President Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on February 22, 2013 issued a memo directing Federal agencies with over $100 million in extramural research expenditures to develop a plan to support free public access to federally funded, unclassified, scientific research results. Agencies affected by this policy include the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health-NIH), the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the National Science Foundation, to name a few. The memo from OSTP Director John P. Holdren addresses strategies that each agency must include for both scientific publications and digital scientific data.
Strategies include improving access; optimizing innovative search and retrieval features; notifying awardees about and enforcing compliance; and providing a timeline for implementation. The plans would ensure full access to metadata and a reference to the published article. The full text of the article may not be made available in the database for a full 12-month period.
While not stated in the memo, the recommended 12-month embargo period addresses publishers’ concerns that full and immediate access to publications impedes their ability to reap economic rewards through journal subscriptions. Other issues addressed in this memo relate to strategies for protecting copyright and intellectual property rights, and prevention of unauthorized mass redistribution of scholarly publications. The OSTP reports the policy was written with input from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public.
This plan builds upon the 2008 NIH Public Access Policy but also addresses access to digital data. The NIH Public Access Policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts to PubMed Central. UT Health Science Center researchers must comply with this policy if they have received funding directly from the National Institutes of Health, or indirectly through NIH agencies or a CTSA institution such as the UT Health Science Center’s Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS). The researchers and the public benefit from open access to taxpayer-funded medical research and discovery that can be translated into quality patient care. The OSTP policy ensures that taxpayer-funded research in all areas will be freely available and preserved for long term use.
Jonquil D. Feldman
Director, Briscoe Library and Outreach Services