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OSTP widens public access to federally funded research

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The direct results of unclassified federally funded research--peer-reviewed publications and data--should be available to the public typically after a 1 year embargo period, says the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

OSTP released Feb. 22 a memo (.pdf) directing agencies with annual extramural research and development budgets of more than $100 million to submit plans within the next 6 months for ensuring that the public can read, download and analyze in digital form without charge final manuscripts generally 12 months after publication in a professional journal. Individual agencies should use the 1 year period as a guideline but can tailor their plans as necessary, the memo says. Stakeholders may also petition for changing the embargo period for a particular scientific field.

The length of the waiting period has already garnered subdued criticism, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation applauding the memo, but noting that recently introduced legislation called the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research (H.R. 708) would make the embargo period no longer than 6 months.

In a response to an online White House petition calling for a public access policy for federally funded research, OSTP head John Holdren says the Feb. 22 memo is meant to strike a balance between access and "the need to ensure that the valuable contributions that the scientific publishing industry provides are not lost."

Agency plans should also avoid creating a "significant negative impact on intellectual property rights, innovation, and U.S. competitiveness," the memo says.

For more:
- download the Feb. 22 memo on increasing access to the results of federally funded scientific research (.pdf)
- read a statement on the memo from the National Science Foundation and other federal scientific agencies
- read the EFF reaction

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