Secondary Publishing Rights – New Position Statement from Knowledge Rights 21

In a landmark  development, the Biden Administration announced on the 25th of August that all federally funded research[1] should be made “freely available and publicly accessible” immediately after its publication. The policy comes into force by the end of 2025.

The case made by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for immediate access to research in specified repositories is empathically public interest and innovation-focused: “When federally funded research is available to the public, it can improve lives, provide policymakers with important evidence with which to make critical decisions, accelerate the rates of discovery and translation, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society.”

Coming from the world’s largest research funder, this move from the existing 12-month embargo to a “zero embargo” position has global significance.

Similar developments are also well advanced in Europe. Coalition S, a group of research funders in 15 European countries, has since 2018 been working towards immediate access to the journal articles they fund.

Another, more comprehensive approach has been taken by a number of individual European countries who have established in law the right to republish publicly funded articles irrespective of publisher contracts. Such “secondary publishing rights” – a concept which refers to the right to republish publicly funded research after its first publication in an open access repository or elsewhere – are another key tool for promoting Open Access (OA).

Launched today, Knowledge Rights 21’s position statement on secondary publishing rights supports LIBER’s Zero Embargo campaign and secondary publishing rights model law.

KR21 calls on the national governments of Europe as well as the European Union to introduce secondary publishing laws which enable immediate access to publicly funded research in article or book chapter form.

Knowledge Rights 21 and LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) argue that Secondary Publishing Rights should also cover the right of the author, funder or educational establishment who employs the researcher to give access to the work when it arises from public funds.

Seven European countries have already implemented Secondary Publishing Rights, although unlike the recent US announcement, currently none mandate immediate access. Knowledge Rights 21 and LIBER however believe Secondary Publishing Rights with a zero embargo should become a standard part of the legislative research framework across Europe. Moreover, clear rights for end users who access these articles are a prerequisite – as without knowing what can be done with the research, downstream uses by academics, researchers and innovators can be stymied.[2]

If you want to know more, or better still, get involved in advocating for Secondary Publishing Rights, please contact us at info@knowledgerights21.org.

Download our position paper on Secondary Publishing Rights!


[1] It remains unclear if the announcement covers peer-reviewed books, or whether books are funded by federal research funds. (see footnote 4 of Memorandum.)

[2] Clear end user rights have been identified by the OSTP in the Memorandum Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research (hereafter “Memorandum”. 25/8/2022. “Plans should describe… iii The circumstances or prerequisites needed to make the publications freely and publicly available by default, including any use and re-use rights, and which restrictions, including attribution, may apply.