Comparison of ARC & NHMRC policies

Summary of the policies

This is a short summary of the differences and similarities of the ARC Open Access Policy and the NHMRC revised policy on the dissemination of research findings. The exact wording from the policies is included in the full comparison below.

Both policies state they: “… requires that any publications arising from an [ARC/NHMRC] supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication”.

In terms of outputs affected, the ARC policy covers all publication outputs including books, the NHMRC covers journal articles only.

Both policies:


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  • Prefer the deposit of Accepted or Published version into an IR
  • Permit the deposit into a subject repository (linking to the IR)
  • Permit publication in an OA journal (linking to the IR)
  • State that if a publisher doesn’t allow OA, the researcher must say so in the Final Report.

The metadata for the ARC policy needs to be submitted to an IR “as soon as possible after the paper is accepted for publication” while for NHMRC it is to be submitted “immediately upon publication”.

Neither funding body has agreements with Elsevier (as of Oct 2013), this poses compliance challenges (see below).

Neither policy refers to payments for article processing charges. However, both the ARC and the NHMRC do allow some of their grant allocation to be directed to publication costs:

  • For most ARC schemes, (one example is here)  publication and dissemination of Project outputs and outreach activity costs are ‘supported budget costs’.
  • NHMRC rules state: ‘Publication costs cannot be requested on an application but may be listed as a legitimate cost against DRCs as part of the financial acquittal process.’

In terms of timing, the NHMRC relates to any publication after 1 July 2012, regardless of the grant that supported the research, but the ARC policy only affects publications arising from Funding Grants and Rules 2013 – the first publications will not appear in the literature for over a year, after January 2014.

Strengths of these policies

1. Both policies make no restriction on where researchers choose to publish their work

Why this matters: Researchers choose publication outlets for many reasons. Any attempt to control this choice would be met with fierce resistance.

2. Both require deposit of the metadata of ALL work within the policy into an institutional repository as soon as possible after the date of acceptance

Why this matters:

  • It requires that researchers must engage with the repository (to deposit the metadata) even if the publisher does not permit open access.
  • By requiring deposit of metadata around the time of acceptance, it catches the researchers at the point they are most likely to have a copy of the accepted author manuscript version of the work to deposit to the repository.
  • Researchers can be encouraged to deposit the manuscript along with the metadata and leave repository staff to manage any embargoes that may apply.

3. When the work is published the institutional repository makes the full text available (copyright clearance permitting) or links to an open access version

Why this matters: This means that researchers who are making their work available through other open access means, such as publishing in an open access journal or depositing a copy of their accepted version in a disciplinary repository such as, can have a link to that version against the metadata record already in the repository. There is no need for them to also deposit the article into their institutional repository.

4. Compliance will be tracked through a standardised field in institutional repositories which can be harvested

Why this matters: Without tracking there is considerably less incentive to comply with the mandate. Even if there are no ramifications for non-compliance in the first year or two, this type of tracking allows an assessment to be made on the effectiveness and blocks in the implementation of the policy. Tracking research allows for an audit of funded research and the delivery of research outputs to the community.

5. The policies require deposit in institutional repositories

Why this matters: This choice takes advantage of the mature network of open access repositories already in place in Australian institutions. It also avoids any expectation of the funding body or the institutions to pay article processing charges (APC) for publication in open access journals. [Policies which mandate publication in open access journals, particularly when the funder offers to pay APCs, potentially could push up the cost of APCs. This would create an unsustainable financial situation].

Weakness of these policies

1. They do not require grantees to retain rights to allow open access

Why this matters: Currently the rights authors have over published work depends on the policies of the institution in which they work. In some institutions the authors retain the right to allow their work to be made open access. This means that those authors sign copyright transfer agreements retaining their dissemination rights. The alternative is that generally copyright is transferred to publishers who are then able to determine what the author is permitted to do with their article.

Author rights for articles published with Elsevier

Elsevier’s website says “Immediate posting and dissemination of [Accepted author manuscripts] is allowed to personal websites, to institutional repositories, or to arXiv. However, if your institution has an open access policy or mandate that requires you to post, Elsevier requires an agreement to be in place which respects the journal-specific embargo periods.

Elsevier has separate agreements with 22 funding bodies and 10 institutions.

Gold Elsevier OA articles can be deposited in an open access repository as the final published journal article.

Author rights for funded authors publishing with Wiley

Wiley has a funder policy with the ARC & NHMRC stating:

ARC and NHMRC funded authors may self-archive the author accepted version of their paper (authors manuscript) after a 12-month embargo period from publication in an open access institutional repository.  If articles are made open access following payment of an article publication fee, it is not necessary to archive the author’s manuscript, but the metadata must be available in the institutional repository with a link to the published article of record on Wiley Online Library.


Similarities and differences of the exact wording from the policies

Note that the wording of much of the ARC and NHMRC policies is almost exactly the same. Below is a listing of the common wording and the wording that differs between the policies ordered under themes.

Policy requirement

Common wording:

…requires that any publications arising from an [ARC/NHMRC] supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication


the ARC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research supported by ARC funding, in the most effective manner and at the earliest opportunity To maximise the benefits from research, publications resulting from research activities must be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community


Common wording:

It should be noted that the [ARC/NHMRC] is aware of copyright and licensing arrangements currently in place between authors, institutions and publishers. The [ARC/NHMRC] is also aware that institutions and individuals will need to develop mechanisms to ensure compliance with [ARC/NHMRC]’s policy that take into account agreements already in place between authors and publishers

…, taking into account any restrictions relating to intellectual property or culturally sensitive data.
  • NHMRC understands that some researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements initially because of current legal or contractual obligations.
  • …where funds for “gold” open access are not made available, it is unreasonable for funders to mandate open-access embargoes of less than 12 months

Research outputs covered

Common wording:

The [ARC/NHMRC] does not intend to place restrictions on the types of publications that can be included in an institutional repository. The Administering Institution should assist researchers to identify and to capture appropriate information.

If the print version (journal version) of the article is openly accessible via the publisher’s website or via a service such as PubMed Central, it is sufficient to just make the article metadata available in the institutional repository and provide a link to the site where the print version is available.

  • In line with ARC Funding Rules any material published in respect of an ARC-funded research activity must include acknowledgement of ARC’s funding, including the grant identification number. Similarly, it is expected that any material published in respect of an ARC-funded research activity will be included in the institutional repository.
  • …it is expected that any material published in respect of an NHMRC-funded research activity will be included in the institutional repository.

Versions of work

Common wording:

There are numerous versions of the manuscript/article that can be made available via the institutional repository. Both the author’s version of the article (Word document) after peer-review, with revisions having been made and the publisher’s version (for example journal version with final pagination and formatting) are acceptable under this policy.

Policy implementation period

  • The policy will be incorporated into all new Funding Rules and Agreements released after 1 January 2013. It will not be applied retrospectively to pre-existing Funding Rules and Agreements.
  • The policy commences on 1 January 2013, but the first publications are not potentially due to be made available in an institutional repository until after 1 January 2014.
  •  A revised NHMRC policy for the dissemination of research findings came into effect on 1 July 2012.
  • The policy commenced on 1 July 2012, but the first articles are not due to be made available in an Institutional Repository until 1st of July 2013.

Deposit timing

Common wording:

Publication metadata (ie – journal name, title, author list, volume, issue, page numbers etc) must be submitted to the institutional repository as soon as possible after the paper is accepted for publication, no matter when (or if) the paper itself will become openly accessible.

The manuscript/journal article should be submitted to the institutional repository as soon as possible after the publication date. The repository manager will ensure that the manuscript/journal article is made available at a date that complies with the journal’s copyright transfer agreement.


Common wording:

If no institutional repository is immediately available to a Chief Investigator, this will need to be recorded in the grant Final Report. [ARC will/NHMRC may] then discuss the implementation of this Policy with Administering Institutions that do not currently provide researchers with access to a repository

  • · Articles accepted for publication before the 1st of July 2012 but published after this date will be exempt from the revised policy on the dissemination of research findings.
  • NHMRC considers an article ‘accepted’ for publication from the date the article’s author and publisher execute a publication ‘licensing agreement’, or from the date the publisher notifies the author that their article was accepted for publication on condition of the author signing a publication license agreement, whichever comes first.

Responsible people

Common wording:

Compliance with the policy is a matter for the Administering Institution to discuss with the [ARC/NHMRC]—the [ARC/NHMRC] will not routinely check compliance with individual Chief Investigators (CIs).

The [Chief Investigator A (CIA)/ Chief Investigator (CI)] on any given grant will be responsible for providing the publication metadata (ie – journal name, title, author list, volume, issue, page numbers etc) and, as and when it becomes available, the appropriate copy of the publication to the institutional repository (although this may be managed via the institutional research administration office). This is independent of the [CIA’s/CI’s] authorship role (first, last or middle) on a given paper.


Common wording:

If a publication cannot be included in the institutional repository, a justification for its non-inclusion must be provided in the Final Report.

If the journal never allows the article to be made available, this information must be provided at the time of Final Report submission. Institutions may wish to use a publicly available ‘holding note’ to explain that copyright/licensing restrictions prevent inclusion of a particular article on the repository until a specific date.

If the copyright transfer/licence agreement does not allow the article (or manuscript) to be made available within twelve months of the date of publication, it needs to be made available as soon as possible after that date.

The ARC understands that some researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements initially because of current legal or contractual obligations. In these cases, Final Reports must provide reasons why publications derived from a Project, Award, or Fellowship have not been deposited in an open access institutional repository within the twelve month period.  


Complying with mandates

The final version of the Guide to Tagging Institutional Repository Records Related to ARC/NHMRC Grants (March 2014) is now available on the CAUL website. This document was prepared by: Paula Callan (QUT), Mark Gregson (QUT), Kerrie Burn (ACU) and Tony McCall (ACU).


The NHMRC policy was updated on 20 November 2014. The key changes are listed here.

The ARC Open Access Policy was updated on April 21 2015. The updated Policy now specifies that publication metadata should include the ARC Project ID and list the ARC as the funding source, as well as other relevant information. Any future Funding Rules and Funding Agreements will include this requirement.


Published 2 April 2013, last updated 21 April 2015
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7 thoughts on “Comparison of ARC & NHMRC policies

  1. […] So far this blog has been talking about publisher agreements with authors. But some publisher’s agreements state that if authors are publishing research that results from a funder that has an open access mandate, there are different rules. Two very prominent ones have been Elsevier and Wiley. Generally these different rules require a ‘separate agreement’ between the funder and the publisher. There is more information about separate agreements here. […]

  2. […] And while publishing in Open Access journals is a really effective way of maximising your readership, it is also important to note that Open Access publishing is now mandated by certain funding agencies as it is seen as being in the best interests of all stakeholders involved. Open Access publishing of ARC & NHMRC funded outputs is now compulsory. Find out more about these policies from the Australian Open Access Strategy Group. […]

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