1) OSTP Issues Guidance to Make Federally Funded Research Freely Available Without Delay [press release]
Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) updated U.S. policy guidance to make the results of taxpayer-supported research immediately available to the American public at no cost. In a memorandum to federal departments and agencies, Dr. Alondra Nelson, the head of OSTP, delivered guidance for agencies to update their public access policies as soon as possible to make publications and research funded by taxpayers publicly accessible, without an embargo or cost. All agencies will fully implement updated policies, including ending the optional 12-month embargo, no later than December 31, 2025.
This policy will likely yield significant benefits on a number of key priorities for the American people, from environmental justice to cancer breakthroughs, and from game-changing clean energy technologies to protecting civil liberties in an automated world.
For years, President Biden has been committed to delivering policy based on the best available science, and to working to ensure the American people have access to the findings of that research. “Right now, you work for years to come up with a significant breakthrough, and if you do, you get to publish a paper in one of the top journals,” said then-Vice President Biden in remarks to the American Association for Cancer Research in 2016. “For anyone to get access to that publication, they have to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to subscribe to a single journal. And here’s the kicker — the journal owns the data for a year. The taxpayers fund $5 billion a year in cancer research every year, but once it’s published, nearly all of that taxpayer-funded research sits behind walls. Tell me how this is moving the process along more rapidly.” The new public access guidance was developed with the input of multiple federal agencies over the course of this year, to enable progress on a number of Biden-Harris Administration priorities.
“When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society,” said Dr. Alondra Nelson, head of OSTP. “The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research.”
This policy update builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader efforts to broaden the potential of the American innovation ecosystem by leveling the playing field for all American innovators, which can help ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in science and technology. This policy guidance will end the current optional embargo that allows scientific publishers to put taxpayer-funded research behind a subscription-based paywall – which may block access for innovators for whom the paywall is a barrier, even barring scientists and their academic institutions from access to their own research findings. In addition, agencies will develop plans to improve transparency, including clearly disclosing authorship, funding, affiliations, and the development status of federally funded research – and will coordinate with OSTP to help ensure equitable delivery of federally funded research results and data.
Advocates, researchers, academic libraries, Congressional leaders, and others have long called for greater public access to federally funded research results. This policy update reflects extensive public engagement with stakeholders across the research publication ecosystem on ways to strengthen equitable access to federally funded research results. OSTP’s consultations have included large and small science and academic publishers, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, libraries and universities, scholarly societies, and members of the general public.
In the short-term, agencies will work with OSTP to update their public access and data sharing plans by mid-2023. OSTP expects all agencies to have updated public access policies fully implemented by the end of 2025. This timeline gives agencies, researchers, publishers, and scholarly societies some flexibility on when to adapt to the new policies. Over the long term, OSTP will continue to coordinate with federal agencies to ensure that government public access policies adapt to new technologies and emerging needs.
2) Memorandum: Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research
3) Breakthroughs for All: Delivering Equitable Access to America’s Research [OSTP blog]
[T]the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released new policy guidance today to ensure more equitable access to federally funded research. All members of the American public should be able to take part in every part of the scientific enterprise—leading, participating in, accessing, and benefitting from taxpayer-funded scientific research. That is, all communities should be able to take part in America’s scientific possibilities.
Previous public access policy guidance was articulated to federal agencies in the 2013 OSTP Memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research (2013 Memorandum). The 2013 Memorandum provided unprecedented and transformative policy guidance that catalyzed a strong and ever-growing movement across the Nation and world to strengthen public access to research results. Of the over 20 agencies subject to the 2013 Memorandum, all have developed plans and implemented policies according to the provisions. We commend agencies for accomplishing these monumental steps toward a more open and trustworthy government.
Looking forward, there are two important ways in which we will build on the 2013 Memorandum and usher in the next chapter of federal public access:
1. Eliminating the optional 12-month publication embargo for federally funded peer-reviewed research articles. This provision has limited immediate equitable access of federally funded research results to only those able to pay for it or have privileged access through libraries or other institutions. Financial means and privileged access must never be the pre-requisite to realizing the benefits of federally funded research that all Americans deserve.
2. Strengthening the data sharing plans of the 2013 Memorandum by making data published in peer-reviewed research articles immediately available upon publication and other research data available within a reasonable timeframe. As President Biden has said when he was Vice President, data from federally funded research belong to the American public. Providing the data that support findings in scientific papers improves transparency and the ability of others to replicate, and build on, the primary research findings. Public access to federally funded research data also helps to level the playing field across a highly uneven funding landscape between academic disciplines – providing possibilities to scholars, students, and the public for secondary use of data that would otherwise be unavailable. The new guidance makes clear that responsible sharing of data requires agencies to ensure that privacy and security protections are maintained.
Ensuring that all Americans benefit equitably from this important policy change will require time, effort, and collaboration from agencies across the federal government. OSTP is announcing several resources to support this work:
Through the re-chartered National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Open Science (SOS), OSTP is leading a coordination process to ensure that public access policies are accompanied by support for more vulnerable members of the research ecosystem unable to pay rising costs associated with publishing open access articles, such as early stage investigators and researchers from minority serving institutions.
As a critical step in this process, today’s guidance allows researchers to include publication and data sharing costs in their research budget proposals. We are also working with agencies to expand efforts to combat existing inequities in funding: many federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, have launched programs aimed at awarding grants to support early-stage researcher careers as well as increasing the racial and gender diversity of award applicants and the scientific workforce. Additionally, the SOS is exploring incentive structures to recognize institutions and researchers for supporting public access to their publications and data.
As a resource to help better understand potential economic impacts of these policy changes, OSTP also published the report Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy, which was transmitted to Congress today. In order to help publishers and scholarly societies of all sizes with the change, OSTP and the SOS have committed to working alongside them, together with other key stakeholders including researchers, academic institutions, libraries, and other members of the public. Agencies have more than three years to fully implement updated public access plans to ensure this is a responsible and equitable transition.
This policy change lowers the barriers to accessing scientific results that are produced by researchers funded by the federal government and is a major advance to support equity in science. The public access policy of the United States Government should benefit all sectors of society and these updates help to achieve that goal and deliver equitable access to America’s research to foster endless scientific possibilities.
4) CHARTER of the SUBCOMMITTEE ON OPEN SCIENCE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL
5) Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy
Summary: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) submits this report to the Appropriations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022. This report draws on current research and data available and information received through extensive engagement and consultation with diverse stakeholders, including publishers, federal agencies, and other organizations. Building on the status report on federal public access policies submitted by OSTP to Congress in November 2021,2 this report elaborates on the potential economic impact of a change to federal agencies’ public access policies to remove the current 12-month embargo period on making federally funded research publications publicly accessible. OSTP estimates that the total cost of public access to the American taxpayer through investments in research accrues annually on average to between roughly $390 million on the low-end and $789 million on the high-end. This range of costs is relatively small in comparison to the billions of dollars invested each year in research by American taxpayers at less than half a percent, on average.