Open Science

NWO thinks that research results paid for by public funds should be freely accessible worldwide. This applies to both scientific publications and other forms of scientific output. In principle, it must be possible to share the research data with others as well. In this way, valuable knowledge can be utilised by researchers, businesses and civil society organisations. From the context of this vision, NWO asks researchers to publish in a completely Open Access journal (Golden Road) or to deposit the article in a centrally managed, findable database of the university or professional discipline (Green Road). Good research deserves responsible data management. That is why NWO has started a data management pilot in preparation for its future policy.

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Open Access Publishing

Open Access means making the results of scientific research available online and for everyone, regardless of a person's working environment, free of charge and without legal restrictions. Open Access publications appear in Open Access journals or in Open Access books. These days, there is no technical barrier at all to publishing the results of publicly financed research such that everyone can obtain access to it. NWO, along with many other organisations, thinks that we must take advantage of these opportunities.

Developments in the field of Open Access are moving fast. There are more and more high-quality journals in which researchers publish according to Open Access standards. At good Open Access journals, the scientific quality of publications is monitored in the same way as in traditional journals - namely through peer review. Peer review is the process by which scientists (anonymously) evaluate each other's work. Only when colleagues find that an article is of sufficient quality, will it be published.


The State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science has set the objective that by 2018 60%, and by 2020 100% of scientific publications funded with public money must be Gold Open Access. Therefore with effect from 1 December 2015 NWO has tightened its granting conditions in the area of Open Access. Publications emerging from research funded by NWO should be freely accessible to everybody as soon as they are published.

Researchers can publish Open Access in various ways. We make a distinction between Gold (preference of NWO), Green and Hybrid Open Access. These are all variants of the same principle: free access to scientific publications. The three variants are briefly explained below. How researchers can satisfy the NWO conditions with respect to open access and when they can call upon the NWO Incentive Fund Open Access is also detailed.

Gold Open Access

If scientists submit their work to Gold Open Access journals, preferably registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals then as soon as the results published these are accessible to everybody online free of charge. The same applies to books that are immediately published in Open Access form. This form of publishing is called Gold Open Access.

Gold Open Access journals do not have paid subscriptions. The articles in these journals are accessible for everybody. However, some Open Access journals have so-called Article Processing Charges (‘APC’s’). These are costs that the scientists, the research institutes and/or research financiers pay to Open Access publishers for their articles – after evaluation by peer review – to be published. Other models for Gold Open Access are currently being investigated.

Incentive fund

In order to give Gold Open Access an additional boost, NWO has made a supplemental incentive fund available in recent years for researchers who have received NWO funding. On 1 January 2018, NWO will terminate its Incentive Fund for Open Access Publications and Conferences. Until that time, researchers will still have the opportunity to submit requests for these funds. Prior financial commitments made to the fund remain valid.

Hybrid Open Access

Hybrid Open Access journals are subscription journals in which individual articles can be made freely available against extra payment. This free availability can be realised via a payment by the author or via an agreement between the Dutch universities and a publisher. NWO believes that the results being realised by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) in the negotiations with publishers are an important step in the transition to complete Open Access.

N.B. As NWO wants to provide an extra boost in the transition to Gold Open Access, researchers may no longer request support from the Incentive Fund to pay the open access fee for articles in hybrid journals.

Green Open Access

An alternative for the Gold and Hybrid Open Access is publishing in a traditional subscription journal and depositing the article in a so-called ‘trusted repository’ making this immediately accessible. NWO considers all repositories included in the Directory of Open Access Repositories to be ‘trusted repositories’. With this approach publishers can place embargoes on the publisher’s version but they mostly permit direct deposition of the post-review version in the (university) repository. NWO recognises that the deposition of the pre-review version has the disadvantage that several versions of an article will circulate. However, NWO believes that making research results freely available at the moment of publication is an important and necessary next step in the transition to complete Open Access.

Which publications satisfy the NWO conditions?

  • Articles in Gold Open Access journals and books that are available in Open Access form at the moment of publication;
  • Articles in subscription journals that are immediately made freely available via payment by the author or via an agreement between the Dutch universities and the publisher;
  • A version of the publication that is deposited in a trusted repository and that at the moment of publication is immediately available for everybody also satisfies the NWO conditions.

In addition, NWO promotes the establishment of open access journals with peer review, and NWO encourages raising awareness among researchers and publishers on how to publish fully open access business models. In doing so, NWO works closely with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, universities and international partners. NWO also works in close collaboration with many national parties to achieve the objectives set out in the National Plan Open Science. A common goal is to make it possible for all researchers in the Netherlands to publish open access by 2020. NWO participates in Science Europe in order to help promote open access in a European context.

Open Access for data

Speech recordings, completed questionnaires, soil samples, archived documents, traffic counts… scientific research yields loads of valuable information. Open Access for data means that research results are available. Others, primarily researchers, can then re-use the information and are able to verify the conclusions of their fellow researchers since they have access to the underlying data.

Open Access for data does have its challenges. The data must be findable and accessible for people other than the person who collected it and it must be clearly described; so it must be stored in an unambiguous, sustainable manner. NWO is aware that confidential information must be protected. For this reason, the following applies for data in particular: "Open where possible, protected where needed".

To make data that emerges from NWO-funded research as accessible and reusable as possible, NWO has decided to implement the data management policy in all NWO funding instruments with effect from 1 October 2016.

Access to datasets and publications

Good open access to thousands of scientific datasets, e-publications and other research information is offered by the NARCIS database of the institute DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services). In addition, with the online archiving system EASY, DANS offers sustainable access to research data from various disciplines. Scientists can use EASY to sustainably archive and reuse scientific data themselves.

Digital rights

Researchers can discuss with publishers the possibility of issuing a licence instead of transferring the authors' rights for a publication. On the website of SURF, the Collaborative organisation for ICT in Dutch higher education and research there is for more information about digital rights in higher education and research.

Collaboration with partners

If you are working together with companies then your partners might want to exploit the research results. Full public access to the results will therefore not be in their interest. In these cases a careful deliberation of the options available is required. Discuss this within your department or institute, for example with the person responsible for public-private partnerships.