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OSTP policy

Feb. 22, 2013 – In an effort to encourage innovation, accelerate scientific breakthroughs, and stimulate economic growth, the Obama administration has mandated public access to federally funded data. A memo from the Office of Science and Technology Policy to every federal agency with over $100M in annual research and development spending instructs those agencies to prepare policies aimed at increasing access to and discovery of scientific research products funded by the federal government. However, while the OSTP's memo mandates broad philosophies of public access, it leaves the creation and implementation of specific policies up to the agencies themselves, and also recognizes that publishers perform an important role (such as the organization of peer review processes that lead to high-quality research) within the scholarly community.

According to the directive, agencies must

  • include provisions for both published articles and datasets,
  • address improving public access to these publications and datasets,
  • develop a plan for ensuring long-term access to these research products,
  • and create some plan for leveraging the results of federally-funded research already published in existing archives.

The OSTP expects that research papers be made freely available within 12 months of publication, though agencies will be allowed to tailor these embargo periods and stakeholders may be allowed to lengthen the embargo on a case-by-case basis.

For digital data, defined as "the digital recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings including data sets used to support scholarly publications," the OSTP's concerns center upon preserving the privacy and confidentiality of the data and ensuring the development of data management plans. To do this, they propose that agencies allow inclusion of the cost of data management as part of the funding proposal.

The OSTP directive follows quickly on the heels of FASTR, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act , which was introduced to Congress a few days prior. For a very interesting comparison of these two efforts, see this Google+ post by Peter Suber of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP).