NSF Releases Public Access Plan 2.0 on Ensuring Access to Federally Funded Research
NSF Releases Public Access Plan 2.0 on Ensuring Access to Federally Funded Research

June 2023

During the week of June 5, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released its Public Access Plan 2.0. The plan provides initial guidance for federally funded principal investigators regarding implementation of the 2022 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.”

The OSTP memorandum updated the timeline for making available publications and data resulting from federally funded research to “immediately upon publication,” from what was previously a 12-month embargo. Federal agencies have until December 31, 2025, to make publications and accompanying data from federally funded research publicly available. The implementation of NSF’s updated public access requirements will go into effect no later than January 31, 2025.

“We are pleased to see NSF’s first steps in implementing the OSTP public access memorandum and its outreach to the scientific community to gather input as the agency moves forward,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We look forward to working with NSF toward implementation of publication public access and data sharing policies that enable scientific progress while also focusing on equitable access.”

The NSF Public Access Plan 2.0 will continue the requirement for NSF principal investigators to upload the manuscript version of record or author-accepted manuscript from peer-reviewed publications into the NSF Public Access Repository, using the new timeline of “immediately upon publication.” In addition, PIs will be required to make juried conference proceedings publicly accessible, including individual peer-reviewed papers resulting from an NSF award to a conference and, in the case of a conference award, the peer-reviewed proceedings or workshop report in its entirety. Juried proceedings are not currently subject to NSF’s public access requirements.

NSF is also considering expanding public access requirements to include non-juried conference proceedings, book chapters, and other research outputs that are included in PI project reports.

Public Access Plan 2.0 will update procedures for sharing data and developing data management and sharing plans (DMSPs) for NSF grants. Currently, PIs have the option to share data from peer-reviewed publications supported by NSF funding. Under the updated plan, PIs would be required to share such data. However, the requirement would be waived under several conditions, including if the data are proprietary or otherwise restricted; if there are IRB restrictions on data access, use, or disclosure; or if NCSES (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics) data are subject to restricted-use or confidentiality agreements.

NSF will also require details regarding data management; plans for how the data produced will be shared publicly and with other researchers; and anticipated repositories for the data, on condition that costs associated with the chosen repository are reflected in the proposal budget request. Some considerations that NSF is exploring include whether plan requirements can or should be harmonized across the agency while still providing for program-level specifications; whether the agency should provide additional guidance to researchers regarding data repositories and costs; and whether additional tools are needed for developing and reviewing DMSPs by review panels and NSF program directors.

Throughout June, NSF is offering webinars focused on specific scientific communities, including one for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and STEM Education that took place on June 2. An additional webinar co-sponsored by NSF and the American Association for the Advancement of Science focused on equity and early-career scholars will be held on June 30.

NSF is planning to release a Request for Information that will seek feedback on implementation plans for the updated Public Access Plan. Any final requirements will be included in an updated version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

AERA has long been involved in issues related to public access to research and data from federally funded research:

  • May 2020: AERA submitted comments in response to OSTP request for information on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research.
  • December 2019: AERA joined a coalition of 60 scientific organizations on a letter urging stakeholder involvement in response to potential changes to the federal government's open access policy.
  • May 2013: AERA released a statement on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D Publications.
  • January 2012: AERA responds to OSTP Request for Information (RFI): “Public Access to Peer‐Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting from Federally Funded Research.”
  • January 2012: AERA responds to OSTP Request for Information (RFI): “Public Access to Digital Data Resulting from Federally Funded Scientific Research.”