New rule expands public access to federally funded research

September 14, 2022

The University Library, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), and other units are developing and expanding their resources and services to better support the publishing and data management needs of the University of Michigan community.

The move is in response to continuing trends, including recent guidance from the White House that aims to make publicly sponsored research outcomes freely and immediately available.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum August 25 directing all federal agencies to update their public access policies so publicly-funded research outcomes, including publications and data, are freely and immediately available. 

The forthcoming policy changes, which will take effect no later than December 31, 2025, are a welcome development in the movement toward more open and equitable access to research and scholarly findings.

“Public access to publicly-funded research is an obvious social good," said Donna Hayward, interim university librarian and dean of libraries. She said the new directive is a further step in a positive direction that's been gaining momentum in the last decade. 

"Of course, these policy changes will require adjustments to the ways some U-M researchers manage and publish their findings," she added. "Fortunately, the library has quite a bit of expertise and infrastructure to help people prepare for and navigate the new standards and requirements."

The library offers open and public access publishing support, help with research data planning, management and sharing, and institutional repositories for sharing and preserving research outputs. The library’s copyright services include guidance and forms to help ensure authors can share their publications in accordance with funders' requirements. 

Look for updates to the library’s scholarly publishing guide as the new guidelines arrive.

To address this new policy and other similar federal changes addressing public access and research, OVPR launched its Research Data Stewardship Initiative in June to provide resources and guidance so teams from across U-M are well positioned to equitably and securely manage their research data.

As part of the initiative, OVPR partnered with faculty and staff to develop an online portal that aggregates university-wide resources to help researchers identify options for archiving and sharing data based on their disciplines and the types of data they generate.

Of particular interest is a resource page helping prepare the U-M research community for a pending policy change from the National Institutes of Health that requires researchers to plan and budget for data management needs, including submitting data management plans with all new proposals.

The initiative also aims to assess and develop university policies related to research data, while also engaging with faculty from across U-M to identify unmet data stewardship needs, including those that may arise as a result of the White House guidance.

A fall seminar series will feature U-M faculty across a range of disciplines discussing research data sharing practices and the value of data stewardship. It begins with an informational webinar on September 21.

“Data essentially forms the backbone of every research project,” said Nick Wigginton, assistant vice president for research and leader of the initiative. “By ensuring the integrity, availability and preservation of data, we can help increase the quality and impact of research across U-M.”

The August 2022 memorandum broadens 2013 guidance from OSTP, expanding the types of findings affected and ending a previously allowed one-year post-publication embargo on free access.

And while the previous directive applied only to agencies with budgets of more than $100 million, this new directive encompasses smaller agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

The new memo directs all federal agencies with research-and-development expenditures to:

  • Develop policies that would require access to publications without delay or embargoes. 
  • Update their policies on data sharing to enable immediate access to the data underlying published studies.
  • Share publication metadata, including funding information, and to require the use of persistent identifiers. 
  • Develop strategies to ensure “data, and other such research outputs and their metadata are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable.” 
  • Maximize equitable reach of public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications and further “consider measures to reduce inequities in publishing of, and access to, federally funded research and data, especially among individuals from underserved backgrounds and those who are early in their careers.”

The memo also expands the definition of "publications" to potentially include journal articles as well as peer-reviewed book chapters, editorials, and conference proceedings.  

Federal agencies must update their public access and data sharing plans by mid-2023, and implement those plans by the end of 2025. Researchers interested in preparing for the new guidance can reach out to a library subject specialist or their research administrator.

 

by Alan Piñon

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