“White House says publications from taxpayer-funded research should be made free to read

“White House announces new US open access policy to Science Research

22 Feb 2013 | 19:25 GMT | Posted by Richard Van Noorden | Category: Policy

In a long-awaited leap forward for open access, the US government said
today that publications from taxpayer-funded research should be made
free to read after a year’s delay – expanding a policy which until now
has only applied to biomedical science.

In a memo, John Holdren, the director of the White House’s Office of
Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told federal agencies to prepare
plans to make their research results free to read within 12 months after
publication.

“The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens
deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax
dollars have paid for,” the memo says. The OSTP also tells agencies to
maximise public access to non-classified scientific data from research
they fund.

The policy applies to all federal agencies that spend more than $100
million on research and development, and is likely to double the number
of articles made public each year. The US National Institutes of Health
has since 2008 required research to be publicly accessible after 12
months. “This new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the
NIH approach exactly, [but] it does ensure that similar policies will
appear across government,” Holdren wrote today in a separate response to
a petition that had been launched in May 2012, urging the president to
require free access to scientific journal articles from publicly-funded
research. (That has gathered some 64,000 signatures.)

The policy has been a long time in preparation, both at the OSTP and at
federal agencies. The OSTP had already asked for public views on the
subject twice, in 2009 and again in 2011. It had been charged with
improving public access to research under a re-authorization of the
America COMPETES Act, in December 2010. Meanwhile, both the National
Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have been
talking to researchers and publishers over the last 18 months about new
public access and data management policies, says Fred Dylla, the
executive director of the American Institute of Physics, a publisher
based in College Park, Maryland.

Federal agencies have been told to provide OSTP with their draft
policies in six months’ time. They are allowed some flexibility, with
the 12-month embargo only a “guideline” – suggesting that different
embargo periods might apply in different disciplines. That is a key
concern for publishers, who also want to know whether federal agencies
will set up repositories of their funded work, rather like the NIH’s
PubMed Central (PMC). Martin Frank, executive director at the American
Physiological Society, argues that PMC has pulled viewers away from
accessing articles on publisher sites, for example.

The White House statement comes a week after a bill, FASTR (‘Fair Access
to Science and Technology Research’) , was introduced into the US
Congress which would require public access to papers just six months
after publication.

Whatever the fate of that legislation, it is now clear that US
public-access policy is taking a different direction to that in the UK,
where government-funded science agencies want authors to pay publishers
up-front to make their work free to read immediately. This immediate
open-access policy involves extra money taken from science budgets to
pay publishers. The NSF’s director Subra Suresh explained to Nature that
he could not justify taking money out of basic research to pay for open
access at a time when demand for the agency’s funding was high.

With both the US and Europe supporting delayed-access to publications,
the UK government looks increasingly isolated in its preference for
immediate open access. That policy is due to come in from 1 April, but
the details are not yet clear. Communication around the policy was
yesterday criticized as “unacceptable” by a House of Lords inquiry.”

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2013/02/us-white-house-announces-open-access-policy.html

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