Making Federally-Funded Research Public is on its Way

Note: Links on this page are currently redirecting to an archived version due to the uncertainty around policy at this time. 

On February 22, 2013, John Holdren, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), released a policy memorandum directing all federal agencies with R&D programs in excess of $100 million to develop plans within 6 months that require their federally-funded researchers to make their results freely available to other researchers and the general public within one year of publication. The directive also requires researchers to manage the digital data resulting from their work and make it accessible.

The memo titled “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research” calls for these plans to:

  • Focus on “the direct results” of funding, including final peer-reviewed manuscripts or final published documents, which would have to be made accessible within a 12-month embargo period
  • Include data that could be used to validate research findings
  • Facilitate “easy” public search, access and analysis to these publications and data on a long-term basis
  • Include public access to the metadata used for both publications and data
  • Support proprietary (IP) or confidential information policies as already proscribed by law.

The list of federal agencies affected by this directive likely includes: the ARHQ, CDC, DoD, Department of Education, Department of Energy, EPA, FAA, FDA, FHWA, NASA, NIH, NIST, NOAA, NSF, USAID, USDA, USGS, VA, and the Smithsonian. This list has not been confirmed by the OSTP.

This move was not a surprise to the many researchers who saw the National Institutes of Health 2008 Public Access Policy as a test-bed that would eventually include other agencies. Still, many observers wonder how the logistics of storing and providing access to a potentially vast amount of information will evolve at a time when many of these funders face possible budget cuts. The current directive does not provide any additional funding for expanding research access. The directive is part of a larger OSTP initiative on Promoting Open Data, Open Science, and Open Government.