Open access, open data, open everything?!

Open access and open data are often heard buzz words in Horizon 2020 research and innovation proposals and projects. But what are you really obliged to do to fulfill the funding requirements? And, why is it also good for you?

The two terms are often confused: Open access refers to scientific, peer-reviewed publications. Open data concerns data collected during a project. Before going into detail, let’s look at the two most common misconceptions about open access and open data:

Open access requirements in Horizon 2020

To fulfill open access requirements, a digital (that is a machine-readable) copy of your publication has to be deposited online. This publication must be available to be read, downloaded and printed. In addition, you need to make every effort to allow to copy, distribute, search, link, crawl, and mine your publication.

Bibliographic data (metadata) must also be presented complying open access requirements and always include the terms “European Union (EU)” and “Horizon 2020”, the name of the action, the project acronym and your grant number, as well as the publication date, the length of the embargo period (if any) and the persistent identifier number (e. g. DOI number) of your publication.

Two options for open access

Green open access option: this open access option refers to self-archiving of publications. It is usually combined with an embargo time that is set by the journal, which can be 6 to 36 month long. Within this time period your publication is not yet available for free. In practice, for many researchers this this way to open access is not an option as the European Commission allows only for a maximum embargo time of up to 6 months.

Gold open access option: In order to go through with this option you will need to pay for immediate open access. This can either be by publishing in specific open access journals or in so called hybrid open access journals, where you pay for „online open“. In both cases you will get immediate access to the high-quality PDF of your manuscript. The publication is usually covered by the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence, meaning that the publisher only gets a license to publish your publication but the actual copyright stays with author(s).

For an overview on open access publisher policies see:

Open data requirements in Horizon 2020

As mentioned, only data underlying peer-reviewed publications has to be deposited openly. For other datasets you can decide whether to make them accessible to others or not. This is summed up in the so-called data management plan (DMP). To allow for reuse of publicly available datasets, the “FAIR principle” should be followed: findable, accessible, inter-operable and reusable. Check the H2020 guidelines on FAIR data management for more information.

What is in the open access way for you?

Open access can boost how often you get cited as it also gives access to researchers that do not have a subscription for the chosen journal. Also the high-quality PDF of your publication you will receive when choosing the golden open access option is a plus for all other project communication and dissemination activities. You can send it out freely, put it on your own website, ResearchGate, ect. This helps you to increase your visibility as a scientist. Finally depositing on the Zenodo repository (see below) saves you time when reporting.

Open data increases your credibility as a scientist, as it allows other researchers to confirm the conclusions you reached in your publication. Repositories also assign a digital object identifier number (DOI number) which makes it easy for you to link to your data, but also to get credit for your work if someone else works with your data and cites you, adding even more value to your data. This fact is also a good reason to add data not directly leading to a publication to a repository.

Finally, the costs of open access and open data can be charged to your EU funded project.

How and where do I deposit?

Both green and golden open access publications and underlying data have to be deposited! A machine-readable electronic copy (e. g. the accepted author manuscript or the final PDF) has to be deposited in a repository as soon as possible but at the latest upon publication.

In the case of the green open access option, authors should add a link to the final version and the accepted author manuscript (AAM) should be used for depositing. This is the final peer-reviewed version of your manuscript, including reviewer comments, but without the layouting by the publisher.

A repository is an online archive which can be based at your institution, subject-based or centralised. To find the most suitable repository for publications, have a look at or Data repositories can be found here:

If there are no suitable repositories you can use Zenodo ( which is supported by the European Commission (hosted by CERN) and accepts publications and datasets. One of the main advantages of Zenodo is that you can directly link your publications to your H2020 funded project. The publication then shows up automatically in the EU Participant Portal for your dissemination reporting.

For more information, have a look at the Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe (OpenAIRE) ( and the EC guide for open access and open data.

What is…..?

  • Open access: in H2020 this refers to scientific, peer-reviewed publications, which need to be deposited to make them accessible without cost to anyone
  • Open data: refers to depositing of research data
  • Deposit: upload your publication and/or data to a repository
  • Repository: is an online archive which can be based at your institution, subject-based or centralised
  • Embargo time: time between publishing of a publication by a journal, and making it available for free to everyone
  • Data management plan (DMP): document describing data generated in a project, its’ source, format, purpose, open access options, etc.