Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Obama administration wants OA for federally-funded research

The Obama administration is calling for public comments on ways to enhance access to federally-funded research.  From today's announcement:

With this notice, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the Executive Office of the President, requests input from the community regarding enhancing public access to archived publications resulting from research funded by Federal science and technology agencies. This RFI [Request for Information] will be active from December 10, 2009 to January 7, 2010. Respondents are invited to respond online via the Public Access Policy Forum...or may submit responses via electronic mail. Responses will be re-posted on the online forum. Instructions and a timetable for daily blog topics during this period are described at [the White House Open Government Initiative web site]....

[T]he Administration is dedicated to maximizing the return on Federal investments made in R&D. Consistent with this policy, the Administration is exploring ways to leverage Federal investments to increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness. The results of government-funded research can take many forms, including data sets, technical reports, and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, among others. This RFI focuses on approaches that would enhance the public's access to scholarly publications resulting from research conducted by employees of a Federal agency or from research funded by a Federal agency....

The Executive Branch is considering ways to enhance public access to peer reviewed papers arising from all federal science and technology agencies. One potential model, implemented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)...requires that all investigators funded by the NIH submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript upon acceptance for publication no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. Articles collected under the NIH Public Access Policy are archived in PubMed Central and linked to related scientific information contained in other NIH databases....

The NIH model has a variety of features that can be evaluated, and there are other ways to offer the public enhanced access to peer- reviewed scholarly publications. The best models may [be] influenced by agency mission, the culture and rate of scientific development of the discipline, funding to develop archival capabilities, and research funding mechanisms....

Input is welcome on any aspect of expanding public access to peer reviewed publications arising from federal research. Questions that individuals may wish to address include, but are not limited to, the following (please respond to questions individually)....[PS: Here omitting the nine questions; but anyone submitting a comment should read and address them.]


  • This is big.  We already have important momentum in Congress for FRPAA.  The question here is about separate action from the White House.  What OA policies should President Obama direct funding agencies to adopt?  This is the first major opening to supplement legislative action with executive action to advance public access to publicly-funded research.  It's also the first explicit sign that President Obama supports the OA policy at the NIH and wants something similar at other federal agencies.
  • Don't forget that FRPAA has to stand in line behind healthcare reform, financial regulation, and climate change.  This is the perfect time to open a new front from the executive branch.  Also don't forget that the federal funding agencies belong to the executive branch and are subject to executive order.
  • Comments are due January 7.  Please write one and spread the word, not necessarily in that order.  As far as I can tell, comments from non-citizens addressing the nine questions are as welcome as comments from US citizens. 
  • You can be sure that the publishing lobby will be writing comments.  It's vital that the research community be heard as well, loud and clear.

Update.  For those who want to post their comment(s) to the forum (rather than by email), and/or follow the discussion at the forum, the discussion has begun at the OSTP blog.

Update (1/11/10).  The deadline for comments has been extended until January 21, 2010.