World Health Organization open access policy

In alignment with Plan S and member of cOAlition S, the World Health Organization open access policy requires all published outputs of its activities to be: 

  • made freely available at the time of publication, with unrestricted access and reuse
  • openly licenced under a CC BY licence

The policy applies to:

  • all articles or chapters that are authored or co-authored by WHO staff, or by individuals or institutions funded in whole or in part by WHO and published by external publishers
  • publications published by WHO

How do I comply?

You must make your work open access via publishing open access in a journal or publishing platform or self-archiving a version of the work (green open access). 

From 1 January 2021, all WHO-authored and WHO-funded articles that are submitted for publication in peer-review journals must be published in an open-access journal or on an open-access platform. WHO will no longer support the costs of hybrid open-access publishing in subscription journals or publication in subscription journals with an embargo period, except in the following cases:

  • subscription journals that have committed to transitioning to full open access by 2024
  • subscription journals that allow authors to deposit their accepted manuscript immediately in a public repository under the terms of the CC BY 3.0 IGO or CC BY 4.0 licence

All articles (version of record or the author-accepted manuscript) must be deposited in Europe PMC or PMC by the official date of publication and published under one of the following licences: 

  • Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Intergovernmental Organization (CC BY 3.0 IGO) licence (for WHO-authored articles); or
  • CC BY 4.0 licence (for WHO-funded articles)

Publishing open access in a journal or publishing platform (gold open access)

Check the publishing open access information page to find out if you are eligible to publish OA in a journal or publishing platform (gold OA), and to make an application for funding.

If the chosen journal is not part of an institutional publisher agreement, where applicable, reasonable article processing charges (APCs) will be covered by WHO for articles published in open-access journals or on open-access platforms that are compatible with the above-mentioned requirements.  

  • WHO invites external entities applying for project support from WHO to include such costs, where appropriate, in their applications.
  • Applicants should not include the costs for APCs for hybrid journals in their grant applications unless the journals concerned meet the above-mentioned requirements, and holders of grants from WHO should not use their grants to pay for these costs.
  • Applicants should also register for and provide their Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) identifier in their applications and link their published research outputs to their ORCID identifier. 
  • WHO will include the open-access publication fees, where appropriate, in its applications to donors for project support.

Self-archiving (green open access)

Publish in a subscription journal and take responsibility for self-archiving the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), including making this version freely available from Europe PMC or PMC, at the time of publication under a CC BY licence.

Chapters in scientific books must be made available in a public repository under a CC BY 3.0 IGO or CC Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 IGO (BY-NC 3.0 IGO) licence as soon as possible after publication, and not more than 12 months after publication.

More information

Further guidance on the policy and achieving compliance is available on our Plan S funder policies page.


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