Posted May 2019 (Updated February 2020)

Research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and appearing in peer-reviewed journal publications must be made freely and immediately available for all.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to building a Culture of Health for all in America. Because we believe that research we fund can play a key role in establishing the evidence base for a Culture of Health and improving health, wellbeing, and equity, we expect such research to be shared promptly and broadly when made available in peer-reviewed publications. We have adopted this Open Access policy to enable unrestricted access to and use of all peer-reviewed research funded in whole or in-part by the Foundation. As of July 1, 2019, this policy will be effective for all new grants. Failure to comply with the policy may impact future opportunities for funding from the Foundation.

We believe that providing free, online access to these publications is the most effective way to ensure that research we fund can be accessed, read, and built upon. We also believe that it is the intrinsic merit of a work, and not the title of the publication or the publisher with which that work is published, that should be considered in making funding decisions. Specifically, we:

  • require electronic copies of any Foundation-funded research that has been accepted by a peer-reviewed publication be made available immediately upon release, without any embargo period; and
  • require authors and publishers to license such research publications using the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) (or a substantially similar license to which we agree) so these publications may be freely copied and re-used (for example, for text- and data-mining purposes or creating a translation).

We recognize that there are costs associated with making peer-reviewed research publications available on an Open Access basis. Accordingly, the Foundation allows grantees to include these costs in their grant budgets. For those awards that were awarded before July 1, 2019 and did not include open access-related costs in their budgets, grantees can apply to the Foundation to pay fees (up to $5,000) per publication (maximum of 4 publications) within one year from the end date of the grant in question. If you wish to submit for reimbursement, start the process by sending an email to

More information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Open Access policy and its implications for applicants and grantees can be found in Open Access FAQs, such as:

How do I handle unspent open access fees on a grant that has otherwise ended?

Grants may be closed when only the open access fees remain unspent and all activities, except for peer-reviewed journal publishing activities, are complete, as long as the grantee’s institution:

  1. Allows the funds to be retained to pay for open access fees in a grant that is closed, and
  2. If the actual cost of the open access fees is less than what was budgeted, allows the unspent funds to be used for other purposes that are in accordance with the original signed grant agreement or for other charitable purposes, consistent with the restrictions in the grant agreement. It is expected that the majority of the open access fees approved in the grant budget will be spent for that purpose.

If statements 1 and 2 are not possible, the grantee should request a no-cost extension from the Foundation. The grant will remain open until the peer-reviewed publications are complete and the funds are spent down or, if they remain unused, returned to RWJF.


As part of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) commitment to transparency, to the importance of access to evidence, and to the field of social science research, the Foundation provides public access to RWJF-supported research data that can be used for the purposes of secondary research by other research institutions and/or individuals. Read the RWJF Policy for Data Archiving.