Open Access Policy FAQs


What is an open access publication?

An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:

  • The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in a digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
  • A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format, are deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seek to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long term archiving.

The above definition was drawn from the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing established at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute on April 11, 2003.

What is the Canadian Cancer Society’s policy on open access?

The Canadian Cancer Society’s policy of open access is as follows:

Effective July 2013, all researchers supported in whole or in part through the Canadian Cancer Society are required to make their published results of Canadian Cancer Society-supported work publicly available. Researchers are encouraged to make their work publicly available as soon as possible, but must do so no later than twelve months after the final publication date. From 2009-2013, open access was required no later than six months after publication.

Why does the Canadian Cancer Society have an open access policy?

Unrestricted public access to research findings is a crucial part of upholding the values and responsibilities of the Canadian Cancer Society as a transparent granting agency for cancer research. Our grants are funded through donations from the public and we have a responsibility to report back to them and to the public on the results of the research they fund. Also, open access allows for the global dissemination of knowledge and promotes research advancement world-wide, which is crucial to the Canadian Cancer Society’s mission.

My research findings/publications are written for a scientific audience. How will the lay public benefit from access to scientific journal articles? Isn’t this something better served by the media?

The media and other public relations vehicles are one way the Canadian Cancer Society communicates to the public about the research we fund. Providing access to the primary scientific literature is another valuable way we can increase our ability to report back to our donors about the research they have funded. An open access policy also benefits the global research community, facilitating greater knowledge sharing between research and the broader health community.

How do I comply with this policy?

There are several ways to comply with the Canadian Cancer Society open access policy:

  • Publish your article in an open access journal that will make articles immediately and freely available on the publisher’s website.
  • Publish in any journal that allows for a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript to be deposited into a freely accessibly, digital archive.
  • Publish in any journal that allows for the article to be made available on the researcher’s personal and/or institutional website.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is an example of an open access journal that allows for all publications to be immediately and freely available online.

It is important to note that the Canadian Cancer Society appreciates the importance of publishing research results in the most widely read and respected scientific journals. In no way is this policy designed to compromise the ability of any researcher supported through the Canadian Cancer Society to publish in these journals.

What is PubMed Central?

PubMed Central is a free digital archive of full-text biomedical and life science journal articles, developed and maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM). PubMed central seeks to preserve and maintain unrestricted access to electronic literature. More information about PubMed Central can be found at: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/about/faq.html

For a list of journals that automatically deposit articles in PubMed Central visit http://publicaccess.nih.gov/submit_process_journals.htm.

What types of papers does this policy apply to?

The Canadian Cancer Society policy of open access applies to all publications that have resulted from support provided by the Canadian Cancer Society. Support may be in the form of a research grant, a program project grant, a major program grant or a personnel award. In each case it is the responsibility of the grantee or awardee to ensure their research findings are published in accordance with this policy.

Will I need to make my previously published, Canadian Cancer Society-supported papers available?

This policy was effective as of July 2013, for all new grants and awards. The Canadian Cancer Society encourages all continuing grantees to find ways to make their research findings publicly accessible. Any Canadian Cancer Society supported publications over 12-months-old have likely been made fully accessible by publishers. From 2009-2013, open access was required no later than six months after publication.

What if a journal is compliant with open access, but does not allow the paper to be made freely available after 12 months after publication?

Researchers are able to submit their work to a journal that does not support public availability within twelve months of the publication date. The Canadian Cancer Society does not wish to compromise the ability of researchers to publish in high-impact journals. However, researchers must inform the Canadian Cancer Society of this limitation and the paper must be made freely available as soon as possible. Please email research@cancer.ca when this issue arises for monitoring purposes.

Will the Canadian Cancer Society pay for any costs associated with adhering to this policy?

The Canadian Cancer Society will provide support for any charges levied by publishers. This expense must be fully justified in the budget of the original grant application.

Who can I contact for more information and/or help?

Any queries about this policy should be directed to research@cancer.ca

Last modified on: December 22, 2015