The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will require research it funds to be published open access from next year

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Washington, US, has adopted a new policy that requires free, unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research that the foundation funds, including any underlying data sets.

The policy, announced last week, applies to all of the research that the Gates Foundation funds entirely or partly, and will come into effect on 1 January, 2015. Specifically, the new rule dictates that published research be made available under a ‘Creative Commons’ generic license, which means that it can be copied, redistributed, amended and commercialised. During a two-year transition period, the foundation will allow publishers a 12 month embargo period on access to their research papers and data sets.

Many are calling the Gates Foundation’s open access policy the most stringent released to date. Although numerous publishers have open access policies that conflict with this new policy, the Gates Foundation says it is ‘very much in alignment with the open access movement which has gained momentum in recent years’, including policies adopted by UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, US government agencies, and most recently the World Health Organisation.

The Gates Foundation funded more than 2800 research articles in 2012 and 2013, and of those 30% were published in open access journals.