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Howard Hughes Medical Institute joins Plan S open-access initiative

Initiative reinforced by largest private biomedical research institution in the United States

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has aligned its publishing policies with Plan S, an international but primarily European initiative in which research funders and institutions will require research papers they have supported to be made openly available immediately from 2021.

The HHMI, which is the largest private biomedical research institution in the United States, with more than 2,300 employees and an annual research spend of more than $750 million, announced its move on 1 October. 

It said it would require all of its laboratory heads to make their research articles freely available on the day of publication under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY).

“Science is critically dependent on access to the information, data and ideas contained in published primary research articles,” said HHMI president Erin O’Shea. “We believe we can best advance HHMI’s mission, including the discovery and sharing of new scientific knowledge, by sharing new science freely and immediately.”

Robert Kiley, who coordinates the group of funders signed up to Plan S and is head of open research at the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based philanthropic funder of biomedical research, welcomed the news. “By aligning its open-access policy with Plan S, HHMI is making clear that the research articles which arise from their support must be accessible and reusable to all,” he said, adding that “there are huge societal challenges ahead of us and making research open access will help address them head-on”.

Other Coalition S members include the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The European Commission is aligning EU R&D funding with Plan S.