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Participating in open access

The open access movement is committed to making academic publications and knowledge a common good for humanity.
For the past 25 years, the open access movement has been fighting against the privatization of knowledge by a small number of major academic publishers.

The principle of open access

The idea is to make academic literature available online to be used and reused, free of charge, by anyone. The movement wants to create the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print and link to scholarly publications, without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

To find out more, see the Budapest Open Access Initiative, signed in 2002.


Why and how have these rights been hijacked by major publishers?

"34% profit margin and profitability four times higher than their friends on the London Stock Exchange – welcome to the world of academic publishing! These are the figures for Elsevier, the industry leader, which owns 16% of the scholarly journals published worldwide [...]"

See the video Privés de savoir? [Deprived of knowledge?] (#DATAGUEULE 63) on YouTube


How to get involved

The success of the open access movement depends on the involvement of those in the research community (researchers, institutions, funding bodies and publishers). For researchers, there are two possibilities.


Gold open access: Watch out for hybrid journals

Some subscription-based journals offer authors the option of making their article available free of charge subject to payment of an APC (a model known as Open Choice, Online Open, etc., depending on the publisher). This model should be avoided at all costs because the journal is only available behind a paywall, so institutions are effectively paying twice to access content. In 2019, this model will no longer be covered by funding bodies.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists all fully open access journals.

Green open access: Identifying open archives


Institutional policies on open access

The Institut Pasteur Charter for Open Access to Publications

Institut Pasteur - Charter for Open Access to Publications

The Institut Pasteur aims at reaching 100% of the year's publications in Open Access from 2021 onwards.

With the Charter for Open Access to publications, the Institut Pasteur requires their researchers to:

  • publish in CC-BY and without embargo, either in a native Open Access journal or by applying the rights retention strategy
  • deposit their publications in the HAL-Pasteur open archive

The Charter goes along with a practical guide to answer questions about Open Access and HAL.

The charter was developed as part of a project led by the CeRIS.

Contact: hal-pasteur@pasteur.fr


EU obligation

Publications based on research funded by the EU's H2020 program must be made openly accessible online, free of charge, AND also submitted to an open archive. (Guidelines to the Rules on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Open Access to Research Data in Horizon 2020)

Plan S: new requirements from research funders

In September 2018, a coalition of funders, cOAlition S, joined forces to mandate open access to publications from research funded with their own money.

Its general principles are grouped in Plan S, which requires immediate open access to scientific publications (from 2021).
To allow the reuse of these publications, they must be :

  • under a Creative Commons open license (CC-BY);
  • in Open Access journals, or on Open Access platforms, or in open archives without embargo.

In France, the French National Research Agency (ANR), which is part of the cOAlition S, published its Work Programme 2019. In the section "Open Science: Scientific publications and research data", the ANR requires that "that the full texts of all publications resulting from the projects it funds should be posted in the open archives, directly in HAL or via a local institutional archive".

Open access and legal questions

All too often, scientists are unaware of their rights with regard to publishers, especially when they sign contracts that transfer all their rights over their publications. Creative Commons licenses were introduced to make sure authors can retain their rights when publishing on an open access basis.


Creative Commons licenses

"The licenses proposed by the Creative Commons organization are standard contracts in which authors determine which rights they wish to associate with their publication. Six contracts can be drawn up by combining four basic conditions: attribution, no derivatives, no commercial use and "share alike" (reuse on the same terms as the original contract). They can be applied to any type of work." (source: Inist glossary)



French Act for a Digital Republic

In France, the Act of October 2016 "For a Digital Republic", also known as the Lemaire Act, contains an article (30) which gives scientists the right to deposit their postprint (the author file as accepted for publication but not yet formatted by the publisher) in an open archive. The terms are as follows:

  • At least half of the research must be funded by public funds (taking into account all costs including salaries);
  • The embargo period is limited to six months (in science, technology and medicine).
    This right overrides the contract signed with the publisher.




The SHERPA/RoMEO website provides information about the self-archiving policies of different publishers.

Note that the rights laid down in the French Act for a Digital Republic (described above) take precedence over publisher policies and any contracts signed between publishers and researchers upon publication of a work.


Questions & Answers

What do scientists gain by participating in open access?

Open access gives visibility to scientists' research. The HAL open archive is very well referenced in search engines such as Google and is harvested by the European OpenAIRE portal, in conjunction with H2020-funded research projects. Since May 2017, the PubMed database has provided a link to the HAL open archive if it contains the author's file. With HAL, publications are also archived on a long-term basis in the Centre Informatique National de l'Enseignement Supérieur (CINES).

Is open access compatible with patent applications?

In this respect, open access is the same as any other type of publication: research results should not be published before the patent application has been filed. You can then publish in any type of journal (regardless of whether it is open access).

My articles are already in ResearchGate. What are the advantages of depositing them in HAL as well?

ResearchGate is a commercial platform, and as such it may disappear at any moment. HAL, however, was set up following a national memorandum of understanding; it is a public platform and long-term archiving is guaranteed.

It is also worth noting that some publishers do not authorize the publication of articles via ResearchGate and will request deletion of the PDFs. Several of the articles available on the platform have already been removed by ResearchGate following legal proceedings brought by Elsevier and other publishers in 2017. The HAL-Pasteur moderation team at the CeRIS is responsible for verifying the distribution rights of articles and guaranteeing that scientists' submissions to open archives are legal.

ResearchGate cannot be considered as an article repository; it is primarily a scholarly social network.




Open Science newsletter

Every two weeks, the Open Science newsletter will provide you information and shed light on developments, challenges and new practices in three key areas of Open Science: scientific publishing in the age of Open Access, data and software management and sharing, research evaluation and planning.


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