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White House announces major expansion to open access policies

September 08, 2022
By: Emily Chesser

A recent announcement from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) included major updates requiring open access to federally funded research. The new guidance will require federal agencies to ensure that all taxpayer-funded research is immediately available to the public, disallowing the previous optional 12-month embargos.

According to a memo released to federal departments and agencies, these agencies have until December 21, 2025, to implement the new open access guidelines completely. In the short term, OSTP intends to help agencies update public access and data sharing plans by mid- 2023. This extended timeline allows relevant stakeholders time to develop and implement these new open access policies effectively.

This policy update marks a big win for supporters of open access policies, who were not satisfied with the previous open access policies announced by the Obama administration in 2013. The 2013 memorandum only required open access for federal agencies that received over $100 million in extramural research. The recent updates remove the funding cap and ensure that nearly all agencies conducting federally funded research are required to comply with open access policies. According to the New York Times, these updates include an expansion of about 400 or more organizations.

According to a White House press release, the Biden administration consulted with various stakeholders throughout the research publication ecosystem. Some stakeholders include science and academic publishers, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, libraries and universities, scholarly societies, and the public. Despite their involvement, some publishers remain skeptical about the new open access policies while others like Springer Nature have expressed their support for open access policies. Still, they have noted that funding agencies may need to increase financial support for publication to ensure public access. Carrie Webster, the Vice President for Open Access at Springer Nature, stated that guidance could feature a “gold” open access. This form of open access would require paying a processing fee paid by a researcher, university, or funding agency before an article would be released publicly.

Learn more about the open access policy updates in the White House press release here.

white house, ostp, research