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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Impact of the 2022 OSTP memo: A bibliometric analysis of US federally funded publications, 2017–2021

On August 25, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo (“Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” or the “Nelson Memo” after OSTP director Alondra Nelson *) regarding public access to scientific research. This updated guidance eliminated the 12-month embargo period on publications arising from U.S. federal funding that had been allowed from a previous 2013 OSTP memo (citation: Holdren, J. (2013). Increasing access to the results of federally funded scientific research (notice the obamawhitehouse.archives.gov url 😉 ).

Using the Nelson memo as a jumping off place, Eric Schares, the Engineering & Collection Analysis Librarian at Iowa State University, did some very interesting analysis on the characteristics of US federally funded research for the period 2017 – 2021. He also helpfully made interactive versions of the graphs available at https://ostp.lib.iastate.edu/. This article was published open access, so it should be freely available at https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00237.

Citation: Eric Schares; Impact of the 2022 OSTP memo: A bibliometric analysis of US federally funded publications, 2017–2021. Quantitative Science Studies 2023; 4 (1): 1–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00237

This study seeks to more deeply investigate the characteristics of U.S. federally funded research over a 5-year period from 2017–2021 to better understand the updated guidance’s impact. It uses a manually created custom filter in the Dimensions database to return only publications that arise from U.S. federal funding. Results show that an average of 265,000 articles were published each year that acknowledge US federal funding agencies, and these research outputs are further examined by publisher, journal title, institutions, and Open Access status. Interactive versions of the graphs are available at https://ostp.lib.iastate.edu/.

*Here is the archived link to the Nelson memo archived in the wayback machine because the base domain will change from whitehouse.gov to bidenwhitehouse.archives.gov at the end of the Biden administration.

US government to make all federally funded research open access on publication

This is certainly good news! The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) yesterday released guidance for federal agencies to “ensure free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research.” This builds on the 2013 Obama administration’s Memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research which directed all federal departments and agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of federally funded research, with specific focus on access to scholarly publications and digital data resulting from such research. This new policy directs agencies to “update their public access policies as soon as possible, and no later than December 31, 2025.”

Of course, from FGI’s perspective, a key piece of making federally funded research open access is the curation, preservation and ongoing access to those publications. We wonder how this will impact the Government Publishing Office (GPO) in its quest to build the “National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information.”

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) updated U.S. policy guidance to make the results of taxpayer-supported research immediately available to the American public at no cost. In a memorandum to federal departments and agencies, Dr. Alondra Nelson, the head of OSTP, delivered guidance for agencies to update their public access policies as soon as possible to make publications and research funded by taxpayers publicly accessible, without an embargo or cost. All agencies will fully implement updated policies, including ending the optional 12-month embargo, no later than December 31, 2025.

This policy will likely yield significant benefits on a number of key priorities for the American people, from environmental justice to cancer breakthroughs, and from game-changing clean energy technologies to protecting civil liberties in an automated world.