In this case, the expenses incurred for publication are reimbursable, provided that they were included in the initial budget for the project and the payment is booked before the end of the project.

And for all remaining literature, what are the H2020 requirements?

Only articles in scientific peer-reviewed journals are required to be made available through the deposit and subsequent opening of the documents.

For anything else (monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc.), it is just highly recommended to pursue the Open Access path.

 In which format should data be deposited?

Preferably non-proprietary formats. It is always necessary to make the dataset citable, associating a persistent identifier (e.g. DOI, which Zenodo provides automatically).

Does applying the FAIR principles to data mean making them open?

No, not necessarily. Accessible does not mean Open: you just need to know where the data can be found and under what conditions. This information is conveyed through the metadata, which must be made open.

 How should the Data Management Plan be written?

There are various online tools that can help, such as DMPOnline or the Data Stewardship Wizard. Then there are the Commission’s H2020 guidelines, which also include a template.

A DMP should, however, always include: dataset (data identification, collection methods, formats), descriptive metadata standards used, storage methods, storage and access conditions, documentation useful in understanding the source of the data, licenses useful for reuse.

Public Domain or Creative Commons 0 are the licences to be preferred for datasets, when it comes to future reuses related to content and data mining.  This does not mean that an author should not be recognized as such in line with the standard citation rules of scientific ethics. It simply means that the author also makes the data available to anyone engaging in text and data mining, who would otherwise find it difficult to reuse them. Creative Commons BY License (attribution) is also accepted.