Open Science in the Horizon Europe funding programme: what to expect?

Without the slightest doubt, I think, we are all ready to let 2020 go and look forward to something different to come. In this forward-looking spirit, sharing information about the coming EU funding framework seems to be an appropriate topic for the last DARIAH Open post in 2020. As such, we are going to have a look at how Open Science is taking shape in the nascent Horizon Europe funding programme for 2021-2027, what to expect and what are the major changes compared to the previous funding programme, Horizon 2020

Open Science in Horizon Europe – key changes (preview)
Open Access mandate is extended to books and other long form publications

Immediate Open Access, no more embargos, fees for publications in hybrid venues are not reimbursed

Information should be provided about all the other scholarly objects, tools and instruments  that are needed to validate the conclusions of the publication


Responsibly open data sharing mandate via trusted repositories

Emphasis on FAIR research data management and DMPs, just like in H2020, RDM costs are eligible for reimbursement

Open Research Europe – a new Open Access Publishing Platform for H2020/Horizon Europe beneficiaries 

Schedule & sources 

The new Horizon Europe (HE) regulation and the HE Model Grant Agreement are expected to come into force in April 2021. Although the official release of the final Model Grant Agreement is expected only in early 2021, the European Commission’s official communication on the new funding programme gives us detailed insights on how open research mandates are likely to take shape in HE. 

The information below is collected from 4 main sources: 

  • A Stakeholders meeting on OA and SSH in Horizon Europe in Brussels in February 2020; 
  • The “Stakeholder workshop: Novelties in Horizon Europe MGA”  on the 9th of October  (Here you can access the recording. Special thanks to Jeroen Bosman who spared me a lot of time by pointing out that the Open Access and Open Science discussion takes place  between 2:53-3:03.) 
  • The Plan S panel of the OPERAS conference, where EC Policy Officer Victoria Tsoukala gave a presentation about Open Access to long forms of scholarship in HE. 
  • Plus the social media coverage of these events. 

I owe special thanks to Dagmar Meyer, Victoria Tsoukala and Jennifer Edmond for their comments on an earlier draft of this post. 

The scope of Open Access

(Screenshot from slides presented at the Stakeholder workshop: Novelties in Horizon Europe MGA.)

The chart above sums up the evolution of the EC’s Open Science policy across funding programmes. 

Open Access mandate is extended to long form publications such as books: Before going into details, let me highlight an important change that has the biggest significance for the SSH domains: that is, the full inclusion of  monographs and other long forms of scholarship can be expected under the HE Open Access mandate. [1] Although many details are yet unclear (e.g. whether this will be achieved through BPCs only or also through direct investments in publicly owned publishing infrastructure), this is a big step forward [2], especially compared to other funders’ mandates (such as Plan S), where Open Access publishing of books is usually swept aside or saved for later due to its inherent and sometimes quite complex deviations from that of journal articles, which are still considered as the mainstream units of scholarly communication. Keeping an eye on the incremental changes this new policy might bring in the OA book landscape as well as supporting the scholarly networks around DARIAH to comply with this genuinely inclusive OA mandate are absolute priorities for us in the near future. 

Immediate Open Access, no more embargos: Another change to expect  in HE’s OA policy is that the 6 or 12 months embargo period of H2020 is eliminated from HE: peer-reviewed scholarly publications stemming from HE projects must be immediately made available Open Access in a trusted repository (green OA) with PID and good quality metadata coming with a CC BY (or CC BY NC / ND / NC-ND for long-form publications). In addition to the open deposition, publishing Open Access (gold or diamond OA) is highly encouraged (publication in closed or hybrid venues will not be banned, but those  fees will not be eligible for reimbursement). 

Publication in full Open Access venues: It is expected that publication fees for publications in hybrid venues will not be eligible for reimbursement. 

Intellectual property rights stay with the authors/beneficiaries: In alignment with Plan S, beneficiaries/authors must retain the IPRs of their publications to comply with the OA mandates. (“Authors/beneficiaries must retain enough rights for open access.”)

(Screenshot from slides presented on the Stakeholder workshop: Novelties in Horizon Europe MGA.)

Going beyond Open Access, embedding Open Science practices more thoroughly

Apart from the new OA mandate, we can see a generic shift to open bigger windows to the research processes rather than focusing only on the traditional end-products of funded projects. 

Scholarly transparency: Information should be provided via a repository about all the other scholarly objects, tools and instruments  that are needed to validate the conclusions of the publication. An interesting question is whether this will facilitate the long-desired inclusion of these digital scholarly outputs to the academic tenure criteria. 

Research Data Management and responsible data sharing will be a mandatory part of HE projects: The open data and RDM pilots started in H2020 and FAIR data sharing in trusted repositories supported by data management planning are now expected to be default components of the funding program. It is expected that the model grant agreement will be complemented by DMP guidelines and templates. Further, RDM costs will be eligible for reimbursement. It is yet an open question whether this is restricted to the project lifetime only or could also include long-term data management costs, or instead, beneficiaries will be supported by central services dedicated for this purpose. 

As always, both Open Access and Open Data policies come with the traditional safeguard measure of “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” , that is, deviations from these mandates are possible due to ethical or legal considerations or due to other legitimate interests. 

(Screenshot from slides presented on the Stakeholder workshop: Novelties in Horizon Europe MGA.) 

In 2021, DARIAH will continue supporting our communities to see the values in these new mandates and make compliance easier and well aligned with the cultural, conceptual and epistemological complexity of research data in the arts and humanities. 

Open Research Europe – a new Open Access Publishing Platform for Horizon beneficiaries 

Unlike cOAlition S, the European Commission very likely will not negotiate with publishers regarding the fees asked for Open Access publishing. Instead, they made direct investment in infrastructure and are building a new Open Access Publishing Platform – Open Research Europe which will be at disposition for beneficiaries of H2020/HEurope with pre-publication and transparent open peer review. Beneficiaries from all disciplines can publish their Horizon-related outputs free of charge.

The platform will be formally launched in March 2021 but is already open for submissions. Here you can take a look at the Scientific Advisory Board. We are especially glad to see Patrik Svensson, Chair of the DARIAH Scientific Board among them. 

Who is building Open Research Europe?
The contract has been awarded to f1000. Founded in 2000, acquired by Taylor and Francis in January, 2020, f1000 have been a pioneer in building a transparent publication environment that successfully puts into practice many components of openness (open publishing workflows, open peer review, overlay platform, versioning, rich metadata, transparency in contributor roles, interlinking publications with other digital scholarly objects, going beyond the PDF and publishing in XML etc.). The only caveat in the f1000 architecture that is worth mentioning in the context of Arts and Humanities research is that the platform had been designed for journal articles and this may pose challenges for the integration of book publishing in the future. 

Alongside with open peer review, the major novelty and innovation of the platform is that it breaks up with the idea of scholarly journals and allows individual contributions to be assessed, evaluated, disseminated and cited on their own, without the container-level proxy of journal prestige. On the other hand, journals do not only serve as orientation points for Impact Factor and other prestige indicators but also play an important role in contextualizing the many kinds of scholarship and establish forums for specific scholarly communities. Their function of structuring the scholarly discourse and building thematic hubs seems to be even more important in Arts and Humanities fields where having a central forum, such as Nature or, thinking in terms of Open Access, Plos ONE have never emerged, all probably due to the dominance and great diversity (or, in a different framing, fragmentation) of smaller disciplines that are embedded in specific local and linguistic contexts. Speaking of domain-specific publishing practices, books and book chapters are not yet integrated with Open Research Europe. 

In 2021, we are going to keep an eye on how the platform develops, how Arts and Humanities scholarship will inhabit it, and how it innovates and brings more transparency and scholarly community control  in scholarly communication. 

For further information about Open Science in Horizon Europe, see Victoria Tsoukala’s slides presented at the PubMet 2019 conference: Victoria Tsoukala, 2019. Fit for Purpose! Shaping Open Access and Open Science Policies for Horizon Europe.

[1]  In H2020, the OA mandate had in general been restricted to peer reviewed journal articles, see p. 249 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement (V5.2 – 26.06.2019).

[2] It is worth to note here that long forms of scholarship  had already been integrated to ERC’s Open Access mandate, see the ERC specific annotations to Art 29.2 in the Annotated Grant Agreement  page 396.

Cite this article as: Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra, "Open Science in the Horizon Europe funding programme: what to expect?," in DARIAH Open, 17/12/2020, https://dariahopen.hypotheses.org/968.


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1 Response

  1. 15/01/2021

    […] Horizon Europe – Open Access NWO Plan S Implementation Guidelines KNAW Webinar Implementation of Plan S Nine routes towards Plan S compliance Open Access policies for Dutch researchers What will change in Horizon Europe? Open Science in Horizon Europe: what to expect?Open-Access.nl […]

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