The open science movement is growing rapidly. It is based on the need to achieve greater equity in access to scientific knowledge and to contribute to citizen science literacy.

According to the UNESCO Recommendation on open science, “open science sets a new paradigm that integrates into the scientific enterprise practices for reproducibility, transparency, sharing and collaboration resulting from the increased opening of scientific contents, tools and processes.”

Several research funding agencies in Canada and internationally are mobilizing to propose measures to promote more equitable access to research results.

FRQ policy on open access

Open access promotes sharing with the scientific community, but also with all other communities that could benefit from these discoveries. All spheres of society benefit from freely accessing scientific results and using them to address the challenges facing society.

The FRQ Open access policy for the dissemination of research requires that funding holders make any peer-reviewed publication that presents the results of their research available in open access no later than 12 months after it is published.

To meet this requirement, two options are accepted:

  • selecting a journal that makes the publication available as open access (no later than 12 months after it is published), or;
  • depositing the final publication in an institutional or disciplinary open access electronic repository (no later than 12 months after publication).

View the FRQ Open access policy 

FAQ on the Policy

1. To whom does this Policy apply?

The Open Access Policy for the dissemination of research is intended for the following:

  • FRQ funding holders (grant and award);
  • students whose research activities are made possible (in part or in whole) by QRF funding, and ;
  • members of a research team, network, group, center or institute funded by the FRQ.

A publication from these individuals is covered by the Policy when:

  • they have used FRQ funding to generate (in part or in whole) the research results that are presented in this publication, or ;
  • they are a member of a research team, network, group, center or institute funded by the FRQ and the publication is intended to meet the objectives of the research team, network, group, center or institute. This includes publications that will be cited in a renewal or progress report as evidence of scientific production aimed at achieving the objectives of the team, network, group, center or institute.
2. Who is responsible for ensuring open access?

It is the responsibility of funding holders and any person whose research activities are made possible (in whole or in part) by funding from the FRQ to ensure that the publication they authored is open access.

If they choose to make their publication available in open access in an institutional or university repository, they are responsible for ensuring that the publisher grants them the necessary intellectual property rights.

For their part, institutions have a responsibility to support their community members in complying with the Policy, and to provide resources to assist them in the process of disseminating open access research results.

3. Are publication costs eligible expenses?

Fees for making a publication open access, in accordance with the Open access policy for the dissemination of research, are an eligible expense (section 8 of the Common General Rules).

This includes open access fees charged by scientific publishers (including immediate access upon publication or within 12 months of publication).

4. Is an additional amount provided to pay the open access fee?

No additional funds are provided to cover the cost of open access publication.

Funding holders must comply with the requirement to make their peer-reviewed publication available in open access within 12 months of publication. They may use the amounts obtained from the FRQ to pay the open access publication fees or they may use an academic or institutional repository at no cost.

5. How do I know if a journal offers open access publication?

There are platforms that aim to find and understand the copyright and open access deposit policies of scientific publishers, such as SHERPA/RoMEO. In addition, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)  identifies journals that publish open access.

Some institutions also offer information and resources on this topic through their libraries.

6. What is meant by "research results" in the Policy?

“Research results” are defined by the FRQ as any item that reports the results obtained from research activities. These results may be presented in a variety of forms and generally include the methodology, scientific analyses, graphs, figures, or tables derived from them.

The FRQs exclude from the notion of “research results” the data used or the raw data produced in the course of the research activity. Data are therefore not covered by the Open access policy for the dissemination of research.

7. What is the advantage of not waiting 12 months before making it openly available?

Making open access available immediately upon publication promotes the timely and equitable dissemination of publicly funded research results.

It also helps to ensure compliance with the Open access policy on the dissemination of research.

8. What happens when partners have different expectations about open access?

The Open access policy for the dissemination of research applies to all FRQ grants and awards. For example, if a grant is provided under an agreement with FRQ funding partners, peer-reviewed publications must be made available in open access within 12 months of publication.

The situation may be different in the case of research contracts that researchers enter into with financial partners or funders, whether private or public. In these cases, researchers are in the best position to agree with their partners on whether or not to make their research results open access. In such circumstances, the FRQ understand that the agreement reached may take precedence over the requirements of the Policy.

9. What are academic and institutional electronic repositories?

All universities in Quebec have an institutional electronic repository to centralize, preserve and make accessible the knowledge produced within their community. A list of university repositories is available from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

View the liste of university repositories

There are also disciplinary electronic repositories whose purpose is to bring together publications in one or more related research disciplines (for example, for health research: National Institute of Health Manuscript Submission System.

10. When the application of the Policy begins?

The Policy applies to any peer-reviewed publication that presents the results of research conducted (in whole or in part) with a FRQ grant or award obtained since April 1, 2019.

11. Are monographs covered by the Policy?

Open access publication of monographs may present a greater challenge to researchers or students whose research activities are made possible by FRQ funding. For this reason, the Open access policy for the dissemination of research does not apply to monographs at this time.

However, the FRQ encourages the voluntary dissemination of any form of open access publication of research results.

Joining the Plan S

In 2021, the FRQ joined cOAlition S, which is working to implement immediate open access to scientific publications. In doing so, the FRQ are joining forces with several funding agencies around the world that are working to accelerate the deployment of open access. Launched in 2018, cOAlition S established the Plan S to accelerate the shift to open access. Organizations adhering to Plan S require that scientific articles resulting from their funding be made available in open access immediately upon publication.

View the Plan S

Changes to come

Currently, the Open access policy for the dissemination of research requires that scientific articles generated by the research funded by the FRQ be made available in open access within 12 months of publication. The FRQ will therefore amend their Policy to eliminate, by March 2023, this 12-month delay.

Support the scientific community

Aware of the impacts that this change could have on the scientific community, the FRQ will gradually deploy the 10 principles of Plan S and establish measures to support and train members of this community

Research data and results on COVID-19 disease

In March 2020, the FRQ made a commitment to the principles of the statement entitled Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In an effort to inform the public health response and save lives, the FRQ have joined the international effort to share data and research findings on the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). This statement, issued by the Wellcome Foundation, has been endorsed by numerous funding agencies, publishing companies, government agencies and scientific organizations from around the world.

View the Statement

Frequently asked questions about the Statement

1. What is required by this Statement?

The statement Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak calls for the rapid and open sharing of research findings and data relevant to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This means ensuring that:

  • all peer-reviewed research publications relevant to the outbreak are made immediately open access, or freely available at least for the duration of the outbreak;
  • research findings relevant to the outbreak are shared immediately with the World Health Organization (WHO) upon journal submission, by the journal and with author knowledge;
  • research findings are made available via preprint servers before journal publication, or via platforms that make papers openly accessible before peer review, with clear statements regarding the availability of underlying data;
  • researchers share interim and final research data relating to the outbreak, together with protocols and standards used to collect the data, as rapidly and widely as possible – including with public health and research communities and the WHO;
  • authors are clear that data or preprints shared ahead of submission will not pre-empt its publication in these journals.

These obligations are in addition to those already set out in the FRQ Open Access Policy for the Dissemination of Research, which applies to all research funded by the FRQ. In particular, this policy requires that:

  • all peer-reviewed manuscripts be made openly accessible (in a journal or institutional or disciplinary repository), no later than 12 months after publication. This obligation implies that peer-reviewed manuscripts that are made openly accessible immediately must remain openly accessible after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
2. Should data sharing be planned in advance?

Planning for the sharing of data prior to data collection is essential in order to implement the requirements of the statement entitled Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In research where it is planned to obtain participant consent for data collection, this consent should include the possibility of large-scale sharing. In research where data will be obtained from third parties (for example, public or private organizations), the conditions for possible large-scale data sharing in the specific context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic should be explored with the third parties, where possible and taking existing constraints into account.

In all cases, it is necessary to verify which ethical or legal standards might be applicable to the possible sharing of research data. Prior consultation with relevant ethics boards or a person knowledgeable in ethics may be advantageous in order to plan appropriate mechanisms for sharing research data and determine whether ethical approvals may be required for the purpose of sharing such data.

3. What data should be shared?

Sharing research data as widely and as rapidly as possible is one of the requirements of the statement entitled Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This includes the sharing of raw data collected during research. This means considering, for example, the sharing of some data pertaining to symptoms, genetic analysis or individuals’ geographic location.

In all situations, the sharing of research data must be done in accordance with the law, ethical approvals, and the confidentiality and consent of participants. Consequently, mechanisms appropriate to the sensitivity of the research data could be put in place to regulate sharing. This could include aggregating some data at the time of sharing or excluding from sharing information that could identify participants.

However, some research data may not be shared, including:

  • “directly identifying information”, i.e. information that identifies a specific individual through direct identifiers (for example, name or health insurance number), and;
  • data obtained from third parties (for example, public or private organizations) and subject to limitations on sharing. This could include, for example, data from certain government databases or data obtained with the authorization of the Commission d’accès à l’information.
4. What grants are covered by this Statement?

Individuals who receive funding from the FRQ specifically on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) must adhere to the principles of the statement entitled Sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This will be specified in the award letters sent to projects subject to this requirement. Funding recipients, managing institutions and ethics boards may refer to the award letter to check whether they are affected.

If you have any questions, please contact Emmanuelle Lévesque, Research Ethics Advisor:

514 873-2114 ext. 4280 or emmanuelle.levesque@frq.gouv.qc.ca.