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White House announces policy of open access to federally funded research

Thanks in part to a We the People petition signed by 65,000 people(!), President Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, issued a directive on Friday to all research funding agencies to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months of publication. It also requires that scientists receiving taxpayer dollars to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data. This is huge! By my rough count, that means that approximately 20 US agencies will now make the science they fund available to the public. The only thing better would be for President Obama to support FREE access to ALL federal govt publications by assuring that FDsys remains freely available (one of the recommendations of the recent NAPA report was the tremendously backward and short-sighted suggestion that GPO charge for access to their FDsys database!)

See the policy memorandum, Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research

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. That’s why, in a policy memorandum released today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.

To see the new policy memorandum, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf

To see Dr. Holdren’s response to the We the People petition, please visit: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/increasing-public-access-results-scientific-research

Michael Stebbins is Assistant Director for Biotechnology at OSTP

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) “applauds White House for landmark directive opening up access to scientific research”. SPARC said — and we agree — that opening up access to scientific research ensures that taxpayer-funded research is available to the public. Congress should follow the White House’s lead and immediately announce that ITS taxpayer-funded public domain information — i.e.., the Federal Digital System or FDsys — will remain freely available, preserved AND preservable for the long-term.

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