OSTP Announces Plans to Increase Access to Federally Funded Research
OSTP Announces Plans to Increase Access to Federally Funded Research

OSTP Announces Plans to Increase Access to Federally Funded Research,
AERA Well-Positioned to Weigh In

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum on February 22, 2013, directing all federal agencies with R&D expenditures exceeding $100 million per year to develop plans to increase public access to the results of unclassified, federally funded research. These open-access plans will need to ensure that the public has the ability to read, download, and analyze an electronic version of research published in peer-reviewed journals, either in the form of the final peer-reviewed manuscript or the published document. This open access must be provided within one year of publication. Federal agencies have six months to develop plans tailored to their specific field and mission and submit the plans to OSTP for approval. OSTP’s memorandum also recognized the valuable role of publishers in coordinating peer review and ensuring high-quality scholarly publications, and stressed the importance of not adversely affecting publication opportunities for researchers funded by nonfederal sources.

Public access to knowledge, federally funded or not, has been a priority topic for AERA. The Association has long encouraged data sharing and the use of toll-free links to published articles (see OSTP responses here and here). This past November, AERA also held a conference on Open Access Publishing in the Social Sciences. This working conference brought together representatives from social science associations, libraries, university presses, and publishing houses, as well as researchers, journal editors, and other open access experts to explore issues of central importance in open access publishing and the critical role of social and behavioral science associations in that process.

As AERA Executive Director Felice Levine emphasized, "We in the social and behavioral science community, including education research, appreciate the importance of accessible knowledge just as we are also grappling with how to achieve such ambitions consonant with ensuring resources to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed content that the public can read and rely on. AERA has been playing a leadership role on these issues, and we support continuing a process of meaningful consultation and allowing flexibility for federal agencies in implementing open access policies, as OSTP’s memorandum outlines. Addressing open access well is an opportunity; moving ahead with deliberative and thoughtful steps, an imperative."

AERA will release a report on open access in publishing based on the November conference at the AERA Annual Meeting in San Francisco in April. A symposium on this topic will also be held at the meeting, on April 28. 

The OSTP memorandum follows open access legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), introduced in both chambers on February 14, would also require federal agencies with R&D expenditures exceeding $100 million per year to require open access to the results of federally funded research. But this legislation, unlike the administration’s policy, would require public access to be provided within six months of publication. 

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