While funding entities that have open access requirements have seen decent compliance rates, enforcement of such policies has usually been with a light hand. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced nearly 18 months ago that it would start withholding money from those grantees that fail to comply.
While the agency isn’t giving details, Nature indicates it has followed through. It is reporting that both NIH and The Wellcome Trust have delayed grant payments to parties that have not complied with their open access requirements. While NIH could not give numbers (and would not name parties), Wellcome indicated that 63 parties had payments withheld in the last year.
Policy compliance rates have improved since enforcement was instituted. But any single action seems unlikely to lead to 100 percent compliance. Grantees’ home institutions can help by boosting enforcement of their own open access policies (assuming they have them). Four U.K. higher education funders have announced that they will only count open access compliant papers in their assessment exercises starting in 2016. That would likely boost compliance, at least in the U.K. With some in the U.S. Congress still seeking to roll back the NIH public access policy, I’m not expecting U.S. government agencies to follow suit, at least right away.