Monday, March 4, 2013

Making research open to all

I've written before on the important issue of public access to research and data sets that have been supported by public funding. The Obama administration has taken an important step in the direction of expanding access. On February 22 John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, issued a policy statement, available here, instructing federal agencies with research budgets of more than $100 million to make the research results available within 12 months of publication. As the journal Nature puts it:
The policy applies to an estimated 19 federal agencies, which each spend more than US$100 million on research and development. It would roughly double the number of articles made publicly available each year to about 180,000, according to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an open-access advocacy group in Washington DC, which called the memo a “landmark”. Until now, only the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has required its research to be publicly available after 12 months.
You can read Nature's assessment of possible approaches in the US here.

But don't expect things to happen too quickly. The policy statement gives agencies six months to come up with a draft plan, and doesn't specify an implementation date. The new US policy meets what Nature calls the green standard: research results and data sets must be available within one year of publication. The gold standard, which the UK alone is pursuing, is to make research available immediately. You can read more about the issues involved in the difference here.

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