Obama administration backs public access to federally funded research

March 11, 2013

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has directed federal agencies that fund research to develop plans to make freely available the published results of that research within one year of publication.

Jean Song, research and informatics coordinator at the Taubman Health Sciences Library and chair of the U-M Library’s open access committee, thinks this development will bolster the burgeoning campus interest in open access, and ultimately create more publishing options for faculty and researchers looking to make their findings openly available.

The OSTP directive is good news for advocates of open access in general, many of whom participated in the conversation by responding to OSTP requests for public comment, or were among the more than 65,000 people who signed the White House “We the People” petition calling for free access to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.

University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Paul N. Courant is among those who did both, and more. Courant submitted policy recommendations on behalf of the U-M Library in 2010 and 2011, writing, “[I]t seems unthinkable that work paid for with taxpayer monies is not already freely available to our citizens for the betterment of industry, education, business and the quality of life generally.” He is among the signatories of the “We the People” petition, and also served on the Association of American University Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, whose work contributed to the OSTP directive.

About the directive, Courant says, “It’s a significant step toward a more open ecosystem for the dissemination of knowledge. And it matters because broad public access to research findings helps fulfill the promise of great institutions like Michigan to make the world better. It also directly aids research and scholarship by enabling the free exchange of research results.”

The new policy comes almost exactly one year after the demise of the Research Works Act, proposed legislation that would have prohibited open access mandates for federally funded research.

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Last modified: 03/11/2013