HSF Open Access to Research Outputs Policy: Guidelines


The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada's (HSF's)1 mission is to lead in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy. To that end, HSF is committed to enhancing the application of research results. By adopting this policy, HSF expects that the cutting edge research we fund will be freely accessible and useable for the international research community, policymakers, health care administrators, clinicians, and the public.
Facilitating knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) is fundamental to achieving our mission. With the advent of the Internet, the way that science and research are communicated has been transformed. Globally, there is a move to Open Access publication, enabling researchers to disseminate knowledge widely. Open Access can be delivered in two ways, which are commonly known as the Gold route and the Green route, described below.
While Open Access publishing is now firmly part of the publishing landscape, it is widely accepted that subscription and open-access models will co-exist for a while yet.2 HSF respects researchers' decisions to publish their research findings in the journals with the highest editorial standards, and which will bring their work to the attention of those most likely to be interested in and use the new knowledge. Moreover, given the current incentive structure, academics understandably prefer to publish in the highest impact journals.

The Gold Route to Open Access

Following the Gold route, the author or author institution pays a fee to the publisher at publication time, the publisher thereafter making the material available free at the point of access.3
Fully Open Access journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself (Budapest Open Access Initiative). Some are subsidized, and some require payment on behalf of the author.
At the same time, a great many high impact science journals are still based on subscription. In conventional publishing, the institution subscribes to the publication channel to obtain electronic access or paper copies.   
However, many subscription-based journals have paid Open Access publishing options. These are known as hybrid journals. 
Whatever the publishing model, publishers or journals fulfill a number of important functions, most importantly peer-review; and also editing, layout, conversion of text into XML coding, and more. These costs will not disappear. The costs associated with producing and distributing Open Access journals are nearly identical to those of non-Open Access journals. Current conservative estimates put these costs at around USD $1500.4

The Green Route to Open Access

In addition, there are inexpensive self-archiving options for making published results openly available-while respecting traditional publishers' restrictions-at the time of submission or after a lag time, usually six to twelve months. Often called the green route to Open Access, this is not equivalent to publishing; instead it allows for the free availability of articles in parallel to any publication system.5

Policy Objective

The objective of this policy is to enhance access of our HSF-funded research to a broad audience. 


HSF adopts the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) definition of research outputs as conceptual or practical knowledge, data, information, and physical or biological materials developed during the course of a research project that are integral for building on research discoveries. CIHR recognizes three categories of research outputs: peer-reviewed journal publications, research materials, and research data. 
In this policy, Open Access means the free online access to scholarly publications, primarily the peer-reviewed journal publication. With Open Access, readers with network access are able to download, copy, share, and distribute publications for non-profit purposes without the barriers, particularly cost, associated with traditional subscription-based models for accessing publications.
Peer-reviewed journal publication means a manuscript for publication in a scholarly journal assessed by peers and deemed to be scientifically and ethically sound.

Guiding Beliefs

In developing this policy, HSF is guided by our Mission and organizational values, from which arise the beliefs that the Heart and Stroke Foundation should:

  • Demonstrate leadership in promoting broad dissemination of research outputs in a timely fashion;
  • Recognize that the Internet has enabled Open Access in ways that have changed forever how information is shared: Open Access is the future.
  • Acknowledge that publication costs are an integral part of the research process. The research is not finished until results have been appropriately disseminated.
  • Align HSF policies with other Canadian and international research funding agencies; and champion Open Access through advocacy.

Application / Compliance

This policy applies to all publications which report work and findings obtained with the support, in whole or in part, of any type of grant awarded June 1 2010 and onward from the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF). HSF also encourages immediate compliance with this policy by researchers publishing work supported by HSF grants received before June 1 2010.
HSF recognizes that there may be reasonable limitations and exceptions to compliance. However, researchers are expected to make every effort to comply and must notify HSF staff immediately when there are exceptions or limitations.

Policy Statement

The Heart and Stroke Foundation requires that all researchers supported in whole or in part through the Heart and Stroke Foundation make their research outputs publicly available as soon as possible, but no later than twelve months after the final publication or availability of final results. 
In this policy, HSF defines research outputs as peer-reviewed journal publications, research data, and the results of clinical trials that will not be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication

HSF grant recipients are required to ensure that the full text of all final peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted for publication are freely accessible through the Publisher's website or an online repository within six months of publication date.
There are two ways to adhere with this policy:
  1. Submit your manuscript to a journal that offers immediate Open Access, or automatically deposits published papers in PMC with an embargo period of six months or less or offers Open Access to the paper on its website within six months of publication.
  2. Author self-archiving: Deposit the peer-reviewed manuscript or published paper in (in order of preference):
    • PubMed Central (PMC) Canada or any PMC International site
    • A subject-specific repository
    • Your institutional repository
    • Your personal or research group website 
Grant recipients must acknowledge HSF contributions in all peer-reviewed publications.

Research Data

Additionally, grant recipients are required to deposit bioinformatic, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results.

Clinical Trial Results that will not be Published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal

As a member of the Health Charities Coalition of Canada (HCCC), HSF subscribes to the HCCC Position Statement on Registration of Clinical Trials (May 2006). Integral to this position is the belief that selective reporting violates essential values and principles. 
In order to adhere with this policy:
  • Preferably, post the final results on the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) Register (www.controlled-trials.com), or ClinicalTrials.gov or a pharma or industry website within six months of completion of the trial.
  • Alternatively, deposit (archive) the final trial results report in your institutional repository or personal website within six months of completion of the trial.
Researchers are required to notify the Heart and Stroke Foundation when results have been posted.

Publication Costs

HSF covers expenses that researchers reasonably may incur related to publishing in Open Access or hybrid scholarly journals. 
For the most part, requests for all types of publication costs should be fully justified in the budget of the original grant application. However, policies for how publication costs are managed may differ across provincial Foundations. For Grant-in-Aid or other provincial Programs, researchers must contact the Foundation involved. 

Monitoring and Adherence

By accepting HSF funds, grant recipients accept the terms and conditions of the grant or award as set out in this and other published policies and guidelines. In the event of an alleged breach of HSF funding policy, HSF may take steps to deal with the allegation. 


HSF will advocate, through the Health Charities Coalition of Canada, to advance Open Access publishing. This includes putting pressure on non-compliant journals to allow for public availability within six months and pursuing strategies to decrease Open Access publishing costs.   

HSFC and HSF refer to the entire Federation of provincial/territorial Foundations. 
2 Corbyn, Zoë and Reisz, Matthew. Learning to share 12 November 2009. Available at Times Higher Education: 
3 Jeffery K. 2006. Open Access: An Introduction. ERCIM News 64. Available at: http://www.ercim.org/publication/Ercim_News/enw64/jeffery.html
4www.research-matters.net: The RM Knowledge Translation Toolkit: A Resource for Researchers [International Development Research Centre (IDRC)and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)] 
Jeffery K. 2006.

Appendix 1: Resources

Examples of research outputs and corresponding publicly accessible archive, repository or database
Peer-reviewed journal publications: Publicly accessible archive or repository
PubMed Central
Institutional Repositories at Canadian Universities
Directory of Open Access Repositories (International)
Research data Public database or archive
Nucleic acid sequences GenBank
Gene expression data Gene Expression Omnibus
Structure data Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) Protein Data Bank
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Database
Molecular interaction data See International Molecular Exchange Consortium (IMEx) Partners
DNA and clinical data related to the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC). dbMHC
Proteomics data*
[European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)]
[Institute for Systems Biology (ISB)]
* Given that proteomics is a burgeoning field, standards for data storage and deposition are still in development. Therefore, CIHR-funded investigators that are generating proteomics data are encouraged to deposit their trace files in one of the three Open repositories. CIHR will follow the trends in this field and update this table as necessary.