The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy: How the Library Can Help

Scholarly Publishing and Open Access plus a stylized book with the open access symbol

The Policy

The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications applies to all NSERC and SSHRC funded grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onwards. Only publications resulting from grants awarded after this date are affected by the new policy. CIHR’s existing Open Access Policy mandates open access compliance for research funded in whole or in part by CIHR after January 1, 2008.

The harmonized Tri-Agency policy requires that all peer-reviewed journal publications resulting from funding by the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) must be freely available online within 12 months of publication.

Policy compliance options

To comply with the Tri-Agency Policy, you must either archive or publish as follows:

Open Access Green: Archive the post-print or published version

Open access - green

(Open Access Green) Archive the post-print or the published version in an institutional or subject repository. The SFU Library can work with you or on your behalf to deposit your articles in Summit, SFU’s Research Repository.


Open Access Gold: Publish in an Open Access journal

open access - gold

(Open Access Gold) Publish in an Open Access journal. Librarians can help you identify high-impact scholarly open access (OA) journals, which are subject to the same rigorous peer review that subscription-based academic journals are.
See How do I assess a publisher, journal, or conference? for details on selecting a high-quality publisher for your work.
Some gold open access journals charge open access fees to cover publishing costs.  These fees are eligible expenses in Tri-Agency grants. See Open access funding and grant proposals for more information about including open access costs in your grant applications.

Note:  Recipients of graduate scholarships and fellowships are not required to adhere to the policy, although the Agencies encourage open access to all research publications.

Publishing considerations

Publishing considerations flow chart - see outline after image

Publisher Considerations Flowchart Description

  1. Choose your journal.
  2. Understand the journal’s policy on copyright.
    For help:
    Contact your Liaison Librarian.
    Visit the journal publisher’s website.
    Use SHERPA/RoMEO to understand author retained rights.
  3. Does the journal allow article archiving within 12 months of publication?
    1. If yes, deposit in SFU’s institutional repository, Summit, or deposit the article in a subject repository (e.g. arXiv)
  4. Is the journal open access or a hybrid journal?
    1. If yes, include adequate funding in your grant application to cover article processing charges.
    2. If no, use an author addendum to allow article archiving within 12 months or negotiate the terms of the copyright transfer agreement or, choose another venue to publish your article.


Open Access
Publications that are free to read on the Internet. Readers can download, copy, and distribute an Open Access publication, as long as credit is given to the authors.

Open Access Gold
Journals in which readers do not require a subscription or any other form of payment, either personally or through their university or library, to access the content. e.g. PLoS Biology

Open Access Green
Refers to self-archiving (typically, of articles published in conventional subscription-based journals) in a subject or institutional repository.

Research/Institutional Repository
An online collection of the scholarship of an institution’s researchers. Institutional repositories both preserve the intellectual output, and allow for wide distribution. SFU’s institutional repository is Summit. Institutional repositories are also called research repositories.

Subject Repository
An online collection of publications in a particular subject area. The repository collects, preserves and provides open access to the publications. Examples include arXiv, RePEc, and PubMed Central. Subject repositories are also called disciplinary repositories.

Post-print, Version of Record, Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), Post Peer Reviewed Manuscript
Terms used to describe the accepted version of an article after peer-review, with revisions having been made.

Article Processing Charge (APC)
A fee levied by an open access publisher to cover costs associated with publication. Fees can range from $200 to $5000 or more per article.

Author Addendum
A legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement and allows you to keep rights to your article(s). E.g. SPARC Canadian Author Addendum.

Hybrid Journal
A journal in which only selected articles are openly available to readers without a journal subscription. Hybrid journals require that authors pay an ‘unlocking’ fee, referred to as an article processing charge (APC).

Open Access Fund (OA Fund)
SFU lead authors can apply to SFU Library’s central OA fund to cover article processing charges (APCs) of entirely Open Access publications in cases where their funding agency does not cover these charges.