White House announces new US open access policy

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In a long-awaited leap forward for open access, the US government said today that publications from taxpayer-funded research should be made free to read after a year’s delay – expanding a policy which until now has only applied to biomedical science.

In a memo, John Holdren, the director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told federal agencies to prepare plans to make their research results free to read within 12 months after publication.

“The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for,” the memo says. The OSTP also tells agencies to maximise public access to non-classified scientific data from research they fund.

The policy applies to all federal agencies that spend more than $100 million on research and development, and is likely to double the number of articles made public each year. The US National Institutes of Health has since 2008 required research to be publicly accessible after 12 months. ”This new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the NIH approach exactly, [but] it does ensure that similar policies will appear across government,” Holdren wrote today in a separate response to a petition that had been launched in May 2012, urging the president to require free access to scientific journal articles from publicly-funded research. (That has gathered some 64,000 signatures.)

Written By: Richard Van Noorden
continue to source article at blogs.nature.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. It always seems to me the ArXiv solves this issue, or at least can if it’s made comprehensive enough. We find everything we want to know on Wikipedia; making ArXiv a repository of all research is the natural way to approach the open access issue in the Internet era. I don’t think it covers all sciences yet, but we could fix that easily, then make sure everyone’s work is uploaded there, either by authors or journals. The ArXiv even gives access to unpublished work. But whenever I hear open access discussed, it seems like no-one even knows of the ArXiv.

  2. In reply to #2 by Jos Gibbons:

    It always seems to me the ArXiv solves this issue, or at least can if it’s made comprehensive enough. We find everything we want to know on Wikipedia; making ArXiv a repository of all research is the natural way to approach the open access issue in the Internet era. I don’t think it covers all sciences yet, but we could fix that easily, then make sure everyone’s work is uploaded there, either by authors or journals. The ArXiv even gives access to unpublished work. But whenever I hear open access discussed, it seems like no-one even knows of the ArXiv.

    Agreed. Really we should just be closing the commercial publishers down. As I’m sure you know the academics do all the serious work anyway: the research, the refereeing and the editorial work. Typically for zero pay. But no government seems to be willing to take that fight on. I’ve been following the discussions in the UK and the government, and the media, seemed to have been conned by the publishers into believing that the cost of publishing is to cover peer-review.

    Michael

  3. This is very right and proper. Publishers of all stripes have dwindling costs and responsibilities in the internet age and should increasingly absent themselves from the flow they increasingly impede.

    I have proposed that a richer and more transparent, independent peer review system could be developed to run alongside this open access publishing of public funded research.

    In essence, all researchers and academics would be in effect licensed by their universities to be peer reviewers in specific fields related to their academic achievements. Peer review would in fact happen after publishing. These would be reviews with the author clearly identified. They would become markers for salience for others sifting for worthwhile research. They would also be capable of being negative as well as positive, so that poor research potentially wasting public money is as readily identified as the good stuff. (Or again it may yet find friends at some later time.) There would be two forms of peer review for published papers if reviewers were qualified. Minimum reviews akin to score card marking would be applied signalling quality of research, method, salience, clarity etc. etc. These would be done for free by any qualified to produce them having read the paper. All such reviews would be freely available to all alongside the papers themselves. Much more detailed reviews could be written by anyone qualified, provided a short form review had been produced for free consumption. This review could be sold by the writer mostly for her own benefit, a small fraction being automatically retained from any income to help pay for the infrastructure.

    To the general public the original papers are free and so too short form reviews. Detailed reviews can be sold to cover their costs or as a source of income. At a tertiary level the reviews could be scored by any from any potential reviewing peers in the qualified group.

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