Open Access, Open Data

What is Open Access?

According to the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy, (“CGIAR OADM Policy”) Open Access refers to “the immediate, irrevocable, unrestricted and free online access by any user worldwide to information products, and unrestricted re-use of content (which could be restricted to non-commercial use and/or granted subject to appropriate licenses in line with the CGIAR Intellectual Asset Principles), subject to proper attribution”.

What is the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy, and why do I need to make my research outputs openly accessible?

The CGIAR OADM Policy stems from – and complies with – the CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets (“CGIAR IA Principles”), which is the umbrella document for this Policy. In particular, this Policy expands on Article 6.1 of the CGIAR IA Principles which provides that “The CGIAR and the Centers shall promptly and broadly disseminate their research results, subject to confidentiality as may be associated with [certain] permitted restrictions, or subject to limited delays to seek IP Rights [(patents, etc.)]”.The Policy was endorsed by all 15 CGIAR Centers in November 2013.CGIAR Centers and Research Programs have been leaders in agricultural development for decades, producing valuable outputs that are generally considered to be global public goods. Recognizing the need to make these outputs findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR principles), CGIAR has made a strong commitment to Open Access and Open Data (OA-OD). Implementing OA-OD in a harmonized manner across CGIAR will not only facilitate compliance with an increasing number of key donor policies (e.g. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Open Access Policy, USAID Open Data Policy), it will empower researchers to improve efficiencies and enhance innovation and impact in an era of complex and large data sets (“big data”) backed by proven technological infrastructure.

Whose policy must I follow when I have research outputs from a multi-donor grant?

Some donors have indicated that they may be open to grantees following the CGIAR OADM Policy for multi-donor grants. This is something that would need to be proposed to and discussed with the appropriate program officers.

What is an “embargo period”?

An embargo period is the time during which journal access is not available to users who have not paid for access, either individually or via an institutional subscription.

What research outputs do I need to make open?

The emphasis of the CGIAR OADM Policy is on final research outputs – those information products (regardless of format) that are “stable” and unlikely to undergo further change (e.g., post-publication materials, datasets collected over the life of a project that has ended, etc). Specific types of information products covered by the CGIAR OADM Policy include:

  • Peer-reviewed versions of journal articles
  • Self-published journals, books, reports etc.
  • Reports and other papers
  • Externally or commercially published books and book chapters
  • Data and databases
  • Video, audio, images
  • Computer software/applications/code
  • Metadata
  • Core/corporate governance documents appropriate for public consumption (e.g., financial reports, board agendas and minutes, annual reports, as appropriate)
  • CGIAR OADM Policy
I have sensitive data I cannot make open (for reasons of privacy/patent/sensitive results…). What recourse do I have under the terms of CGIAR’s Open Access and Data Management Policy?

Exemption from the terms of the CGIAR OADM Policy may be sought as per Article 6.1 of the CGIAR IA Principles which states that “The CGIAR and the Centers shall promptly and broadly disseminate their research results, subject to confidentiality as may be associated with [certain] permitted restrictions, or subject to limited delays to seek IP Rights [(patents, etc.)]”.It is expected that any such exemptions would be accompanied by a brief justification, following discussion with the IP/Legal focal point at your Center.

How can I make my research outputs open? What about my partners’ research outputs?

You can publish your research (typically publication or data) in an Open Access journal, or pay to make a closed-access publication or data set open. There are an increasing number of data journals to make data sets open and provide citations similar to traditional article-based journals. The Open Data journal for Agricultural Research is one that is focused on agriculture, and still being developed through collaboration with INRA, Wageningen University, CGIAR, and others. Regardless of where a final research output is first published, either the article itself or a URL for it must be uploaded to a Center repository so it can be discovered via internet search engines and/or a cross-CGIAR indexing infrastructure that is currently being explored. All Centers typically have separate repositories for publications and data. Your research outputs should be annotated using the CG Core Metadata Schema (at minimum), and uploaded by you or the responsible staff at your Center into the appropriate Center repository. The proliferation of “boutique” solutions to make outputs available on individual project or unit basis is strongly discouraged. Research outputs generated by partners funded through your Center will also need to be deposited—ideally in the appropriate Center repository with the resource URL available for partner web sites and repositories—or in the partner’s standards-compliant repository that will render resources findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable into perpetuity. In the latter case, the resource URL from the partner repository should be included along with metadata for the resource in the appropriate Center repository.

What support services are available, particularly to make my publications and data open?

Your Center has knowledge management and/or data management, and/or information management personnel who will be able to help you with publications and data in particular. These staff members may reside in the Communications or Library units, or in a separate Research Data managers may also be able to assist with making software products open, in consultation with Center IT staff, as necessary. Your Center’s Legal/IP staff can assist with questions about licenses and IPR etc. The Data and Knowledge Manager at the CGIAR System Management Office (Medha Devare; and the Legal Officer (Rodrigo Sara; are also happy to help answer any questions you might have about Open Access and Open Data. The CGIAR System Management Office OA/OD Team has worked with Centers to gather and organize useful resources in an Open Access and Open Data Support Pack. These resources are intended for researchers, knowledge/data/information managers, IP/Legal specialists, and others. Comments and suggestions are welcome; please send them to Céline Aubert;

The journal I want to publish in has sent me a copyright agreement, transferring copyright to the publisher. Can I still upload my publication to my website—or to the institutional repository or elsewhere?

Once manuscripts have been accepted by a journal, publishers typically require authors to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA). CGIAR encourages all authors to use an Author Addendum to retain specific rights necessary to legally deposit and disseminate article manuscripts via repositories and comply with the CGIAR OADM Policy (see “Guidance, Templates” in the Advocacy and Guidance Materials of the Open Access and Open Data Support Pack). Of particular importance are the rights to deposit the peer-reviewed version of manuscripts, deposit immediately, and allow for re-use rights such as translations.

Do I need to make all data collected through my projects open?

Ideally, all stable, quality-checked raw data files will be made open. However, the CGIAR OADM Policy and most donor policies focus on data related to final research outputs (e.g. publications).

I have data sets collected years ago that may be of value, but it will take time and resources to annotate them appropriately, check quality etc. before making them open. How do I decide whether these data sets merit the investments required for open access?

Work is ongoing to develop a framework to help researchers decide what legacy data it may be worthwhile making open. A draft data prioritization framework has been developed by the CGIAR System Management Office customized from a CIO Council toolkit developed for the use of all United States Government agencies who are mandated to make data open (see “Data prioritization” in the Advocacy and Guidance Materials of the Open Access and Open Data Support Pack). This framework produces a data prioritization matrix based on the cost, value, and risk of making any dataset open.To provide feedback on the framework, or to discuss further, please contact Medha Devare (

How can I plan for Open Access, Open Data in project proposals?

An exemplar budget has been developed that is most appropriate to help in budgeting for OA/OD costs in CRPs and/or large projects (see “Budgeting and Planning” in the OA/DM Administration section of the Open Access and Open Data Support Pack). However, this can also be adapted for smaller projects by determining the fraction of FTEs required or funding contributions toward repositories and other platforms/services in support of OA/OD. Donors increasingly request grantees to submit a Data Management Plan (DMP) to indicate how data will be efficiently managed and made open, and available into perpetuity. An exemplar DMP is included in the Open Access and Open Data Support Pack. Creating a DMP for any project is time well-spent; once developed, a DMP is likely to only require small adjustments from one project to the next, but provides evidence of good faith to donors, and a road map for implementing OA/OD in your project. Planning for OA/OD should always involve appropriate staff at your Center (knowledge, data, information managers; legal/IP) from project inception onward. These staff are in the process of finalizing and operationalizing OA/OD implementation plans; early and frequent consultation with them is likely to save time and resources.

How much should I plan on budgeting for Open Access, Open Data?

Working with your Center’s knowledge/data/information managers and others to customize the exemplar budget developed to help researchers and others determine costs for OA/OD should be useful in budgeting for OA/OD in your project. As a quick rule of thumb, the recommendation is often made to assign about 5% of a project’s budget to ensuring that resources are Open.

I didn’t budget for Open Access, Open Data. How do I now go about making publications or data open?

Some donors (e.g. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have allocated resources separate from awarded grants to make publications resulting from those grants Open Access. It may be worth talking with your program officer/s to explore the possibility of such separate funding sources to make research outputs open when they are not budgeted. Some OA journals will not charge for OA publication; others charge Article Processing Charges (APCs) that would ideally be budgeted into project costs. A list of OA journals (including impact factor and APCs) may be of use as you consider which journals to publish in.

How can I ensure that my research outputs are not maliciously re-used or misrepresented?

An appropriate license will typically state that any user must attribute you in works resulting from their use of your outputs. For example, if you use a CC-BY License (also referred to as a “CC Attribution License”; see FAQ on Licensing for more detail), you retain copyright over your work, while allowing others to distribute, remix and build upon it, even in a commercial setting. Any users of your CC-BY licensed work MUST attribute you in any resulting works. CC-BY does not affect your moral rights to the work (regarding “derogatory use” of your work) or your “fair use” rights. Further explanation is provided below. It is advisable to provide a short statement telling potential users how you would like to be credited (for example, this can be seen on the front of many PLOS papers). You may want to provide a link to the CC-BY online summary to help your users understand their obligations:
The following explanations are taken from the Creative Commons listing for the CC-BY License:

  1. Moral rights: In addition to the right of licensors to request removal of their name from the work when used in a derivative or collective they don’t like, copyright laws in most jurisdictions around the world (with the notable exception of the US except in very limited circumstances) grant creators “moral rights” which may provide some redress if a derivative work represents a “derogatory treatment” of the licensor’s work.
  2. Fair use: All jurisdictions allow some limited uses of copyrighted material without permission. CC licenses do not affect the rights of users under those copyright limitations and exceptions, such as fair use and fair dealing where applicable. [Adapted from Open Access at Oxford University – FAQ]


What does CGIAR’s Open Access and Data Management Policy recommend for open licenses?

Article 4.1.5. of CGIAR’s OADM Policy deals with “Copyright and Open Licenses”, and states that: Suitable open licenses shall be used that recognize the legal rights to information products and encourage their use and adaptation. While the Policy does not mandate use of a particular open license, the use of the most permissive licenses are encouraged, as per the requirements of key CGIAR donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who state that publications and data be made open under the most permissive CC-BY Creative Commons license.

How do I decide which license I need?

A quick, 6-step guide to selecting an open license has been created by the OA Team at the CGIAR System Management Office to help researchers and others choose an appropriate open license. Creative Commons also offers an easy visual guide to choosing the appropriate Creative Commons license.

Where can I get help on licensing issues/concerns?

Your Center’s IP/Legal focal point may be able to provide help with licensing issues. There are several resources that may be of help in the “Licensing” folder of the “Advocacy and Guidance” section of the Open Access, Open Data Support Pack maintained by the CGIAR System Management Office. The Legal Officer at the CGIAR System Management Office can also provide support on Open Access issues; please email Rodrigo Sara at

What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Their free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — via conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify copyright terms to best suit your needs.

What can Creative Commons do for me?

If you want to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work you’ve created, you should consider publishing it under a Creative Commons license. CC gives you flexibility (for example, you can choose to allow only non-commercial uses) and protects the people who use your work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions you have specified. If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from scientific and academic material to songs and videos — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.